Judges Comments on Final 5

What a month! 50,000 votes, 1000 designs, 5 finalists and 1 winner… July was crazy. And yesterday was even crazier. We spent time with 3 experts in the industry to filter through the final 5 concepts with the aim to identify one progressive, insight driven and commercially relevant design.

This process was anything but easy, a planned 3hrs turned into 10hrs of heated discussions, conclusions, changes of mind and painful elimination. Safe to say we were exhausted by the end! But just in time, 1hr before the announcement deadline, we all felt we landed on a conclusion we were very delighted with. Congrats to @kaitochoy for an absolutely stunning concept! We cannot wait to get started on bringing this one to market.

In this blog, we want to open all access to the discussions and comments on why the panel felt @kaitochoys concept will be a huge success in the market. So without further ado, here are some of the key quotes from the conversations.

Check out this previous blog for more info about our esteemed panel of judges.

Welcome to the journey gents, let's start with your feedback on the competition as a whole, what has particularly stood out in this journey of open source design?


“The standard of rendering and photo realism by some of the ideas submitted has been mindblowing. It inspires designers already in the industry like myself to want to improve and I believe we can all learn from one another.

I’ve really enjoyed seeing the communication tools the designers have used to visualize – whether that’s illustrator, photoshop, 3D software and the old school way of pen and paper.”

“...I love how every designer seems to raise the bar with every new concept posted, it

seems to spark ideas, which is what LACELESS is all about for me, sharing of ideas,

sharing of techniques used to communicate ideas and inspiring one another.”


“...unbelievable work from the designers. Truly incredible to see how the next generation is transforming the way we create product using new tools to communicate concepts to cross functional teams. This makes everybody's job significantly easier and ultimately the product result significantly better.”

“... Typically in the past there has been a closed “wait until finished” mentality, the laceless competition has shown the value of authentically sharing the unfinished process in a collaborative way to refine concepts and arrive sharper, and more relevant. This is a direction we see more and more, especially with younger designers coming through so its brilliantly relevant”


“the amount of concepts around the sole unit has blown me away, and the quality of thought behind each idea has been amazing even the ones that didn’t compete in the top 40. I design and develop for fashion brands all across the world and I can tell you that the standard of rendering and communication is up there with the very best in the industry.”

“The progression in the design through the stages has kept the competition really engaging and i always looked forward to what they would come out with next, and was always impressed”

"Great to hear and couldn't agree more, we believe we are on the brink of something pretty special and look forward to finding new ways to represent and enable the community."

Ok… Lets talk concepts! Going one by one give your thoughts on why you like the following designs and what feedback would you give to the designer to improve the concept further?



“Love the idea to get his own community to vote for his best sketch…nice approach and worked well for him. It embraces the ethos of the competition brilliantly and glad to see it helped him into the top 5”

“...This one is very commercial - It would sell very well and is immediately wearable.”

“... I believe it lacks the 2nd layer of interest that a couple of the others have… with further refinement to go beyond a great looking shoe I believe this would be very interesting. So I’d encourage him to keep on refining”


“Balanced, nice quarter panel link to top line of tooling and has a commercial familiarity to it. Love the blocking and blend of materials. There is so much you can do with this shoe through materialization, printing, coloration, laser etching and moulding. This is important when designing an icon that you would like to be in the market place for longer than 6 months. You always need to be able to story tell, tone up, tone down, bring freshness, collaborate, have premium materialization/coloration possible."

“I can see inspiration from strong products that are on the marketplace. A certain familiarity is never a bad thing. I believe this concept would have benefited immensely by exploring, showing and communicating the massive color blocking opportunities to this very commercial concept”


“ This shoe has a very clever mix of materials gives a lot of opportunity to materialise the concept in various ways”

“The detail on the material map is really strong and gives a great indication into how he wants to see this realised this said, I personally felt the amount of ideas on the shoe was perhaps too much and I would envisage this shoe being quite busy as a final product. He could look at streamlining his key visual elements on the shoe for a more impactful effect”



“This is a very interesting concept – beautifully rendered and communicated. Lacing system looks pretty crazy – Albeit perhaps slightly non-functional, it would be great to understand further how he imagines this to be… very interesting nonetheless”

“I’m not sold on the colourway or the graphic – as it reminds me too much of an Adidas

citysock 2 design already done….so I would encourage him to look at ways to bring further differentiation and freshness. The elastic strap over the midfoot could be this component, supportive and will provide a brilliant fit”


“Very playful and commercial. The first thing that caught my eye was the iconic fit band. We talk about the airport view and creating an easily identifiable element that can be seen from a distance. Well this achieves that. This with the print blocking helps bring even more visual impact from a distance.”

