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How Steph Curry Had One Of His Best Seasons Yet In The "Curry Flow 8"

Chopping it up with Under Armour’s Chief Innovation Officer Clay Dean

CURRY MOBILE
Under Armour

As you all know, Steph Curry is coming off one of the best statistical seasons of his storied career, doing it all in the Curry Flow 8. Debuting in December, the shoe is the first to be released under the Curry Brand powered by Under Armour, and we saw Steph have some of the brightest moments of his career in this silhouette, with dazzling drives to the basket (according to statistics firm Second Spectrum, Steph got to the basket more this year than during his unanimous MVP campaign in 2015-2016), an abundance of mid-range jumpers, and of course, tons of almost uncanny three-pointers. 

Curry 8 Flow SC 1
Getty Images / Getty Images

Any athlete knows just how important it is to have a comfortable, supportive shoe while playing. While the style element is important, comfort and mobility remain the key components to success. If the shoes you are wearing are uncomfortable, that could, in turn, hinder your performance while also being a bit painful. Curry and Under Armour have always prided themselves on creating performance sneakers that are both cutting edge and suitable for the court, gym, or any high-level activity. This year, they decided to take the Curry shoe brand to another level in their most technology-driven and innovative drop. ONE37pm spoke with Under Armour’s Chief Innovation Officer Clay Dean about the Curry Flow 8s and what we can expect from future releases.

ONE37pm: This Season Steph wore the Curry Flow 8, which was actually the first signature shoe under the Curry brand label. What was the process in terms of creating the actual sneaker?

Dean: Three years ago, Stephen came to myself and the UA Innovation team with one request: to give him one second back on the court. Like Stephen, we set out to disrupt the game – and ended up creating a basketball shoe that does just that. The development of UA Flow, and design of the Curry Flow 8, was a partnership between Dow and the Under Armour team including Innovation, Product Design, Biomechanics, Athlete and Consumer Insights groups, and many others. The Curry Flow 8 disrupts the design of a traditional basketball shoe by completely eliminating the rubber outsole, bringing unparalleled traction, lightweight cushioning and grippy on-court feel.  UA optimized the properties of this unique foam compound to create—according to feedback and extensive testing from our athletes—our best performing basketball shoe to date. 

UA Flow and the Curry Flow 8 went through 13 rounds of wear-testing and 10  rounds of biomechanical testing. We conducted wear-testing with over 100 athletes for a cumulative total of approximately 1,532 hours on-court. And Stephen was engaged throughout the entire 15-month process. Ultimately, this was our most intense footwear development story with Stephen that we’ve ever done at Under Armour. We believe this experience has really become the benchmark of how we want to work with athletes in the future.

Curry 8 Class y Flow
Curry Flow 8 / Under Armour

ONE37pm: What made this particular shoe different from the others that we have seen from Curry in the past? 

Dean: The Curry 8 Flow was our first shoe to introduce Under Armour’s newest cushioning platform, UA Flow. With UA Flow, UA has dialed in on energy return, shock absorption and traction to enhance the court feel, cushioning and speed of movement without sacrificing durability. This results in Under Armour Basketball’s highest performance ground-contact cushioning technology to-date. Aside from UA Flow cushioning, the Curry Flow 8 upper has a finely tuned two-layer fit system that acts like a set of seat belts locking you onto the UA Flow midsole.

A set of five webbing loops lock the foot into the heel pocket during hard stops, while a non-stretch fingered laminate layer secures the foot in hard lateral cuts. Lastly, an engineered knit upper provides breathability and comfort, helping players stay cool and focused during workouts or in game. So much of sport is rooted in psychology and how you feel, and that is a big part of what UA Flow is offering here – helping Stephen and athletes like him get in the right mindset with gear they trust will perform to their expectations.

ONE37pm: Were there any specific challenges/obstacles that you all encountered with this sneaker?

Dean: When we first started exploring this new foam concept that was lightweight with high energy return, it was our intention to create a high-performance running shoe. We were testing initially at our Portland headquarters and the team took it into the gym so we could have a longer straightaway to run on. That was the fateful moment when we realized the amazing traction on the hardwood and that this could be a groundbreaking basketball shoe. From there, and after showing Stephen early prototypes, he said he had to have it for the Curry 8 – months before we thought we could deliver.

We knew we were onto something big, but also knew there was a long road ahead going from the lab all the way to production. And that is the beauty of collaborating with an athlete like Stephen – he makes us better too – and we were forced to move faster and build new muscles that we didn’t have before in order to bring this product to market in 2020 ahead of the NBA season start.

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Curry Flow 8 / Under Armour

ONE37pm: You guys recently released data showing the comparisons between Steph’s 2020-2021 campaign, and his unanimous 2015-2016 campaign. Were there any shoe similarities between those two seasons that you are aware of?

Dean: During the 2015-2016 season, Stephen wore the Curry 2 with UA Charged foam cushioning. While that version of the Curry was great and was what Stephen needed at the time, the Curry 8 Flow is better and Stephen is better. While wearing the Curry Flow 8, he’s broken three scoring records and is getting more shots off and driven to the basket more than he did during his MVP season.

ONE37pm: Obviously Steph is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, and that was reflected in his statistics this season. How important were the Flow 8s in terms of comfort, mobility, etc? Steph got to the basketball more this year than he did in 2015/2016!

Dean: We’ve looked at how much ground Stephen is covering on court during regular season play, averaging more than 2.4 miles per game. Stephen needed a shoe that was going to be comfortable going up and down the court in yet give him the traction and mobility to react quickly. It’s also one of the lightest basketball sneakers we’ve ever done. A lighter shoe allows a player to have more energy and be fresher throughout the game, which can be a huge performance advantage. It is also important to note that the team reverse engineered from flexibility to stability instead of stability to flexibility. We started with the unique foam and then added structure and stability to it to create a holistic system around the foot of the basketball player. This is a different approach to how shoes are traditionally built, with stiff tooling first and then whittled down to be more lightweight throughout the design process. It helped us create better cushioning, a better internal fit structure and less weight, which helps keep Stephen fresh for the next practice, the next game, and the next season.

ONE37pm: What can we expect in the future in terms of the next UA/Curry release? 

Dean: There are a lot of exciting things coming out of Curry Brand this summer and fall. We are excited about the opportunity to continue with the UA Flow technology, while bringing even more refinement and purposeful design to support Stephen’s game in future iterations. We’re also expanding into other areas outside of basketball including golf and running. Curry Brand and Under Armour will continue to work to change the game for good – with great products and a strong purpose guiding everything we do.

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