According to the press release, Nike and Martine Rose are redefining sport for a new generation of athletes. What does that mean? Evidently, the Nike x Martine Rose SHOX Mule MR4 ‘dissolves the boundary between ‘getting off the plane and getting on the pitch’. The shoe is being released in connection with England hosting Europe’s women’s football championship. Coincidentally, not only was that the purpose behind making the shoe, but the championship was also the inspiration behind it.
“We recognized a great opportunity to really focus on women and football and then make a trainer that is almost like a smart shoe,” says Rose. Causing that recognition was the observation that while male players arrive at international tournaments in bespoke tailoring, female players tend to travel in standard issue team tracksuits. This inspired a new mule shape for the SHOX R4.
“We really wanted to make the SHOX like a high heel basically, and the factories had never done that before, so we really pushed them to go beyond what they felt their capabilities were, because we got a lot of pushback at first,” says Rose. “Nike supported us and encouraged the factory to go there and, finally, we landed on this style that works really well. It’s really a beautiful shape.”
The result is a shoe that bears a striking resemblance to a pair of football shoes, but with an elevated heel. Think football boots mixed with high heels and you’ll get a general idea. The SHOX columns are transformed into a heel, the foot is elongated, and the toe expresses a bolder aesthetic. Synthetic leather is used with embossed padding. The piping and colour are inspired by the football’s material.
The shoes are being released in conjunction with a new jersey designed to celebrate the women of football. The campaign brings in some of those women, such as players like Maria Romanchenko or England’s first Black female football manager, Hope Powell. “We have a pilot, we have mothers, we have a human right’s lawyer,” says Rose. “These are stories we need to tell, that women overcome unbelievable odds to play for free.”