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Nike Upgrades Sneaker Customization With New Real-Time 3-D Experience

Nike is bringing real-time, 3-D customization to its online storefront on Monday when it relaunches its design personalization program, Nike By You, complete with new features and its very own sneaker drop.

The new Nike Air Max 720/95 Heron Preston By You will release not as one of the sneaker industry’s famous limited drops, as one might expect from a collaboration between Nike and an up-and-coming designer. Instead, the sneaker will launch with a new and improved version of Nike By You, the brand’s online customization tool that allows shoppers to create their own custom sneakers directly from their browsers.

The service, launched in 2012 as NikeiD, has been popular with online shoppers since its inception—perhaps none more important than Heron Preston, the designer behind Nike By You’s exclusive sneaker drop.

“NikeiD was a first-of-its-kind experience from a brand that allowed consumers to take their product and make it their own,” said Preston, who had previously worked for Nike until leaving to create his own label with Virgil Abloh, in a statement on the news. “Early on, I was able to put my own spin on an iconic classic, the AF1. Today, the capabilities are being pushed so far.”

Those capabilities will be expanded when Nike upgrades its tech a week from now. Along with expanded customization options, the tool’s interface will be upgraded from a simple, customizable static picture to a fully 3-D model. Users can manipulate their creations, viewing them from every angle and zooming in to inspect each detail.

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“With Nike by You’s 3D builder, customization goes from a fixed state to dynamic experience,” Nike said. “Zoom functionality also allows for close-up views of the product details. When an idea is completed, a unique, sharable snapshot of the finished shoe is quickly rendered.”

Integrating a social component into its customization process is just another step toward the complete digitization of its business that Nike has aspired to in recent years. Preston expects users of the new tool to simply enjoy the act of building a custom sneaker in their own image, challenging fans of the customization tech to create the most eye-catching and potentially wacky designs possible.

“It is really exciting and for me to be at the start of this magic toolbox of putting things together and taking things apart,” Preston said. “People are tired of seeing things that are so perfect. It’s almost a competition, who can deliver the most outrageous?”

The exclusive sneaker Preston chose for the release seems to itself hint at the power of customization. The Air Max 720/95 is a hybrid of two popular Nike silhouettes, the Air Max 720 and the Air Max 95.  Preston mimicked the way users will interact with Nike By You’s new features by combining his favorite features from both styles to create something new—only to release it to the public to be contorted into an untold number of configurations.

“With the Nike Air Max 720/95 Heron Preston By You, Preston’s historic love for the Air Max 95 (it was the first Air Max he owned) matches up with an excitement for the Air Max 720 that is bolstered by engaging in something Preston himself is personally hyped on: customization,” Nike explained.