After months on pins and needles, Steph Curry fans have been treated to their first look at the baller’s latest basketball shoe—and the first signature design from his eponymous brand within Under Armour.
The Curry Flow 8 will be Curry Brand’s introductory sneaker, dropping Dec. 11. The shoe represents the first product in of a suite of footwear, apparel and athletic accessories to be released over the course of future seasons. According to Under Armour’s design and development team, the new silhouette features a never-before-seen cushioning platform, dubbed UA Flow, that upends the industry standard for basketball shoe design.
The Curry Flow 8 does away entirely with the traditional rubber outsole seen on most athletic footwear, they said, providing superior ground contact and traction with a more minimalist construction. While most performance shoes amalgamate two or three materials across the midsole and outsole, including TPUs, EVAs and rubbers, UA Flow technology employs a “unisole” design made from a proprietary foam compound.
“When we saw how sticky this material was on hardwood, we knew this was going to be groundbreaking,” Fred Dojan, Under Armour Innovation’s vice president of footwear development, said in a statement. Over the course of more than two decades working to develop innovative for athletes, he added, “This is the most excited I’ve been about the opportunity and potential of new technology in a very long time.”
According to Dojan, the Curry Flow 8 underwent 13 rounds of wear-testing on the court, as well as 10 rounds of biomechanical trials with more than 100 athletes. The lineup included 35 college and high school basketball players, whose input helped the team fine-tune the UA Flow technology over the course of more than 1,500 hours of training and play.
The development process took more than three years, with collaboration across Under Armour’s innovation, product design, biomechanics, athlete and consumer insights team, along with input from materials science company Dow.
“We had worked with Dow on UA HOVR and had great success there,” Dojan said. “Under Armour does a meeting with them every year and we walked through new materials that could apply to footwear and apparel.” Dow shared ideas for the new foam concept, which was light in weight but offered substantial energy return. Notably, it also displayed properties for “good traction and durability,” Dojan added.
While the brand debated debuting the material on a running shoe sometime in 2021, the decision to incorporate it into the Curry Flow 8 ultimately came down to the two-time NBA MVP himself. Tom Luedecke, Under Armour’s director of footwear design and a Curry collaborator since the superstar athlete released his second shoe with the company, said, “It was Stephen’s call, basically.”
The design team shared some prototypes, which they dubbed “Frankenstein shoes” internally, with the Golden State Warriors point guard in early 2019. “We take an old existing upper and put them on a new midsole, just to get him to feel what that new sole feels like,” he said.
Curry was so enamored with the material’s performance on the court that he insisted it be incorporated into his first Curry Brand release. “He just flipped the script on us,” Luedecke said. “He challenged us to pull it forward, and quickly.”
UA Flow was concocted with completely different specifications than the cushioning systems found in most basketball sneakers, he added, using a soft, flexible foam instead of a stiff-yet-supportive combination of dense foam and rubber. Luedecke explained that the foam also grips the court with no skidding or slippage.
“How I judge a shoe’s traction has always been about the squeak,” Curry said, adding that he used to believe the sound denoted a shoe’s effectiveness at stopping athletes in their tracks. “The technology in Flow is crazy because it’s silent, there is literally no squeak.”
“And that’s because there’s no air between the shoe and the court,” he added. “It’s hands down the grippiest shoe I’ve ever worn; it’s the real deal.”