The Take Flight 1.0 has released with a huge amount of love and support from the worldwide Parkour community. But since the shoe’s New Year’s launch on January 1st, the question has been circling – why the heck does the Take Flight 1.0 have four stripes? The answer is simple: Bruce Lee. Here is the story behind it.
The first-final rendition of the Take Flight 1.0 (actual rendition #40 or so), had stripes on the side. I loved this look from the get-go, so when we reached this point I specifically designed the shoe to have 7 stripes. The number 7 is a prominent number in many religions and philosophies, and it is often seen as the perfect number. We designed the Take Flight 1.0 to be perfect, so the symbolism of 7 embedded into the shoe was ideal and exactly what I wanted.
Although the 7 stripes were cool, after a few weeks of working with it we realized the design didn’t quite translate to production. When we took the shoe to prototyping there just wasn’t enough room for 7 stripes on the side! Plus this design had other issues. We didn’t know quite what to do, so the number of stripes was cut down to 5 and then 3, and that was where it sat for a while – in limbo.
Here is a never-before released image of that first-final Take Flight 1.0 design. Shown here, it has 6 stripes instead of 7 which is what you get when you collab with a graphic artists and you choose not to be a dictator about details that won’t make it to production anyway.
So as I said, the 7/6 stripes was cut down to 5 and then 3. Three stripes was better than five, but the problems with 3 stripes were twofold. First of all, and most importantly, the shoe didn’t look complete. While the five-stripes looked crammed, the three stripes looked too spacious. But oddly enough that didn’t lead me to choose 4 stripes. In fact, I specifically wanted an odd number of stripes, so going with 4 was out of the question at this point. Second of all, and very important as well, although 3 stripes was set to be the winner by default, three stripes is the Adidas way. Adidas isn’t as cool as Take Flight (we didn’t want to downgrade), plus we didn’t want any legal trouble. So 3 also became a no-go. Again, I was stuck and didn’t know what to do.
Here is a never before released graphic mock-up of our 5-stripe design:
I knew I wanted stripes, but none of the choices felt right. So I immediately began searching online for inspiration in the hopes of finding something that would lead me to a decision with meaning.
One of the original, original, 19-months-ago-original visions behind the shoe was designing the Take Flight 1.0 to be tiger-like. The speed, strength, and stealth of a tiger is – to me – a strong symbol of the movement and vision of an adept Traceur, and that’s the feel I wanted the shoe to have from the beginning. So going back to the square-one inspiration I started looking up tiger stripes; which quickly led me to tiger claws; which quickly led me to tiger scrapes; and the light bulb went off. Bruce Lee – Enter the Dragon.
I looked up photos of Bruce Lee from his iconic last complete film, Enter the Dragon, and there he was with that giant tiger-claw type scrape across his chest. There were four lines. Bingo. Four stripes it was.
To be blunt, as cool as Bruce Lee is, the Take Flight 1.0 was designed for Parkour, and with greats like David Belle and Raymond Belle as my main inspirations, I never planned or wanted to take inspiration from a martial artists for the design of our first shoe. But Bruce Lee is the exception. And why? Because of David Belle’s admiration for him.
Anyone who knows David personally knows that David is a Bruce Lee fanatic! When I spent Christmas with David in 2012 his favorite present that year was a Bruce Lee figurine. The Take Flight 1.0 actually started off as the David Belle shoe, and David was the initial structural designer and consultant when we began working on it in August 2012. So it’s only fitting that the final version of this shoe has a small ode to one of his biggest inspirations, Bruce Lee, who is also, of course, an inspiration for countless Traceurs worldwide. The only thing better, some might say, would have been to have design aspects inspired by Raymond Belle. But actually the Take Flight 1.0 does have that. Ryamond is where the symbolism of the strength of a tiger came from in the first place.
David has said that Parkour is like a martial art except that you don’t combat people – you combat obstacles. And in that mentality, when you look deep into the movement philosophies of Parkour by David Belle and Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee, you’ll see many, many similarities. Through its function and design the Take Flight 1.0 incorporates and reflects the legacies and philosophies of both of these great men and their disciplines. Admittedly, again, incorporating Bruce Lee and his legacy into the Take Flight 1.0 wasn’t what I set out to do. But as Lee was/is a big inspiration for David, I couldn’t be more pleased that it turned out this way.
So there you have it. The Take Flight 1.0 – The Greatest Parkour Shoe of All Time. Designed for Traceurs, with concept vision inspired by Raymond Belle, function inspired by David Belle, and the four stripes inspired by Bruce Lee and his film Enter the Dragon. I hope that when you wear this shoe, you feel inspired by the strength and poise of these great men, and I hope that inspiration leads you to find ways to push yourself to new limits just as they did. Regardless of how far you push yourself, there is no doubt that just by wearing the Take Flight 1.0, the inspiration and vision whence the shoe came will have you mentally in great company and poised to Take Flight.