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The Unbelievable Testing Laboratory has created Microfiber shoes weighing in at less than 130g. Support our limited production project. Read more

Las Vegas, NV Footwear
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on July 2, 2014.

The Unbelievable Testing Laboratory has created Microfiber shoes weighing in at less than 130g. Support our limited production project.

Las Vegas, NV Footwear
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About this project

THE UT.LAB creates awesome shoes out of cutting edge materials, using advanced design processes, and ultra lean production methods.

Nearly a year ago we launched our very first design on Kickstarter, THE LIGHT WING TRAINER: Pencil. It was during our testing and manufacturing runs that we realized that our "ultra lean" production was in need of improvement.

So, naturally, we flipped the design process on it's head, and Token Hu, our co-founder, set out on a mission to create a manufacturing led designed shoe.

After almost 12 months of factory re-tooling, prototyping, and street testing, THE NINJA was born and we are releasing it in 4 colorways.

With resources dedicated to our original LIGHT WING series, THE NINJA is still in the late stage of development.

1. Create a full set of of injection molds for the new EVA foam rubber outsoles

2. Standardize our 3D molds to unify our model sizing

3. Pre-purchase all materials in bulk and reserve factory time and tooling for THE NINJA production

The involvement of the entire team throughout the design process, from factory floor workers, to quality control managers, to factory managers, to our entire design team made the creation of THE NINJA an incredible experience.

THE NINJA project was the first time we implemented (from end-to-end) THE UT.LAB scientific approach to footwear design where we:

1. Identify a Problem, 2. Develop a Challenge, then use 3. Rapid Prototyping and small batch testing, followed by a 4. Demand-driven go-to-market strategy.

 

1. An incredibly simplified manufacturing process 

2. Re-imagined and re-usable packaging 

3. A new standard in comfort, lightweight, and minimalist design in casual shoes

 

Throughout this prototyping period we studied everything from the number of stitches, to patterns cut, molds set, adhesives used, and materials required.

We started with TYVEK®, the material we had become so accustom to using, but as we played with it we decided we wanted to try our hand with new materials.

We moved on to the most commonly used material in footwear, PU. Look no further than your closet, and you will find shoe after shoe made of PU. We found it to be too bulky and heavy, while simultaneously absorbing too much foot heat and moisture.

It was MICROFIBER that gave us the perfect balance as a material we could do so much with, without having to rely on other components to create form and provide comfort, reduce total component structure, and speed up manufacturing time without sacrificing quality.

 

 

At 1/20th the diameter of a strand of silk, microfiber is durable while being super comfortable and soft to touch.

Technically speaking 'microfiber' is a general term used for many of the synthetic materials born in the late 1950's. The discovery and commercial experimentation with Microfiber began with TORAY and DUPONT. In fact TYVEK®, the fundamental material to our LIGHT WING series, is classified as a microfiber.

The Microfiber we have chosen for THE NINJA is a woven flash-spun terylene with non-split fibers.

Where most of the Microfibers you are accustomed to are designed to be soft and absorb water, this Microfiber is a bit different.

We are using a Microfiber that repels water (non-split fiber), is durable and strong (flash-spun), soft to the touch (a woven microfiber), and sustainable (terylene).

 

No. This time around we have a much better understanding of our factory's capabilities. We feel comfortable not having to limit our production on this run of THE NINJA

THE NINJA has been designed for intelligent factory production, and we're excited to have our Kickstarter backers be a part of this process. In fact we will allow backers (after the project closes) to choose from one of 4 colorways.

 

 

Just like our first go-around on Kickstarter, all backers we will be getting a uniquely numbered shoe. 

The first 9 backers will have their assigned backer number #0001-#0009. ALL OTHERS will be randomly assigned (we learned the first time the difficulty in assigning hundreds of numbers).

 

NINJA APPRENTICES - $55  

At this backer level you are getting one pair of THE NINJAS, and you're helping us make this project a reality. Just like all the early backers, your NINJA will have a Limited Kickstarter Serial Number. [One pair of NINJAs in any color and size]

(Suggested Retail: $58). (Free US Shipping)*(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

NINJA DUO PACK - $90 

Buy two pairs and save $26. Get two pairs of NINJAS in any color and size combination. Just like all the early backers, your NINJA will have a Limited Kickstarter Serial Number.

(Suggested Retail: $116). (Free US Shipping)*(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

 

MASTER NINJA - $88 - [ALL GONE] You're awesome! Be the first person to back us here and get our #1 shoe (MSRP: Priceless).You'll always be able to say that you were our first customer of THE UT.LAB NINJA. Your shoe will have a customized 0001-K embroidery on the heel. No other NINJA will have this customization. [One pair of NINJAs in any color and size]

(Free US and International Shipping)

8 FLYING NINJAS - $58 - [ALL GONE] Maybe you weren't quick enough to get #1, but don't miss out on numbers 2-9 (MSRP: Slightly less than Priceless). Be the only people in the world to have a single digit UT.LAB NINJA. [One pair of NINJAs in any color and size]

(Free US Shipping)*(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

NINJA MAVENS - $38 - [ALL GONE] Don't drag your feet for too long (Backers 10-100), you'll be saving $20 off our future retail price, and you'll get the Limited Kickstarter Serial Number. [One pair of NINJAs in any color and size]

(Suggested Retail: $58). (Free US Shipping)*(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

NINJA CLAN- $48 - [ALL GONE] Despite being a bit slow, we have an awesome deal for you, you're still going to get a $10 discount off of future retail price, and you'll get the Limited Kickstarter Serial Number. (Backers 101-499). [One pair of NINJAs in any color and size]

(Suggested Retail: $58). (Free US Shipping)*(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every backer will receive their NINJAS packaged in an all-new re-usable UT.LAB TYVEK shoe-tote.

We designed this bag for international courier delivery in mind, as we attempt to reduce our impact on domestic and global shipping, while simultaneously creating a tote-bag that you will love to carry around with you to the gym, to the office, or on your next trip.

The Velvet TYVEK® Tote makes the perfect travel companion when you're on the go. You can chuck an extra pair of THE NINJAS in your briefcase and not worry about scuffing up you laptop.

Or you can go tote-less, and just chuck them in with THE NINJA Wrap. 

Or for slightly longer trips THE NINJA makes the perfect shoe to throw in your carry-on.

 

 And the ultimate shoe to make airport security checkpoints a breeze.

 

AT CHECKOUT, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PROVIDE YOUR SIZE. 

ALL BACKERS WILL RECEIVE A MESSAGE FROM US TO REQUEST YOUR SHOE SIZE AT THE BEGINNING OF JULY AFTER THE PROJECT CLOSES.

SEE SUPPORTED SIZES BELOW:

THE NINJA IS A UNISEX DESIGN.

US Men's Size 5-15 || US Women's Size 6-16 || EURO 37-48

*PLEASE NOTE:

Only FULL SIZES will be available.

NO half-sizes will be made for THE NINJA.

Getting the right fit in shoes is always a bit tricky. But, we have spent the last year working with customers to better understand general sizing. It will never be perfect, but we feel confident that you should get the right fit. The width of the shoe is between a D/E, so those with slightly wider feet, shouldn’t worry about our sizing. On top of that, Microfiber is quite flexible and offers a forgiving and soft flexibility. Because we are not producing half sizes, then we suggest that you order the next half size up (i.e. if you're a 9.5, you'll want to order a 10).

 

We are constantly exploring new materials and the application of those materials in footwear. Obviously there are many materials and design elements that go into our shoes, but let's focus on three: Microfiber, EVA Foam Rubber, and the Poliyou Insole.

The combination of these three material choices has allowed us to perfect our weight to strength to minimalism ratio. The shoes are just impossibly light and impossibly minimal, weighing in at less than 130g per shoe (Men's size US 11), and using less than 8 major components.

The Microfiber in THE NINJA is the perfect solution for our minimal design concept. It's strength has allowed us to use it as the sole material to wrap around the manufacturing last, while simultaneously keeping the minimalist silhouette form and providing a high level of everyday endurance.

We are constantly being asked if THE NINJA outer will soak up water like a "shami", the answer is No. THE NINJA Microfiber is a non-split terylene. It's a synthetic designed to repel water while maintaing an incredibly soft texture.

Our first Kickstarter allowed us to launch our EVA foam rubber outsole. And for this time around we have taken the durability, flexibility, and street tests from the first Kickstarter to perfect our newest EVA "cupped outsole. 

The cupped structure has allowed us to reduce the weight and maintain the identical strength and comfort of the LIGHT WING TRAINER outsole.

 

Sometimes there is no need to re-invent the wheel. We are sticking with our POLIYOU insole. We have made some minor modifications for the fit and feel inside THE NINJA.

Combined with the EVA foam rubber outsole, and utlra-minimal design of the shoe, you get a low profile shoe that gives you similar cushion to what you feel in a more advanced cross-trainer athletic shoe.

POLIYOU has three core features: it's got some crazy ventilation ability, it absorbs moisture quite nicely, and helps to stave off bacteria growth.

