Continuing to keep discussions alive during lockdown, we reached out to Nike Gel team to hear how they’re keeping focussed during these times. Coming courtesy of Clara Bonaccorsi, Clara works as part of product creation within Nike’s Gel Team focusing on the sneaker community of Europe.
Speaking digitally, we discuss Clara’s current inspiration, what footwear she’s currently wearing and what it’s like to be part of the team that create some of the most recognisable sneakers.
Footpatrol : Hey Clara, hope you are keeping well! For our readers please can you introduce yourself?
Clara: HI everyone, my name is Clara Bonaccorsi, born out of the west coast of Scotland, with Italian roots I have lived most of my adult life in the Netherlands. I work at Nike in the team of Geo Express Lane essentially product creation for Footwear, focused on the sneaker community of Europe.
FP: How did you get into the role of PLM?
Clara: I followed my passion and love for sneakers all the way from the Isle of Bute to the Netherlands at the age of 18. I started working at Footlocker HQ as a BA. I spent many years there learning the world of buying and merchandising, & the European market. I made a huge network at footlocker including account executives from all the major Brands but Nike was top of mind for me. I got the opportunity to apply for a buying role in Nike in 2007 and have spent the last 13 years at the swoosh. The last 6 of them in product creation. A dream come true. Hard work and passion has landed me here.
FP: As a part of the Nike GEL Team you have been involved in some great projects, yet the team remains relatively unknown to the public. Are you able to shed some light on who the GEL team are?
Clara: The GEL team is an extremely talented mix of individuals from all corners of the world. We have Designers working across all aspects of Color, Materials and Graphics. Developers who work with our production factories to bring all of these ideas to a physical sample, and then there’s the product marketing team (PLM) who essentially lead every project from brief to shop floor. (a lot goes into that process)
FP: How is it to work collectively on projects within the team rather than individually working on a shoe?
Clara: ITS QUITE SIMPLE… You can’t work on a project individually. Every single shoe, every lace, every material overlay is carefully curated by experts so unless you have a degree in design, marketing and possibly engineering it’s impossible. Team work is at the heart of Nike culture
FP: We recently saw the launch of the Air Max 1 LDN & AMS which were instant hits within the sneaker community. Did you work on those projects and can you shed a bit more light into how and why it was those cities chosen?
Clara: I didn’t work on those projects however individuals in my team lead that one. This project is close to my heart as AM1 has always been my shoe of choice. When curating the story, it was no doubt that Amsterdam and London are the Air Max 1 capitals of Europe/The World.
FP: How does being a PLM for the European Market differ from say a PLM in Portland?
Clara: The fundamentals of the role are the same, our biggest difference in EMEA is that we only focus on the consumers in this geography. Where my counterparts in Portland take on the greater task of servicing the globe through their creations. My job is to be as connected and on the pulse as possible with our European consumers.
FP: One example of a product which appeals to a direct market place is the Air Max 95 ‘110’ which we recently launched as exclusive to Footpatrol and the SNKRS app. For me the storytelling within the product itself was great – how does it feel when you get to tell a story through a product?
Clara: The ‘110’ story was a work of art and luckily we have people in our team who actually called max 95’s that very name and grew up with it. So being able to tell a story so genuinely and being able to bring that to life through the products we love is very rewarding.
FP: Within the GEL team do you work closely with the wider marketing departments within Nike to help bring your products and stories to life?
Clara: As a PLM we are responsible for everything that a product needs to land at retail/.com. We work with every function in the business to ensure the narrative of our products is brought to life to our consumers after all its with their insight that these products make it so it’s like giving back to them what they give to us.
FP: Do you have a favourite project that you have worked on as part of Nike?
Clara: TOUGHEST QUESTION EVER – I work a lot with women’s products which has been a passion of mine, being such a fan of sneakers and watching the women evolve in this space has been amazing too see. Without naming specific projects (as most of them will land in June/July) I would say being able to really bring the sneaker culture that women have created through Nike Sneakers has been an amazing experience and continues to be.
If I had to single one out I would say the Berlin 180 that launched in 2018. I have a deep rooted passion for that City and the techno scene so it was really a dream come true for me..
FP: Is there a silhouette in the Nike archive that you haven’t been able to work on but would love to if the chance arises?
Clara: 20 years is a looong time to be working with Nike products, I am an AIR MAX fan to the core… I have had the opportunity to work on all of my favorites and continue to do so and I tell you it never gets old..
FP: Clara thank you for your time and to end the interview off could you let us know what your Top 3 Nike sneakers of all time would be?
Air Max 1 OG (Both colours)
Air Max 180
Air Force 1 (I was born in 82 so always felt connected 😉
Clara: What I’m currently wearing