VIRTUE 01 training footwear

For the better part of the past year I’ve been working toward launching a brand of my own, focused on the functional training market and starting with footwear. I’ve been sampling and testing prototypes since January, and while things aren’t quite ready for the brand’s full launch (hopefully on Kickstarter in the fall) I confirmed pattern this week and kicked off colorways. To get a jump on things while I wait for color samples I built out a simple intro site with some quick renderings to preview both the product and the look and voice of the brand.

This had been an incredibly rewarding experience so far, striking out on my own for the first time in my career. I’m looking forward to all of the crazy challenges ahead before things officially get off the ground. In the meantime, enjoy.

Congrats Jeff. Nice imagery. I’ve always been apprehensive about launching a footwear brand… opening up a size run, buying inventory, and shipping have always seemed a bit much to me, but I have a few friends who have done this successfully a couple of times! Is it a cut and buff midsole with a flat mold rubber wrapped around like the Nike Waffle Racer? That is a good way to keep tooling costs down.

Thanks, Michael. Using sheet rubber was actually my initial concept. Alas it didn’t hold up during testing. There were too many variables when it came to skiving, cementing, stock fitting, etc., and I quickly destroyed a couple pairs of prototypes climbing up and sliding down ropes. Kept the cut and buff midsole in order to retain the ability to tune the different layers of EVA for maximum stability, but the rubber is a fully molded cupsole.

The up-front cost of tooling is a little scary, but for now I’ve only opened a single sample mold that I’m stoked to say is performing beautifully. Definitely taking the additional tooling cost into account, though, as I finish pricing and goals for the Kickstarter campaign.

Project Update:

¡First color samples are on their way! Everything is on schedule for a launch on Kickstarter this fall, just ironing out all of the logistic details and hoping all of this tariff nonsense cools down before I place a PO. I’ll have to hit the ground running on photo, video, and marketing once the samples arrive in order to make my timeline, but it’s getting closer and closer.

best wishes for a smooth launch Jeff!

Great color work! Not easy to get that well of a match.

What do you plan to use for Insoles? Ortholite? They have a nice new foam with a high rebound that may work well in sheet or 3D form. Since these are full textile, they should land around 9% duty? Not sure how much changes for footwear out of CN

Woooooo, the final samples look great, well done! I’ll be following with interest. Do tell us more about the whole kickstarter process if you are willing. I’ve been shying away from it, as it seems to require quite a bit of investment too nowadays.

Also loving those NewBaiLun shoeboxes! :slight_smile:

Looking forward to see how things go.


PS. I always love those fake New Balance brands they got in china “NewBaiLun” (on the box under your samples)

Thanks, Kershaw. I definitely hammered home how important it was to get the colors to sync up. Footbeds are compression EVA. Ortholite and other PU foams I tested were too soft for this type of training shoe, where stability and power transfer are two of the biggest user needs. Unfortunately they’re subject to (what is normally) a 20% duty that’s already increased to 25% and may jump to 35% in 2020 because our president is incompetent.

Haha I totally missed that when I got those pictures.

Thanks to all for the well-wishes. I’ll definitely keep the updates flowing. The Kickstarter process will be especially interesting as I’m squarely not in the realm of the projects you see spending a couple hundred grand on carpet bomb-style advertising. Fingers crossed my grassroots strategy works out.

This is particularly exciting to follow, the product looks clean and pure, all the best for a smooth launch!

A detail I liked from the design is the slightly asymmetric throat opening for the shoe. It’s a good small little detail because our instep volume is actually quite varied and round and thus by bringing the laces down a little bit more asymmetrical, you can take lace tension off the instep (especially on high volume foot).

It could just be the angle of the 3/4 views of the samples, the asym. action doesn’t seem as apparent there in those photos. But dig the product and the saturated yet earth colorways!

Lastly, curious as to what CAD software you used for these 3D models?

Thanks for the kind words. The asymmetric throat was definitely a conscious decision for both fit and aesthetic. With such a clean upper it was important for me to include small details like this to indicated the level of care I’m taking in the design and development of the shoe.

The shoes were modeled, very roughly, in Rhino and rendered in Bunkspeed (special shout out to a nearly decade old software package that’s still kickin’ it.) I had a 3D file of the outsole from the tooling vendor and cross-sections of the last to build from. It’s a quick and dirty model by any standard, but it was good enough to use for this level of pre-vis. I’m hoping to have studio photography wrapped up this weekend. I’ll get those shots up here and on the site as soon as I can.

Slowly but steadily making my way through the photo edits. First batch of laterals…

One more for Bruce Lee and The Bride

Looks clean. Nice colorways, Jeff!


Color is often the unsung hero in footwear. I used to say to my team it doesn’t matter how innovative or cool a shoe is, if people don’t want a red shoe, they are not going to buy it. The color people I’ve worked with in footwear often seemed so far more advanced in terms of trend research and predicting color adoption than folks I’ve worked with in other industries. I was always surprised more of them were not picked up by automotive, CE, and furniture companies. Maybe the nature of those categories being more conservative just doesn’t make them as relevant as they are in performance footwear and apparel.

Sorry, a little OT :slight_smile: … also, good color strategy with making the upper the big hit and keeping the tooled parts neutral.

Just be sure to order by qty 60% black, 30% grey and 10% everything else. :wink:

I joke. But kinda. All for hero loss leader colorways though.


yup, too true. I’m guilty of it as well as a consumer… “oh look at this!!! ok, cool, comes in white white…”

Thanks for the kind words. It has definitely been a nightmare attempting to balance fun, cool, modern, and commercial all in 4-6 colorways, but I’m pretty happy with them as a launch collection that’s representative of the brand as a whole.

Starting to populate the website and the brand’s Instagram. Kickstarter video shoot is next on the docket.