Nike Basketball Design Director Leo Chang on Social Media's Influence on Sneakers: 'It's Crazy How Quick a Crying Jordan Can End Up On Something'

At the KD9 launch event, Nike Basketball Design Director Leo Chang explained how social media has impacted sneaker design.

Kevin Durant and Leo Chang

Leo Chang knows shoes.

As Nike's Basketball Design Director, Chang has had a hand in a plethora of high profile kicks. He's been the lead designer for the KD series ever since Kevin Durant first signed with the company during his rookie season in the NBA.

Chang's latest creation—the Nike KD9—released on June 20th. Featuring a Flyknit upper and a heel-to-toe tapered Zoom air bag, the shoe is designed to support Durant's do-it-all game.

At the KD9 launch event in Austin, Texas, STACK got a chance to catch up with Chang. After breaking down all the impressive cutting-edge technology that went into the KD9, he shifted the conversation to social media.

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We've seen a number of shoes get mercilessly roasted on social media over the past year or so, so we were curious to hear how social media can influence a designer. Here's what Chang had to say:

I think each shoe is a little different. There are some shoes that grow on you, and there are some shoes where the hate continues. You do have to take some of it with a grain of salt, because the world is so quick right now with reactions to stuff. It's crazy how quick a Crying Jordan face can end up on anything. Some of it you certainly have to take with a grain of salt, some of it you just have to laugh—because it is hilarious. And then some of it you have to say, "oh, you know, they had a good point there." So it's a balance—gauging where people are at overall, what extremes people are at and then kinda making your own call. No one is going to like everything you come out with. But you have to push and continue to push. If you're always comfortable, that means you're not pushing enough. You should have that feeling of "eh, I've never seen that before" or "eh, that's a little bit different." Maybe people will hate on something at first then grow to like it. I think it's also resulted, in general, with design and style being a little bit safer than it was a few years ago. People don't want to get flamed on the internet. People don't want to get publicly shamed. So they will resort to playing it safer. You see a lot of companies and a lot of brands toning it down, because they don't want to get hated on. But there are moments where you still need to push. And with [the KD9], I think we're still pushing but still appealing to the masses.

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It's an interesting insight from one of the world's most influential sneaker designers. The KD9 definitely has a different look from Durant's previous signature shoes, but it maintains the sleek silhouette fans have come to love.

Get a closer look at the KD9 below.

KD9 Preheat

KD9 Preheat 2

KD9 Preheat 3

KD9 Oreo


KD9 Sketch

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock