Fron June 3 through July 3, 2014 we launched THE NINJA on Kickstarter. It became the fastest funded shoe ever on the website, and as of June the most funded shoe ever on the website.
From July 3 - July18, 2014 we will be finalizing our molds for our EVA foam rubber outsoles. During this period we will be taking pre-orders of THE NINJA here on our website that will ship just after the Kickstarter shoes ship from our factory in September.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NINJA...
THE UT.LAB creates awesome shoes out of cutting edge materials, using advanced design processes, and ultra lean production methods.
Nearly a year ago we launched our very first design on Kickstarter, THE LIGHT WING TRAINER: Pencil. It was during our testing and manufacturing runs that we realized that our "ultra lean" production was in need of improvement.
So, naturally, we flipped the design process on it's head, and Token Hu, our co-founder, set out on a mission to create a manufacturing led designed shoe.
After almost 12 months of factory re-tooling, prototyping, and street testing, THE NINJAwas born and we are releasing it in 4 colorways.
With resources dedicated to our original LIGHT WING series, THE NINJA is still in the late stage of development.
1. Create a full set of of injection molds for the new EVA foam rubber outsoles
2. Standardize our 3D molds to unify our model sizing
3. Pre-purchase all materials in bulk and reserve factory time and tooling for THENINJA production
The involvement of the entire team throughout the design process, from factory floor workers, to quality control managers, to factory managers, to our entire design team made the creation of THE NINJA an incredible experience.
THE NINJA project was the first time we implemented (from end-to-end) THE UT.LABscientific approach to footwear design where we:
1. Identify a Problem, 2. Develop a Challenge, then use 3. Rapid Prototyping and small batch testing, followed by a 4. Demand-driven go-to-market strategy.
1. An incredibly simplified manufacturing process
2. Re-imagined and re-usable packaging
3. A new standard in comfort, lightweight, and minimalist design in casual shoes
Throughout this prototyping period we studied everything from the number of stitches, to patterns cut, molds set, adhesives used, and materials required.
We started with TYVEK®, the material we had become so accustom to using, but as we played with it we decided we wanted to try our hand with new materials.
We moved on to the most commonly used material in footwear, PU. Look no further than your closet, and you will find shoe after shoe made of PU. We found it to be too bulky and heavy, while simultaneously absorbing too much foot heat and moisture.
It was MICROFIBER that gave us the perfect balance as a material we could do so much with, without having to rely on other components to create form and providecomfort, reduce total component structure, and speed up manufacturing time without sacrificing quality.
At 1/20th the diameter of a strand of silk, microfiber is durable while being super comfortable and soft to touch.
Technically speaking 'microfiber' is a general term used for many of the synthetic materials born in the late 1950's. The discovery and commercial experimentation with Microfiber began with TORAY and DUPONT. In fact TYVEK®, the fundamental material to our LIGHT WING series, is classified as a microfiber.
The Microfiber we have chosen for THE NINJA is a woven flash-spun terylene with non-split fibers.
Where most of the Microfibers you are accustomed to are designed to be soft and absorb water, this Microfiber is a bit different.
We are using a Microfiber that repels water (non-split fiber), is durable and strong (flash-spun), soft to the touch (a woven microfiber), and sustainable (terylene).
No. This time around we have a much better understanding of our factory's capabilities. We feel comfortable not having to limit our production on this run of THE NINJA.
THE NINJA has been designed for intelligent factory production, and we're excited to have our Kickstarter backers be a part of this process. In fact we will allow backers (after the project closes) to choose from one of 4 colorways.
NINJA APPRENTICES - $64
At this backer level you are getting one pair of THE NINJAS, and you're helping us make this project a reality. [One pair of NINJAs in any color and size]
(Suggested Retail: $64). ($6 US Shipping)*($16 International. Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in late July 2014)
Every backer will receive their NINJAS packaged in an all-new re-usable UT.LAB TYVEK shoe-tote.
We designed this bag for international courier delivery in mind, as we attempt to reduce our impact on domestic and global shipping, while simultaneously creating a tote-bagthat you will love to carry around with you to the gym, to the office, or on your next trip.
The Velvet TYVEK® Tote makes the perfect travel companion when you're on the go. You can chuck an extra pair of THE NINJAS in your briefcase and not worry about scuffing up you laptop.
Or you can go tote-less, and just chuck them in with THE NINJA Wrap.
Or for slightly longer trips THE NINJA makes the perfect shoe to throw in your carry-on.
And the ultimate shoe to make airport security checkpoints a breeze.
AT CHECKOUT, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PROVIDE YOUR SIZE.
ALL BACKERS WILL RECEIVE A MESSAGE FROM US TO REQUEST YOUR SHOE SIZE AT THE BEGINNING OF JULY AFTER THE PROJECT CLOSES.
THE NINJA IS A UNISEX DESIGN.
US Men's Size 5-15 || US Women's Size 6-16 || EURO 37-48
Only FULL SIZES will be available.
NO half-sizes will be made for THE NINJA.
Getting the right fit in shoes is always a bit tricky. But, we have spent the last year working with customers to better understand general sizing. It will never be perfect, but we feel confident that you should get the right fit. The width of the shoe is between aD/E, so those with slightly wider feet, shouldn’t worry about our sizing. On top of that, Microfiber is quite flexible and offers a forgiving and soft flexibility. Because we are not producing half sizes, then we suggest that you order the next half size up (i.e. if you're a 9.5, you'll want to order a 10).
We are constantly exploring new materials and the application of those materials in footwear. Obviously there are many materials and design elements that go into our shoes, but let's focus on three: Microfiber, EVA Foam Rubber, and the Poliyou Insole.
The combination of these three material choices has allowed us to perfect our weight to strength to minimalism ratio. The shoes are just impossibly light and impossibly minimal, weighing in at less than 130g per shoe (Men's size US 11), and using less than 8 major components.
The Microfiber in THE NINJA is the perfect solution for our minimal design concept. It's strength has allowed us to use it as the sole material to wrap around the manufacturing last, while simultaneously keeping the minimalist silhouette form and providing a high level of everyday endurance.
We are constantly being asked if THE NINJA outer will soak up water like a "shami", the answer is No. THE NINJA Microfiber is a non-split terylene. It's a synthetic designed to repel water while maintaing an incredibly soft texture.
Our first Kickstarter allowed us to launch our EVA foam rubber outsole. And for this time around we have taken the durability, flexibility, and street tests from the first Kickstarter to perfect our newest EVA "cupped outsole.
The cupped structure has allowed us to reduce the weight and maintain the identicalstrength and comfort of the LIGHT WING TRAINER outsole.
Sometimes there is no need to re-invent the wheel. We are sticking with our POLIYOU insole. We have made some minor modifications for the fit and feel inside THE NINJA.
Combined with the EVA foam rubber outsole, and utlra-minimal design of the shoe, you get a low profile shoe that gives you similar cushion to what you feel in a more advanced cross-trainer athletic shoe.
POLIYOU has three core features: it's got some crazy ventilation ability, it absorbs moisture quite nicely, and helps to stave off bacteria growth.
1. We create footwear that is impossibly light.
2. We advance science through every aspect of our design, material choice, and business model.
3. We are empowering tomorrow's leaders by cooperating with leading education organizations to to make science cool.
We think science is cool, and it is the thread that ties every element of our company, our culture, and our brand together. We create awesome shoes so we can change the world.
We believe changing the world starts with empowering tomorrow’s leaders with an awesome education and access to rock star educators. You can find out how we are working with Teach for America this school year by clicking here.
Science is our passion, and it is the fundamental element that drives the hundreds of laboratory experiments that take place on every aspect of footwear design we produce before it hits the market.
We are an interesting mix of industrial designers, graphic artists, ceramic artists, logistics specialists, and serial entrepreneurs. You can visit our site and learn more about us here, but in a nutshell the core team is six people who have come together by a random connection over the past two years, who each as individuals, really wanted to change the world around them.
Unbelievable Testing Laboratory is now our vehicle to do awesome things.
Token Hu, founder and head designer is a native Chinese with years of experience at frog design and Microsoft. Shaun Nath, originally from Southern California, is a brand expert and logistics specialist who was introduced to the project by Joseph Constanty, a native of Philly, and the ever persistent entrepreneur in China. Wyatt Bai and Kong Kong are our graphic whiz-kids behind any media we produce. And of course Jacinta Huang a ceramicist and dancer by training has become our go-to "fixer". We also have to give a shout out to two amazing interns Jono Harley and Kelly Talento who played a big part in making this campaign happen.
For the past two and one-half years we have been working closely with our factories to better understand the entire manufacturing process. THE NINJA is a product born from the manufacturing floor, and a product we feel very comfortable with at this stage working with our factory. We have simplified the component make-up of the shoe so to minimize the manufacturing impact.
The shoes you see in the video are real prototypes that we have been lab and street testing for the past ten months. Having worked closely with our factories, their workers, and the owners throughout this entire design process, we feel comfortable in fulfilling an order of any size up to 10,000 units and fulfill at the beginning of September.