“With the executions … I like the fun lacing solution. Not so sure how functional it is but definitely adds another layer of interest. Really like the minimal branding on heel tab. The graphic is where you bring the variety to this shoe. Love how you stayed consistent with the playful theme throughout with your box creation and colour choice."

“Is there too much similarity with the adidas originals shoe with this construction?.. Hmm maybe. This siad a fantastic looking shoe that by the way is definitely easiest to manufacture out of all of them”



“I dig the simplicity of his idea, and appreciate how well thought through the idea is, thinking about reinforcing the upper and designing where lateral support is needed."

"This was very close to being top spot for me.”

“Despite the shoe being a great example of beautiful simplicity, perhaps in a competition like this he could have used the opportunity to push the boundaries further by looking at subtle details that add interest”


“The concept is cool and the shaping is progressive. There are a good balance of materials/shapes to drive excitement in colour and material…."

“With the construction, these types of higher cut sock like silhouettes are definitely visible in the fashion/boutique channels. However as with many of these types of products how to wear this look will always make it a challenge commercially. Sales data has proven this time and time again. A consideration point should be how limited you would be in main material variety. It always has to be a high tension stretch textile which always come with risks like shrinkage and tension change. So not only is it limiting it would be tricky, that is what I would be considering here...”


“I believe this to be a very strong concept, very considered and has a beautiful balance of detailing. The exploration into colorways was phenomenal, and showed the opportunities of the design beyond its first release. When i look at developing concepts, i look at how they can live beyond a single release and i can imagine with the design DNA of the lateral/medial side, a whole range can be developed that lives on…”



“I found this concept interesting – i really like the braille detail on the heel – really adds a

sensory aspect to the product. Silhouette is clean and a nice selection of materials."

"… I’m just not sure on it though, I'm always looking for progressive, so i would encourage the designer to find that progressive element”


“I can’t tell if I f***ing love it or i f***ing hate it. Either way this type of look is definitely interesting!”

“The traditional collar opening with laces and tongue make it universally appealing. I like what you are doing on the rendering with making the tooling look bulkier. It’s a popular look right now. Overbuilt and thicker midsoles. Although I'm not sure that would be the reality of the finished product. I would encourage the designer to define his consumer in more depth to help give context to the design”

“Love the coded branding. Subtle, provides an element of user discovery and not the obvious choice.... Actually I think I love it!”


“This is the type of concept that could be huge now, then 10 years time, be huge again”

“...I appreciate the use of different premium materials, and used in a very powerful and smart ways. Id encourage Anton, to define his concept a step or two further by looking into finishes, edges and construction to help it be more understandable. A really great idea with brilliant coded stories though!”



"I'm a designer who likes to pay attention to the foot anatomy, and how we as designers to select appropriate materials and functionalities, that help support the foot and offer better comfort. That’s why I chose @kaitochoy.

I like his approach. I love his sketch explorations. Really focusing on the tendons running across the midfoot – looking at how he can lock the heel in and the upper has a nice minimalism to it – very simple and elegant and I’m a keen advocator of that style.

Some beautiful details like the small Laceless logo, nice attention to detail as to where its positioned and the 2 colour webbing, I like the unexpectedness of the underside being a pop colour.

The black and gold colourway has a premium feel, yet commercial and i’d love to see that

shoe in production!"


“Firstly insane rendering skills. The depth is fantastic. The colour schemes used are also well considered and commendable. Really shows the depth of layering and texture selection. Conceptually this shoe looks very futuristic, balanced, fast and incredibly well considered."

“I would loved to have seen the medial side to understand how your lacing system works.

I would also like to have seen a toe down view to see how you finished the heat welded panels in the forefoot and how you envision the tpu vamp strap to look. We also need to consider the toe shape that is rather idealistic on this concept. All are engineering challenges that need some work to get right!”

“Nice subtle branding. This higher cut version is definitely more commercial than seanemoto due to the lower heel height and the various elements that distract the eye from the length of the vamp when viewing toe down.”


“This rendering is world class. It immediately communicates the key details in a clear but beautiful way.”

“... i love its innovative feel, its going to lead and look different”

“I would want to dig deeper into refining a few details with @kaitochoy, there may be opportunities to mean more by doing less on the shoe… but thats all engineering challenges… a stunning concept built from a clear understandable insight that comes through beautifully”

There we go! Instead of sugar coating it, some direct quotes from the conversations to give you a strong flavor of the intense discussions. We can honestly say that with all the opinions on the table, each of the concepts sat in the no.1 spot at one point during the day, so credit to all the designs and we wish we could make them all! Maybe one day we will… for now though, no time to rest because it’s time to make! Expect to hear more as we begin to show you how we take this render into production throughout August!