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Business of HYPE: adidas MakerLab

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. With season 6 under wraps, we bring to you a special bonus episode as we prep for the next season. On this week’s episode, jeffstaple sat down with three innovative footwear designers around the globe—Helen KirkumShun Hirose of RECOUTURE and Alex Nash and is later joined by adidas’ MakerLab Creative Director, Jose Cabaco, Senior Director of Digital Strategy, Tareq Nazlawy and adidas Statement Creative Director, Yohan Ham.

Part of the brand’s new initiative called MakerLab, the three designers were invited to reimagine the iconic Campus 80s. Over the course of months, they were allowed to bring their design into fruition by working out of the adidas HQ in Herzogenaurach, Germany and later at the brand’s factory in Vietnam, where they oversaw all production and packaging. 

The final product was launched on a StockX IPO with only 333 limited-edition pairs available for purchase. What adidas calls bridging “the conversation between creator and buyer, removing bots, campouts, raffles, or plugs, and empowering the buyer to set the retail price,” the shoes were up on site as a blind auction allowing people to determine the rate of them.


The three designers were brought together by Jose Cabaco and Yohan Ham of adidas. London based footwear designer and artist, Helen Kirkum, is known for her signature deconstructed silhouettes, while footwear veteran Alex Nash has been pioneering customization since 2003. Japanese craftsmen, Shun Hirose, is known for his label RECOUTURE, where he’s been known to make sneaker-boot hybrids.

Later on Jose, Yohan and Tareq discuss the formation of this one-of-a-kind design process and their reasons to “decentralize” the shoe market through StockX. Near the end of the interview, jeff phones in with the three to reflect on the 72-hour auction two weeks later.

"There was not one shoe taking off and leaving the other two behind. The balance and desire for the shoes and the story having equally captured the interest was an amazing thing to see. You’re not selling one designer over the over, but you’re telling a story of three people over amount of time to embark on this journey together. When people buy what they think it’s worth it removes exploitation.”

This episode features references to the following:

0:39 – What is adidas MakerLab
1:38 – StockX IPO
4:36 – adidas HQ
6:31 – Helen Kirkum
6:54 – Alex Nash
7:18 – Shun Hirose of RECOUTURE
9:17 – How did each designer get called to participate?
9:28 – Helen’s backstory
10:24 – Alex’s backstory
16:00 – Shun’s backstory
24:39 – Visiting the adidas factory in Vietnam
26:54 – Restrictions on designing the adidas Campus 80
33:15 – Jose Cabaco, adidas MakerLab Creative Director
34:18 – Tareq Nazlawy, adidas Senior Director of Digital Strategy
34:27 – Yohan Ham, adidas Creative Director of Statement
36:53 – Why does adidas MakerLab exist?
39:19 – How was each designer picked?
42:02 – Decentralizing on StockX IPO
51:29 – MakerLab documentary
1:01:55 – StockX Auction
1:02:50 – Q&A
1:27:49 – Phonecall with Jose, Tareq and Yohan 12 days after the auction