JACK HART

THEY’RE THE MOST IM­POR­TANT PIECE OF KIT YOU’LL BUY, BUT WHAT’S THE STORY BE­HIND THEM?

Trail Running (UK) - - Start Line - Words Jack Hart

Jack dis­cov­ers shoes have moved on a lot since the days of leather pumps,

I nspired by the re­cent launch of Inov-8’s ex­cit­ing use of graphene in its trail run­ning shoes, we thought it timely to take a look at just how far footwear has come in a rel­a­tively short space of time.

The one-atom-thick layer of graphite used by Inov-8 is close to in­de­sc­tructable and a far cry from the can­vas and leather pumps of yes­ter­year. So how did so much change so quickly? And have the shoes them­selves re­ally im­proved that much?

In 1962, a 20-some­thing by the name of Phil Knight bor­rowed $50 from his father to fund a start-up busi­ness im­port­ing ath­letic shoes from Japan. In Jan­uary this year, an 80-year-old Phil Knight was ranked by Forbes as the 28th rich­est per­son on Earth – and Nike, the brand he founded has gone on to not only rev­o­lu­tionise the de­sign of run­ning shoes but dom­i­nate and fun­da­men­tally in­flu­ence the shape of global sport. It’s a stark les­son for any­one doubt­ing the power of mar­ket­ing.

The in­domitable rise of Nike par­al­lels the de­vel­op­ment of mod­ern run­ning shoes be­cause, well, they pretty much sin­gle-hand­edly de­signed them. Any­one who’s read Christo­pher McDougall’s world-fa­mous book Born to Run – or Knight’s own mem­oirs Shoe Dog – will re­call that his part­ner-in­de­sign was his old run­ning coach, Bill Bow­er­man, and that it was Bow­er­man who in­fa­mously poured rub­ber into his waf­fle iron to de­velop a cush­ioned sole. Nike acolytes will preach that be­fore then, run­ning shoes con­sisted of lit­tle more than a thin leather sole. In re­al­ity, run­ning shoes had been steadily de­vel­op­ing through­out the pre and post-war pe­ri­ods in both the east and west – with Asics be­ing founded in 1949 in Japan and Adi­das be­gin­ning even ear­lier in 1920, founded by Adolf Dassler. It was Nike, though, who truly pi­o­neered and mar­keted the mod­ern run­ning shoe from the 1960s on­wards.

Early in­no­va­tors

Since the 1960s, run­ning shoes – both on and of­froad – have de­vel­oped at a rapid pace, along­side a bur­geon­ing sports mar­ket and a ris­ing tide of recre­ational run­ners. Th­ese days, every brand has their own patented tech­nol­ogy backed by

Ca­tion here please gfgg Rohu ivi­dem qu ff­gyg iatem gghgh­golore, ex From 1966 to 1981: shoes (and fash­ion) changed dra­mat­i­cally in just a 15-year pe­riod

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.