“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” said Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger. A statement that rings undoubtedly true when thinking about the impact and success of adidas Running’s game-changing BOOST sole.
When the BOOST sole first launched, it was assuredly ahead of the curve and equally timely. It hit stores just before the wellness trend took off, running crews became cool, and athleisure had a name. The Energy BOOST, and UltraBOOST in particular, were key to getting such trends off the ground and propelling the running, jumping, lunging, and lifting enthusiasts now taking over our social media feeds.
The groundbreaking impact of BOOST extends far beyond adidas Running. BOOST helped re-establish the entire adidas brand but, more importantly, its influence caused a shift in the fitness, fashion, sneaker, and lifestyle markets. “BOOST was nothing short of a revolution in comfort, which started with performance and trickled down to the everyman,” explains Highsnobiety’s Sneaker Editor, Chris Danforth. “The UltraBOOST flipped the footwear world upside down, shifting the criteria for a “good” sneaker. I don’t think anyone at adidas saw this coming.”
As the tech turns five, we put together a timeline of 14 momentous points in the short but substantial history of adidas BOOST. Along the way, it’s broken records, kick-started fashion trends, and caused people to rethink sneaker design.
adidas changed the game on February 13, 2013, when it introduced BOOST technology and the Energy BOOST for the first time at a global media event in New York.
BOOST was created with the largest chemical producer in the world, BASF. The revolutionary cushioning material utilized thousands of little energy capsules for a midsole that efficiently stored and unleashed energy with every step, giving it the highest energy return in the running industry.
To realize its potential, this material innovation needed an equally impressive footwear design; the Energy BOOST was just what the doctor ordered. Initially a performance shoe, it went on to have substantial impact in both the running and lifestyle markets, and it was elemental in kick-starting the athleisure trend that bridged the gap between performance and fashion clothing.
In September 2014, adidas backed up its claims around BOOST when the technology supported Kenyan long-distance runner Dennis Kimetto in winning the Berlin marathon and setting a new world record marathon time of 2:02:57. Kimetto and his adizero Adios BOOST smashed the previous record by 26 seconds and BOOST’s energy return system proved its worth as a legitimate running technology.
Oh, and BOOST carried second place men’s finisher Emmanuel Muthai and the top two female finishers Tirfi Tsegaye and Fayse Tadese across the line in Berlin that day as well.
Energy BOOST might have come first and Pure BOOST might have been the first to extend the material throughout the entire midsole, but it was the UltraBOOST that would truly cause a commotion. Coined “The Best Running Shoe Ever,” the UltraBOOST was announced on January 22, 2015, and launched February 11.
The original black and purple colorway took the energy revolution to a new frontier, combining a BOOST midsole with a Primeknit upper. The shoe was lauded by a team of elite athletes including Yohan Blake, David Villa, and Sammy Watkins. Once again, adidas bridged the gap between performance and style and the UltraBOOST was just as likely to be spotted at a fashion event as it was a running one.
February 18, 2015:
The UltraBOOST Collective Designs the First UltraBOOST Collaborations
Stella McCartney brought to the table a women’s number in Black, Smoked Pink, and Eggshell while Assche applied a diamond print to the Primeknit upper. kolor offered two colorways, one white and lime green, the other grey, orange, navy, and green. Despite their simplicity, Schonberger and Carnes’ monochrome UltraBOOSTs were arguably the most important. While their black and white colorway was undeniably a hit, it was the Triple White that would sell out almost instantly following one man’s performance at the Billboard Music Awards…
Kanye West’s appearance at the Billboard Music Awards in 2015 caused controversy after a performance West called “grossly over-censored,” and one in which the artist was barely even visible on stage. Despite the wall of fog and sparks that covered West for most of his time on stage, sneakerheads didn’t miss the Triple White UltraBOOSTs on his feet. Just like the week before when West had worn the all-white Energy Boost ESM for a halftime performance at the Bulls vs Cavaliers game, the Triple Whites—which were at that time available for pre-order—quickly became unavailable.
West, once again, proved his influence on product sales and BOOST was officially as much a fashion item as it was a running one.
Shortly after announcing their partnership at the Parley Talks session and launch event “Oceans. Climate. Life.” at the United Nations headquarters in New York, adidas and Parley for the Oceans unveiled their combined sustainable design efforts as part of the High-Level Meeting on Climate Change convened by the President of the General Assembly at the close of June in 2015.
