Do your sneakers fit you perfectly? If not, things may be looking up thanks to the next wave of customization in the performance world.
Precision fit footwear just may be the next frontier now that the subject of "weight" has been fully worked out. The first examples will start with running shoes, as most new technologies usually do (Air Max, weather proofing, engineered outsoles), then it will spread to training, basketball, soccer and football until all categories of performance footwear fit like they were made just for you.
Today's consumers can customize the color, material, and midsole, not to mention finding the perfect shoe for your specific sport, position, or specialty need. No matter how unconventional it may seem, from weightlifting to paddleboarding to barefoot golfing, there’s a shoe for that.
So what is next for this already highly specific market? The answer could be the fit of your shoe, here's why.
In the past, running sneakers focused on the “feel” of the shoe. Does it feel natural, bouncy, flexible, springy, or responsive? Do you want to feel less of the ground or more of it? This is not to say that the fit has been ignored: New Balance is 3-D printing track cleats to athlete's specifications measured via sensors, Skora's unconventional glove-like leather shoes are bringing some style to the barefoot sector, Brooks Running PureProject collection caters to high arched feet with a “Nav Band” and offset lacing for the proper anatomical fit, while Under Amour also embraced the asymmetrical lacing system in this Spring's UA Toxic collection.
For podiatrists, custom orthodics is the oldest medicine in the book. Masterfit's insole expert says "" of the new trend. Is it only a matter of time before the new and the old technologies meet for the best running shoe so far?
The relative newbie to the sneaker game, Under Armour, has further prompted the subject of a customized fit when Performance Footwear Designer Head, Dan Dombrow, took the stage to provide a teaser to the next big sneaker news to come out of Baltimore. In so many words, Dombrow prompted us to consider what a shoe would look like if it were made without the factory process while flashing an image of a sewing machine. In the end we were treated to a sub 3 second teaser image and a nervous giggle from the UA insiders in the crowd.
We'll have to wait and see what's next for the Baltimore brand. Nike's closest attempt to redefining the fit of their shoes came this summer with the release of the FlyKnit, but since the brand is the current king of customization, it's hard to believe the Swoosh would let a trend pass them by.
Until then, do you have a fit concern? Could a customized fit enhance your game? Whether it's a long toe or asymmetrical feet, perhaps your time for the perfect shoe for an affordable price is here.