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Behind the Xhibition x adidas Terrex Tracefinder design process.


The following interview with Robert Rosenthal, who is one of the owners of Xhibition, delves into the Xhibition x adidas Terrex Tracefinder Boot design, as well as what it is like collaborating with adidas. The interview was conducted by Jay, who works on the technology side of

Jay: What was the inspiration behind the design of the Xhibition x Adidas Terrex Tracefinder?

Robert: We (Xhibition and adidas) wanted to design a boot to address the harshness of Cleveland and Midwest winters. Utilizing the performance features of the Tracefinder, which is a great product, we also wanted to put it in a fashion space. For years this boot has been very utilitarian. The task for us at Xhibition was to figure how to maintain the essence of the boot for harsh environs, and at the same time give it a fashion bent. They (adidas) really wanted us to give our spin on how we could reinvent this boot for a fashion consumer.


Jay:So Terrex expresses more of the performance and outdoors arm of adidas and they wanted to blend the ruggedness of the boot with lifestyle fashion?

Robert: Correct.


Jay: Is this the first time they put boost in a boot?

Robert: I dont think so. But I think its the first time that they viewed it as something different from its original intended use outdoors. They wanted to have the consumer experience it in the fashion space. And part of the process that we went through was looking at a lot of luxury boots that inspired us. We really tried to incorporate some of those design elements in the boot, marrying them with high performance. Importantly, we wanted to relate it to sneakerheads, which is why we designed it to be very wearable.

Robert: Another way of putting it is that we wanted to interpret what we were seeing in luxury and bring it down to the rugged space. And it was really important to relate to sneaker heads. And that’s why it had to be very wearable. It’s light, has boost technology, and the strap serves the boot in terms of fashion and function. We felt the whole design had to relate to that kid who’s buying sneakers as well. So when you put it on, the boot feels more like you are wearing a big sneaker and not a boot.


Jay: And what was the idea behind the strap?

Robert: The strap is purely a fashion element that repeats itself in the luxury space, and we wanted to bring it into this space as well. So it’s original intent was to be a fashion component. But when you wear the boot, it certainly gives you the feeling that it’s not so bulky. So it also serves as function; it doesn’t leave people feeling like they are wearing a big, clunky hiking boot.

Jay: Soit feels like youre strapped in?

Robert:You feel like you are in a sneaker. But when you wear a boot, sometimes you feel like your foot wiggles around and is in all parts of the boot. The Xhibition x adidas Terrex boot really feels like you’re wearing sneakers.


Jay: That’s awesome. So what different colorations did you consider when you were going through the design process? Did you originally think of wool and a grey scale?

Robert: When working with adidas’ design team, wool was brought in. I think on the second go around. We wanted to make the booth rich. We wanted to make our boot feel different than a typical boot. Honestly, the first go round with the wool component didn’t work at all. It took us a long time to source the right (wool) fabric.


Jay: Where was it sourced? Was it anything special?

Robert: The adidas design team sourced it. So I do not know exactly where is came from. And it was the second time around that they found something that made sense. Originally, the boot was wool with rubber on the upper. But we felt that it needed a more natural look to give it a luxury feel, and substituted leather. The rubber just felt way too utilitarian.


Jay: Were there other colors? Did you experiment with black?

Robert: We looked at other colors. We actually looked at like 30 colors. And our original concepts was to go very, very sneakerhead; bright and loud. And as we went through the process, we thought that it would have to be geared toward a very, very specific customer. However, upon taking a more thorough review of our approach, we felt that it made more sense to put it in a color you can wear it every day.

Jay: Do you think that there theres some movement in the convergence of luxury and function?

Robert: I think so, based on what some players in the outdoor space are doing at the moment. But we really wanted to move it out of that space and felt it was much more important to create a luxury item at an attainable price. That was the idea. Create fashion luxury at a great price.

Jay:Where is the boot going to be sold?

Robert: We will be selling it at Xhibition in Cleveland, and it will be sold throughout all adidas Consortium doors throughout the world, as well.“

Jay: Is there anything you would like to say about working with adidas? How was the process?

Robert: adidas was a wonderful partner. We were particular about what we wanted to create and their design teams were very patient with us. We spent hours with them deciding on fabric, saying how the strap would look, and the like The strap in particular took a long time as we wanted it to have adidas trademark three strikes without screaming their trefoil. They loved the fact that we were able to do some authentic adidas branding while staying true to our goal.

Jay:In working with adidas is there anything that surprised you about the process?

Robert: Time. Things just really, really take time to develop. You just get an appreciation for how the process of building a product works and the stuff just doesn’t happen overnight. In working with a collaborator, we both had a vision of what we wanted to create. It took some time for both design teams to get aligned.

Jay: Im sure that there was probably this piece of here’s what we’d like to do, and then there was here are some of the limitations we have to work around.

Robert: Yes. But they really wanted this to come from us, and they were there to facilitate the blocking and tackling of the whole design process. Like getting samples made, and going back and forth on how it should fit and look. The boot went through three sampling processes to get everything right..

Jay: So will you get another chance to work on another shoe?

Robert: I do not know, to be honest? We are just really focused on this collaboration right now and thank adidas for the opportunity