As part of Parley’s Ocean Plastic Program aimed at ending plastic pollution in the oceans, adidas created a shoe upper made entirely of yarns and filaments. Titled as ‘Parley Ocean Plastic’, these yarns were weaved from upcycled waste, intercepted before it reached the ocean from beaches and coastal communities and from illegal deep-sea gillnets. adidas paired this groundbreaking concept with BOOST technology—and would continue to do so with future Parley collaborations—giving further credence to the tech as the industry-leading midsole material.
Before releasing three Uncaged silhouettes in June 2016, adidas partnered with lifestyle publication HYPEBEAST in December 2015 and sneaker retailer Solebox in March 2016 on the first versions of the UltraBOOST with the cage removed from the upper. The idea was inspired by the handy work of sneakerheads who’d taken to cutting the cage away from the sneaker themselves. The HYPEBEAST design featured an NFC chip in the tongue that gave access to a secret microsite.
The first non-collaborative UltraBOOST Uncaged collection became adidas’ fastest-selling performance shoe ever (in America and at the time) with more than 11,000 pairs purchased within the first hour of availability, all stock was completely sold out within a day.
It’s hard to believe that it took this long for the Three Stripes to murder-out the overwhelmingly successful UltraBOOST silhouette. The “Triple Black” was the first time the BOOST sole officially appeared in any color other than white—and I say “officially” because once again hardcore fans had already been taking markers and paint to the white midsoles, DIY style.
The colorway was coveted long before its November/December release dates and was consequently difficult to pick up immediately after. It was the first performance product ever to be released via adidas’ Confirmed app and New York City residents could enter an unsanctioned running race in Lower East Side via a telephone number in the hope of winning one of six pairs.
The “Triple Black” might have began to surface in March but the first colored BOOST soles to drop in stores appeared on the “Triple Red,” “Black,” and “All-White” UltraBOOST Uncaged before the “Triple Black” released officially.
In another first, Highsnobiety partnered with adidas on the first UltraBOOST to receive a leather cage in an understated lavender grey. The leather cage, leather insole, soft taupe knitted upper, and Highsnobiety branding elevated the streetwear favorite from its athletic roots like never before.
The adidas Futurecraft M.F.G (Made for Germany) was the first product to come out of the brand’s state-of-the-art SPEEDFACTORY facility in Germany. Designed to meet the precise needs of a runner’s foot and powered by the BOOST energy return system, the Futurecraft M.F.G. represents the future of running shoes.
Futurecraft—adidas’s 3D-printed footwear technology announced in October 2015—will one day allow customers to walk into a store, have their gait tested, and walk out with a pair of personalized running shoes. The SPEEDFACTORYs in Ansbach, Germany, and Atlanta, Georgia are primarily operated by machines that allow adidas to react faster to consumer needs. They are the first step towards creating shoes for consumers, with consumers, in just a moment’s notice.
February 24, 2017:
Record-Breaking adizero Successor Announced
Two-and-a-half years after Dennis Kimetto set a new world record marathon time in the adizero Adios BOOST, adidas revealed its successor: the adidas adizero Sub2. The week it was announced, Wilson Kipsang wore the shoe across the finish line at the Tokyo Marathon, setting a marathon time record in Japan.
Featuring Boost Light—the brand’s lightest ever foam—the Sub2 marked the beginning of adidas’ ambitious plans to set further records and help athletes break new ground in long-distance running.
With BOOST turning five, adidas released the BOOST Anniversary Pack featuring an update on the original Energy BOOST, a new redesigned Energy BOOST fresh for 2018 and a limited edition UltraBOOST. Each pair in the BOOST Anniversary Pack used the latest BOOST technology, offering more energy return than ever before, and an updated torsion system that moves with the foot for a smoother landing and midfoot support. The original black and yellow Energy BOOST colorway was used across the pack.
The updated UltraBOOST and UltraBOOST X consolidate all the best features of previous UltraBOOST models. These new adidas designs have been created to push the boundaries of athletic performance and provide the ultimate running experience.
The new UltraBOOST features ventilation holes, a new PrimeKnit composition with reduced stretch, and a high-tech Fit Counter enabling free achilles movement. The UltraBOOST X, made for women, utilises learnings from the UltraBOOST Uncaged and the adizero Sub2. The cage and support features are on the inside for a sleeker aesthetic, it has an Adaptive Arch which allows the PrimeKnit Upper to mould to the foot, and a 3D Sculpted Heel Counter. Both silhouettes are, of course, powered by BOOST soles.