In 2013, adidas revealed its BOOST sole technology for the first time at a media event in New York. Two years later, the Ultraboost was born and what started as an innovation in performance quickly became an unprecedented revolution in style and comfort. No one could have foreseen the countless ways it would influence fashion, sneakers, and running.

Four years on and the next stage of evolution is almost complete. Rebuilt and re-engineered from the ground up, the Ultraboost 19 is lighter, faster, and even more comfortable than its predecessor.

In the second chapter of an exclusive two-part series, Highsnobiety and adidas explore how the original Ultraboost was deconstructed and reconstructed to create the new Ultraboost 19. Enlisting the help of thousands of runners worldwide and taking research and development from the lab to the streets, this is how adidas built a running shoe for an entirely new world.

Scroll through the interactive Ultraboost 19 deconstructed gallery. Click the images to discover how the shoe was made.

As a starting point, adidas looked at the original Ultraboost as a whole before breaking it down into its 17 individual elements to question what was working, what was not, and what could be improved.

By deconstructing the shoe, the design team could look at the individual technologies and think about how they could be improved and updated to work better together. Ben Herath, vice president of design for adidas Running, explained that for the original, “Each technology featured in Ultraboost was built to complement each other providing energized adaptability through a customized fit, look and feel. While we’ve taken innovation to the next level, the sleek silhouette of Ultraboost is built to look as good as it performs.”
adidas quickly discovered that running is changing faster than ever, “Running is not just about the competition anymore, it is becoming a social and cultural activity which unites and motivates people. Friends or clubs use running as a way to explore cities all over the world and new races are being created everywhere attracting new runners to the sport,” says Matthias Amm, director of product at adidas Running. As a result, adidas decided to rebuild the Ultraboost from the ground up using its 17 pieces of original tech as a foundation.
The original Ultraboost carries a monumental legacy, “The Best Running Shoe Ever,” as it was coined, was announced on January 22, 2015, and launched February 11. While the BOOST sole had been used before on the Energy and Pure BOOST models, the Ultraboost had a sharper, fashion-forward look that led to broader appeal. Flipping the footwear world on its head, it forced the industry to reevaluate its criteria for a “good” sneaker.
Despite becoming a discerning symbol of style, the Ultraboost was designed first and foremost as a running shoe. In order to create the Ultraboost 19, adidas worked with thousands of runners from all over the world to reevaluate the original shoe in its entirety as well as its 17 components and ask, “what do today’s runners need?”

Next, adidas entered the “dream phase,” a design ideation period that thinks beyond the limitations of budget and technical feasibility. In a world where anything is possible, how do you deliver unparalleled comfort, fit, performance, and appearance?

Primeknit was pivotal to the success of the first Ultraboost, the original black and purple colorway combined the BOOST midsole with a Primeknit upper that made the silhouette both track-ready and fashion-forward. Primeknit offered support and stretch in respective areas for improved comfort and reduced risk of injuries while also allowing adidas and its collaborators to innovative when it came to colorways and designs. adidas considered how, in a dream case scenario, this crucial element of the shoe could be improved upon for today’s image-conscious and performance oriented runners.
In this sketch, the design team considered the wearer stepping into the shoe for the first time, likely hoping to improve upon the snug hugging sensation Primeknit is known for and the soft cushioning felt underfoot.
When uninhibited, there are endless wild ways one could hope to improve upon a shoe’s ability to perform. How lightweight can it be made? How much spring and propulsion can be added? How can it be optimized to perform on all surfaces and under any conditions? adidas looked closely at the heel frame, for example, and explored ways to simplify and refine it.
If there’s one thing the original Ultraboost will be remembered for it’s superior comfort and fit, Highsnobiety’s sneaker editor Chris Danforth states, “BOOST was nothing short of a revolution in comfort.” How could what many consider to be the most wearable sneaker ever created be made even more comfortable? adidas looked at the silhouette from every angle to find an answer.