1. We create footwear that is impossibly light

2. We advance science through every aspect of our design, material choice, and business model. 

3. We are empowering tomorrow's leaders by cooperating with leading education organizations to to make science cool.

 

We think science is cool, and it is the thread that ties every element of our company, our culture, and our brand together. We create awesome shoes so we can change the world.

We believe changing the world starts with empowering tomorrow’s leaders with an awesome education and access to rock star educators. You can find out how we are working with Teach for America this school year by clicking here.

Science is our passion, and it is the fundamental element that drives the hundreds of laboratory experiments that take place on every aspect of footwear design we produce before it hits the market.

We are an interesting mix of industrial designers, graphic artists, ceramic artists, logistics specialists, and serial entrepreneurs. You can visit our site and learn more about us here, but in a nutshell the core team is six people who have come together by a random connection over the past two years, who each as individuals, really wanted to change the world around them.

Unbelievable Testing Laboratory is now our vehicle to do awesome things.

Token Hu, founder and head designer is a native Chinese with years of experience at frog design and Microsoft. Shaun Nath, originally from Southern California, is a brand expert and logistics specialist who was introduced to the project by Joseph Constanty, a native of Philly, and the ever persistent entrepreneur in China. Wyatt Bai and Kong Kong are our graphic whiz-kids behind any media we produce. And of course Jacinta Huang a ceramicist and dancer by training has become our go-to "fixer". We also have to give a shout out to two amazing interns Jono Harley and Kelly Talento who played a big part in making this campaign happen.

For the past two and one-half years we have been working closely with our factories to better understand the entire manufacturing process. THE NINJA is a product born from the manufacturing floor, and a product we feel very comfortable with at this stage working with our factory. We have simplified the component make-up of the shoe so to minimize the manufacturing impact.

The shoes you see in the video are real prototypes that we have been lab and street testing for the past ten months. Having worked closely with our factories, their workers, and the owners throughout this entire design process, we feel comfortable in fulfilling an order of any size up to 10,000 units and fulfill at the beginning of September.

 

Risks and challenges

RISKS and CHALLENGES

So each of these final tests takes time, materials and human resources. We will be using the funds raised on Kickstarter to expedite this process, so that your shoes will be in your hands by August.

Once the project closes, we will be able to put together our material orders, and prep the factory immediately thereafter. That means we should be shipping from China direct to anywhere in the world by September 1, and your shoes should be in your hands ten days later. With your support, we can get these impossibly light shoes on your feet.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    37 backers

    NINJA ENTHUSIAST - Thank you for your support, every dollar makes a difference in helping us realize our dream to bring the next impossibly light shoe to the world.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $38 or more

    90 backers All gone!

    NINJA MAVEN -- Don't drag your feet for too long (Backers 10-100), you'll be saving $20 off our future retail price, and you'll get the Limited Kickstarter Serial Number.

    [One pair of THE NINJA in any color and size]

    *(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $48 or more

    400 backers All gone!

    NINJA CLAN - Despite being a bit slower than our Mavens, we have an awesome deal for you, you're still getting a $10 discount off our retail price, and you'll get the Limited Kickstarter Serial Number. (Backers 101-499). [One pair of THE NINJA in any color and size] *(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $55 or more

    888 backers

    NINJA APPRENTICE - You are helping us make this project a reality, and you'll be getting your NINJAS long before they hit the market. And the bonus is you get free shipping for US customers. And You'll get the Limited Kickstarter Serial Number. [One pair of NINJAs in any color and size] *(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $68 or more

    8 backers All gone!

    8 FLYING NINJAS - Maybe you weren't quick enough to get #1, but don't miss out on numbers 2-9 (MSRP: Slightly less than Priceless). Be the only people in the world to have a single digit UT.LAB NINJA. [One pair of THE NINJA in any color and size] *(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $88 or more

    1 backer All gone!

    MASTER NINJA -You're awesome! Be the first person to back us here and get our #1 shoe (MSRP: Priceless).You'll always be able to say that you were our first customer of THE NINJA. Your shoe will have a customized 0001-K embroidery on the heel. No other NINJA will have this customization. [One pair of THE NINJA in any color and size]
    (Free US and Free International Shipping)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $90 or more

    757 backers

    NINJA DUO PACK - $90 - Buy two pairs and save $26. Get two pairs of NINJAS in any color and size combination.And You'll get the Limited Kickstarter Serial Number. [Two pairs of THE NINJA in any color and size] *(Final International Shipping Fees to be calculated in July 2014)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)