Simon Skirrow is the man who jointly designed the Adidas Predator along with former Liverpool star Craig Johnston. Involved in the sports shoe market place from the age of 17, he became one of the youngest ever Vice President’s at Adidas in charge of global production, sales and marketing. After a hugely successful period in Germany and then the USA, he took a spell out of the industry before returning to set up Nomis.' '
FB: Having spent much of early career at the top of the Adidas tree before moving on to other projects, what made you decide to return to the industry?
SS: I was watching an international rugby match, England v South Africa and I thought that the skill levels on show were quite poor and it was clear that the equipment on this particularly rainy day simply wasn’t helping them. My thinking was that if the professional sportsmen, those who were born with talent, need some help with skills, then the ordinary man in the street most certainly will. So in 2001 I looked with a very critical eye at the industry and thought if I come back am I doing so because I can’t do anything else, because I can’t let go or because I think I can produce better products than those already out there.
Now I firmly believe that every brand has to do what they think is right and I agree that coloured, lightweight boots have an appeal to certain school kids or players who want to look cool and have the current day stuff and that’s OK. It’s the same with cars, the same with fashion – why would football boots be any different? But for me, if you are going to wear a football boot, why put yourself through the agony of blisters and damaged toes just because you believe that the boot is made by a credible company.
It’s my feeling that the industry hasn’t provided the education to the buying public and so the consumer has no idea what boot is right for them.
FB: Not so long ago, there was a massive debate raging about the number of kits each team brought out on a regular basis, do you think we are seeing that same scenario now with boots appearing in colourway after colourway?
SS: Its gone mad hasn’t’ it and in some ways, it’s got ahead of itself. And you could argue that the market is potentially taking the consumer for granted. In saying that, football has to thank a number of the big brands for the investment that they’ve put in to the sport. Let’s face it, Fifa, Uefa, clubs like Man Utd have had a great supply of revenue and investment from these brands because equipment has become so iconic and fashionable. So on one hand you’ve got to say that they’ve done a lot of good things. On the other hand, this monthly or bi-monthly release is a mockery of the way a football boot needs to perform in tune with the foot and the human body as a whole.
Your foot doesn’t change every 2 months and if you really love a boot, how annoying is it that a couple of months later that model has been dropped in favour of another that don’t fit you quite as well? I imagine that the consumer will start voting with their feet and perhaps looking around mid size and smaller brands for something a little more permanent.
FB: Does it concern you that Nomis boots aren’t endorsed by a horde of Premier League players?
SS: No, not at all. I can honestly say that my focus is working with the amateur player who turns out at the weekend and trains 2 or 3 times a week. With the exception of Australia where I started the Nomis brand and have personal relationships with a number of professionals who really want to wear the boots, I’m not going to drive the brand by paying out fortunes for endorsements. It’s not the direction I want to go in at all. Now, if a top Premier League player came to talk to me, my overriding thought process would be ‘what sort of a man is he’? However, the reality is you normally only get to meet the agent or the marketing company and you can talk till you are blue in the face about the qualities of the boot, the innovation and technical aspect of it because all they are interested in is how much money they are going to get paid.
FB: Just a couple of quick fire questions to finish off. What’s the favourite boot that you’ve played in, including one Nomis boot and one other?
SS: My favourite boot growing up, for about 15 years or so, was the Adidas Penarol which was the creation of a wonderful French designer called Jacques Chassaing. I loved it. A for my own stuff, it has to be the Nomis Glove because even now, I’d suggest it’s 10 years ahead of it’s time.
FB: And lastly, which do you think is the most important boot to have been designed over the past 25 years?
SS: I’d have to say the Adidas Predator because what Craig and I tried to do was to change football boot design from the 60’s and 70’s and bring it right up to date. And whilst I don’t think the boot was perfect, I think it changed the way people appreciated how performance could be built in to a football boot.