Having boiled the Ultraboost down to its 17 individual components, adidas took an 80/20 approach and focused on 4 irrefutably essential pieces that they could upgrade and optimize.

adidas’ new lightweight Torsion Spring supports the foot as it lands and literally gives runners a spring in their step. Following impact and compression, the Torsion Spring snaps back to its standard form, pushing back against the running surface and propelling runners forward. Together with the Stretchweb sole, the Torsion Spring also offers improved traction in all conditions.
Alongside the BOOST sole, Primeknit was a defining feature of the original Ultraboost design. Primeknit 360 is an update on the original technology that takes the shoe’s performance potential to the next level. Lighter and more comfortable than ever before, Primeknit 360 feels like a second skin.
The new 3D Heel Frame is a lighter, stripped-back construction that cradles the heel and wraps the Achilles tendon making it both adaptive and supportive.
Created during adidas’ Speedfactory project, the all-new Optimized BOOST midsole contains an additional 20 percent more BOOST material compared to the first generation Ultraboost and provides even greater energy return as a result.

With the deconstruction phase complete and the fundamentals improved upon, it was time to consolidate and rebuild. But, unlike a jigsaw puzzle, there was more than one solution.

Continuing to include runners in the reconstruction process remained vital to the Ultraboost 19 being a shoe by runners, for runners. adidas Running’s director of product, Matthias Amm, explains, “When we started the creation process we gathered input from all types of runners, from athletes to running club members. They gave us input from an emotional side to help us understand what the adidas Ultraboost means to them and also what running means to them. On the performance side, they told us what they loved about the old Ultraboost, when and how they use the shoe for running and their lifestyles. Once we had prototypes we included these athletes and runners in wear testing and implemented their feedback in the next rounds.”
adidas had to keep in mind that at the core of this new design were the shoe’s four key elements: the Torsion Spring, 3D Heel Frame, Primeknit 360, and Optimized BOOST. Remaining focused on these components was integral to staying on track and not losing sight of the goal.
With each prototype came feedback, adjustments, and refinement. The perfect running shoe may not exist but adidas worked day and night in order to get as close as possible by focusing on the smallest of details.
As prototypes came in and adidas got closer to the final product, it was important to refer back to the initial ideas conceived during the “dream phase.” The team had to ask themselves if they’d stayed true to their ambitious early-stage plans.


In creating the Ultraboost 19, adidas totally reimagined its most iconic running shoe to date and collaborated with thousands of runners around the world in the process. “We tore up the rule book. We challenged the status quo of what a running shoe should be and how it should be created,” explains Sam Handy, vice president of design at adidas Running. “We enlisted runners from all over our network to be a part of this process, with one goal in mind – to create the most responsive, performance-driven version of the adidas Ultraboost possible.”

adidas will always want to push the Ultraboost’s boundaries. Whether it’s getting faster, more durable, or more agile, there’s always room for improvement. But, for now, the design team are 100 percent confident in the new shoe and what it can do. “We will continue to learn, challenge ourselves, and push our innovations forward, however, the best running shoe ever created has been made even better,” says Matthias Amm, director of product at adidas Running. “We have amplified the experience of cushioning and responsiveness to a whole new level. In a world of constant innovation, we have pushed the boundaries of performance and footwear design by applying our most premium innovations and processes.”

Amm explains that this is a shoe adidas could not have made in 2015. In one sense, this is because new technology has developed allowing the brand to do far more with its performance footwear from a technical perspective. But, in another, it’s because running as an activity in 2018 is different to running in 2015. While it still involves putting one foot in front of the other, it’s younger, less rigid, and it’s a sociable activity rather than a solitary one.

While the original Ultraboost was primed for its time and in many ways futureproof, the Ultraboost 19 is a product of 2018 and beyond. And this isn’t just because of how people will run in the shoe, it’s about how people will make it their own. Amm admits that one of the lessons the design team has learned is that once a sneaker is released, those wearing it become its designer, and this is just a part of contemporary sneaker culture. With the original Ultraboost, creative sneakerheads cut away the cage and added color to the white sole, adidas took these ideas on board and added them as features to future designs: “Don’t be offended if consumers are hacking your products. Instead, engage with them and collaborate to create an even better product.”

Runners and sneakerheads will no doubt get creative with the Ultraboost 19 too and this is something adidas will embrace, “the best innovation is nothing without cultural relevance,” says Amm. In a way, this highly ambitious collaboration project with runners from around the world continues even after adidas releases the shoe. And, as a result, the Ultraboost 19 is truly a shoe for runners, by runners.

The adidas Ultraboost 19 will initially launch in a limited-release “Laser Red” colorway, with further limited-edition drops to follow. Check out for more information and keep up to date with all the latest releases on Instagram.

Words by Aaron Howes
Branded Content Editor