U of M Grad Makes Splash in NFL with Lavish Adidas Shoe Designs

June 21, 2018 12:40 PM

A young man from Bloomington is making a big splash in the NFL.

Charlie Kirihara isn't a player; he is a footwear designer for Adidas, and the University of Minnesota helped make that happen.


Kirihara had a plan when arrived at the U of M.

"From, like, day one when I got here, I knew I wanted to work in footwear design," he said. "I just didn't know how to do it."

Then Kirihara met his faculty advisor, Sue Chu, who is also the director of the graphic design program in the College of Design. The university doesn't offer a major in footwear design, but Chu had a message: "Follow your dream. Follow passion. Don't be afraid to tell people what you like to do."

Kirihara did, and he chose courses to help him build a portfolio.

"Shoe design is kind of like graphic design, apparel design and product design at the same time," he said.

"We are not trying to provide a cookie-cutter education here" Chu said. "Every student takes his or her own path."

The university helped Kirihara connected with Minnesota grads, and one happened to work for Adidas. A door was opened, and the rest is history.

Now you see Kirihara's work every weekend in the NFL.

"I painted a bunch of cleats for our different players, so I did, I think, 11 of our players had custom cleats."  

Defensive end and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller of the Denver Broncos is one of his favorite athletes to work with. Kirihara created several pairs of lavish cleats for Miller to wear before games. Some even have rooster feathers because Miller likes chickens.

"Von is a chicken conneseur, and has been quoted as saying, 'Roosters are dope,'" Kirihara said.

Kirihara also made shoes for Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins. Norman is a fan of Batman. The cleats look rather plain, but when light flashes on the reflective graphics, you can see the bat signal with Norman's "JNO 24" logo over the nation's capital.

"My target for this year was to take what we do for the NFL and kind of escalate it and make it bigger and more grand," Kirihara said.

Football cleats are his canvas, and it only happened because he learned to dream big.

Kirihara is currently working on Adidas footwear we will see in stores in 2018. 

See more of his work here.

Learn about the University of Minnesota College of Design here.


Kevin Doran

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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