As much as we think of technology as just gadgets or apps, there are many other areas where innovation takes place. And, over the past decade, one of the best examples of where tech has flourished is the footwear industry. From self-lacing tech to cushioning systems made from tiny foam particles, brands like Nike, Adidas and others have gone all out trying to change what footwear design means.
Since 2010, the sneaker space simply hasn't been the same. What were once pipe dreams — like power laces or sustainable shoes — are here, and they're now paving the way for what people will be wearing on their feet in the future.
In 2012, Adidas introduced Boost, a material made out of expanded Thermoplastic Polyurethane (eTPU) particles that formed “closed cells around tiny pockets of air.” The result was a cushioning system that make shoes feel as if you're walking or running with a soft pillow under your feet.
This technology was actually developed by a German chemical company called Badische Anilin & Soda-Fabrik (BASF), but it was licensed to Adidas, which then created the product that would become known as Boost.
The “benefit” for all athletes that Parker spoke of came with the Adapt BB in 2019, Nike's first self-lacing basketball sneaker. Unlike the Nike Mag, the Adapt BB was available to the masses for $350, though it sold out instantly when it launched in January of this year.
Nike also took its auto-lacing tech further, as it allowed the shoes to be controlled with a smartphone app. The company has since brought Adapt Fit, as it calls its technology, to lifestyle sneakers like the Huarache.
As we look to the future of footwear, sustainability efforts from brands are going to be vital. Because there are simply too many wasted materials in fashion.
Adidas has already shown what it can do with the Adidas X Parley Ultraboost, a sneaker made entirely out of recycled ocean waste, which arrived in 2016.
As part of this sustainability push, Kanye West (member of the Adidas family) recently revealed he's working on a pair of clogs partially made from algae. The Croc-like footwear is expected to be available later in 2020 — not a bad way to kick off the next decade.
“We want everything that we do to be more thoughtful about the precious resources that we have, because we're fighting for keeping the playgrounds here, and the clean air and the space to play, and being able to participate in sports in a warming environment.”
Nike's chief design officer, John Hoke, told Input in a February interview.