Asked to explain the design process behind the new Speedcross 5 shoe, Salomon’s Global Footwear Design & Innovation Sport Science Director Philippe Besnard says he and his team went back to the “source code”. When Philippe first started saying “source code”, people around the Salomon Annecy Design Center (ADC) looked at him somewhat curiously.
Pressed to elaborate recently, Besnard leapt out of his chair, ran to a nearby white board and began scribbling. (He’s a passionate guy, so he does that fairly often.)
“The source code is the fundamental origin of the shoe; the essence,” he explains. “Its definition is unique. The shoe can evolve from there, but the essence will never change. With Speedcross, you know it’s ready for outdoor unpredictability just by looking at its athletic silhouette and aggressive lugs. You can see that it will be agile and bite the ground because of the lugs. It’s like a motocross tire, with no compromise. And you can’t take the lugs from the Speedcross because that ability to bite the ground is part of the source code.”
While Besnard believes the source code of any product—whether it’s a shoe or a mobile device—doesn’t change, he firmly believes that the technology to make the product better can and must evolve. “Technology just allows us to push the design further,” he says. “That is the execution.”
Today, Salomon sells more than 1 million pairs of Speedcross shoes annually. But, like any longtime product success story, the shoe has had to evolve in order to maintain its popularity. In fact, as Salomon footwear designers worked to create the fifth generation of Speedcross, there was risk in continuing with the status quo. The challenge for Besnard and his team of designers was to magnify the shoe in a new and modern way.
“We needed the Speedcross to be more Speedcross,” he says bluntly. “It’s an icon. We know that. So we needed the simplest execution of that, but we needed it to be more expressive.”
As a result, Speedcross 5 was built to evoke more emotion. The new design might be subtle to the end-user but the goal was to display greater power, improved grip and sweeping curves. “It has more attitude than the previous design,” Besnard says. “I can’t tell you how we did that exactly because you don’t give away the recipe. But it has a higher profile, more lugs, improved comfort and fit around the foot and the heel is higher.”