Sneakers
From the ground up

The NMD, adidas Originals’ new kid on the block, has quickly gained a very solid footing in the sneaker world.

Unveiled in December, the new silhouette’s general releases have been going like hotcakes at retail, causing YEEZY-like lineups, even reselling above their ticket price, all this without any real celebrity co-signs, and only a single collaborative issue alongside Nice Kicks.

The shoe’s design contains references to archival adidas models like the Micro Pacer, Rising Star and Boston Super, but it’s unlikely this really matters to sneakerheads today, as the NMD can easily stand on its own in the tech footwear market. In short, it makes more sense that kids would be buying the NMD because its packed with modern tech, it’s comfortable, and the consensus is: it’s the sneaker of the moment.

Although in some ways surprising, the shoe’s success isn’t entirely unprecedented, as any Boost-imbued execution will easily garner attention, yet adidas has been able to keep up demand for the NMD, while releasing a staggering number of colorways. As a testament to the silhouette’s global staying power, we turned to some of our friends around the world to find out more.

Below, we hear from UK big boys size?, Moscow’s Brandshop, Berlin sneaker outpost Overkill, Canadian favorite Livestock, and Boston-based retailer Concepts on why the NMD has been steady killing it.

First, how has the reception of the NMD been in your shop?

Julian Kalitta, Overkill: At the moment, the NMD boom is boundless. More and more people are into the NMD and we can’t accommodate demand, as every release is making headlines in the sneaker world.

Deon Point, Concepts: It’s become one of those models that makes my life hell. My phone doesn’t stop. (laughs)

Brendan Denault, Livestock: So far, every colorway of the NMD has been an instant sell-out in all of our doors, causing overnight lineups and so much demand that we now have to raffle off releases to control the drops.

James Trivunovic, size?: The very first release a few weeks before Christmas 2015 was madness. In London, we had queues of over 150 for the Yellow Gold version back in February, and 20-30 people lining up in [less-populated cities like] Leeds, Nottingham and Middlesborough. On the online side, we’ve been selling out in minutes, more specifically for the release of the Sport White and Black pack last month – we had over 30,000 people waiting on our website ready to purchase when it dropped!

Yana Shebaeva, Brandshop: We’ve experienced long lines outside Brandshop in Moscow. We really admire the fact that the Russian audience is so perceptive and appreciative, and that sneaker culture is now so topical in our country.

What is allowing the NMD to resonate so well with sneakerheads?

Overkill: The main fact is that the NMD is super comfortable, thanks to a perfect mix of materials and high-quality workmanship. The new tech system is the icing on the cake and it’s very trend-setting.

Concepts: I think it’s a mixture of the energy that is driving the brand, and the consumer being anxious to see a new product that makes sense. Typically this is a retro-driven business. It’s rare to see new models garner this much attention.

Livestock: This style of “lightweight casual” sneakers is smartly embracing performance technology, allowing the NMD to gain more popularity daily as the new “it” style. It just serves as a great new and effective canvas for adidas to play with.

size?: Ultimately, the shoe has been such a revelation and so well received because it’s both completely fresh and modern-looking, while at the same time capturing the aesthetic of modern-day fashion. It fits perfectly with today’s typical streetwear look.

Brandshop: The NMD is a nicely balanced sneaker; between smart design and a comfortable fit. These sneakers are exactly what is desired by the masses at the moment. Applause!

Is the NMD’s popularity now hinging on past successes with the Ultra Boost?

Overkill: Definitely, the pioneer work of the Ultra Boost is one of the main reasons for the NMD’s success right now. The silhouette isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but everybody knows about the advantages of the Boost sole.

Concepts: I think that definitely helped. The Boost technology is as comfortable as it is attractive, so naturally it’s working across the board.

Livestock: We feel that the NMD doesn’t necessarily directly compete with the Ultra Boost, but instead complements it as part of the Boost lineup. The NMD can be seen as a casual option, while the Ultra Boost is more for sport and performance.

size?: I think the NMD is a lot more contemporary than the Ultra Boost, first and foremost because it doesn’t look like a performance shoe. The Ultra Boost blew up last year mainly because of how amazingly comfortable the shoe is, and the fact that Kanye West wore the Triple White on stage a few times.

Mix in the fact that there wasn’t much out there in the market volume-wise, and once again there’s an [imbalanced] supply and demand situation occurring. The consumer is seeing the Ultra Boost technology in the sole on a more interesting, less sports-specific upper, so people are buying into that look.

Ultra Boost planted the seed for sure, however, I don’t think the past success of the style will have much bearing on how NMD succeeds.

Brandshop: The Ultra Boost is undoubtedly equipped with outstanding technology, but I think the NMD is so popular for more than just the Boost tech. The model itself ticks a lot of boxes, and adidas designers have shown their comprehension of the people’s needs.

The shoe was released in a wide range of colorways shortly after it was introduced, how will this fare for the future of the NMD? Will people become tired of the silhouette?

Overkill: Not yet! I think it’s only the beginning of a successful future. I’m sure adidas has more aces up their sleeves. There will be new NMD silhouettes, new material mixes etc. Of course, adidas has to do their homework concerning the marketing and distribution of the NMD, but if they do, the NMD will have a golden future.

Concepts: I think adidas is doing a great job of protecting the model. NMDs are not easy to get your hands on by any means. I don’t see any signs of these slowing up.

Livestock: We think the design is minimal enough to be timeless, and was created as a canvas for endless revisions. When the Ultra Boost first came out, we feel people were starved for renditions, maybe adidas felt this was an opportunity to really start off a strong new silhouette with a bang and give the consumer a wide variety of color schemes and builds right off the bat.

size?: The brand released the first few styles at a higher level of distribution (what adidas call “top” tier distribution) between December and February, which allowed them to see just how huge the NMD franchise could and would be. Afterwards, adidas capitalized on this by releasing bigger packs for men and women. The positive part for adidas is that they kept the allocations of all styles relatively small, creating a huge demand. NMDs have literally sold out before they even got a chance to look pretty on the shop floor!

The brand has done a pretty good job in tiering the styles for FW16 in terms of Primeknit premium versions of the OG runner at the very top levels, down to new silhouettes and versions of the franchise coming in August (XR1 version). The style will be more visible in the market for sure in FW16, and we believe there are still a lot of consumers out there who have not had a chance to see the shoe in the flesh that will love it.

Brandshop: Fashion comes and goes, but the NMD silhouette is more about futurism. I really suppose this silhouette is going to become one of adidas’ classics – if it’s not a classic already.

Finally, do you think the tech footwear bubble is about to burst?

Overkill: I don’t think so. More and more people are looking for new technology in footwear, that’s why the brand has to deliver. It’s not at the peak yet in my opinion.

Concepts: It would seem so. We love it as it’s a refreshing change of pace for footwear retail. Even more exciting is these models have potential to become future classics.

Livestock: We feel the tech footwear bubble is just getting started, finding the perfect balance between technology and fashion will always be something to strive for and constantly improve as research and development gets even more advanced.

size?: We are seeing modern, technical styles selling well, but on the other hand, the classic, anti-tech options are also selling well. For example, the Reebok Club C and adidas Court Vantage have been superb for us this season. With both adidas and the other big guns still designing and bringing out new tech shoes, we can’t see it going away too soon.

Brandshop: I don’t really think so. More so the opposite: I believe it will grow bigger because releases like the NMD only inflate that bubble.

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