Sneakers, at the core of their existence, are design-driven. This fact has never been disputed, but now, more than ever, designers are beginning to push the limits of innovation, blending style with practical application. New concepts have begun to unfold at a rapid rate, and all for the betterment of the industry.
2015 has been a landmark year for breakthrough developments in shoe technology, so let’s take a look at, what we think are, five of the most innovative sneakers to hit the market.
The examples below touch on aspects of sustainable design, functionality and advanced aesthetics.
adidas Futurecraft 3D
This year, adidas renewed their commitment to craftsmanship and innovation by rehashing the Futurecraft Series, an initiative that puts emphasis on design across all elements of production. At the heart of the enterprise was Futurecraft 3D, a unique 3D-printed running shoe midsole that can adapt to the contours of one’s footprint through a one-of-a-kind process.
Futurecraft 3D delivers a tailor-made experience, can be altered to accommodate a variety of needs, and sets up any athlete to perform at their best.
Nike Air MAG
The Nike Air MAG from Back to the Future has pioneered the way for the implementation of cutting-edge technologies. Since their film appearance, they’ve stirred up conversation as to whether or not their most endearing feature, the power laces, could be fabricated for real life.
Nike designers were ceaseless in their pursuit to sidestep traditional lacing methods and managed to successfully recreate the shoe’s self-lacing system, putting it into effect across a multitude of disciplines.
LeBron Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE
Sometimes, innovation can be used to streamline care for individuals. Such was the case with the LeBron Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE. The idea for the shoe, designed by Tinker Hatfield, was first envisaged when Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first employee, reached out after suffering a stroke. It left him with mobility issues, and simple tasks became seemingly more difficult to carry out.
Thus, Hatfield created FLYEASE, a wrap-around zipper that opens at the heel, allowing wearers to slip a shoe equipped with the technology on and off with ease. Eventhough a LeBron James signature model was used to first evaluate its function, FLYEASE has widespread relevance beyond the athletic realm.
Auto-lacing technology is currently being undertaken by a range of brands, but its many intricacies still need to be configured properly before hitting mass market. PUMA may be closest to perfecting the mechanics behind it, having developed a prototype with automated functionality.
Called AUTODISC, a unique cable system increasingly hugs the foot as a servo motor winds into place. It’s a system that isn’t perfect yet, but as more research is embarked upon, it’s thought that the AUTODISCS’s kinks might eventually be ironed out. Take a closer look here.
Nike Free Trainer 1.0
For Nike, boundaries don’t exist. The Nike Free Trainer 1.0 defies everything we know about athletic footwear. It’s a gym shoe that doesn’t reconcile with how we perceive traditional silhouettes to look or feel like. It’s radical in its appearance and revolutionary in its construction.
A rubber outsole encompasses the lower half of the shoe, which helps to provide additional traction. As working out becomes less of a pastime and more of a sport, so too has Nike technology evolved to keep up with the times.