The minimalism trend may have peaked over four years ago but one key element to the polarizing movement has stuck around, weight. By lightening up running products across the board (shoes, gear, apparel) a faster, more enjoyable experience is a reality because the less you're thinking about what you're wearing, the more you'll focus on your run.
Brands at the Outdoor Retail trade shoe this month in Salt Lake City were all sticking to a similar theme, beefing up sneaker midsoles and outsoles while decrease the weight of the shoe. This may seem like an oxymoron, but thanks to new technologies today's running shoes are more supportive and weigh less. Brooks and Skora Running are using 3-D printing techniques on their uppers to create structural support, ditching the layers of mesh overlays that used to keep shoes together. The result? Faster, more breathable shoes that can offer an extra squeeze thanks to bands, stripes, or spots of TPU.
Designers are also being smarter about the overall design of the shoe, carving out spaces in the last or outsole where extra material isn't needed. This method has been used for years, but thanks to anatomically correct fits brand have used it to redefine to the overall shape of today's footwear.
An expected change this year for performance footwear is watching the pendulum slowly change from the minimalism of the past five years to a sudden focus on maximalism. Brands like Hoka One One and On Running are dramatically different from the Nike Frees and New Balance Minimus that have owned the market for the past few years.
Brooks improved their fourteen generation of the Adrenaline with more EVA underfoot, increasing the amount of contact the foot has with the ground for a smoother ride. The Saucony Cortana 3 does the same, extending the full blown rubber outsole for more time on the ground and a more centered ride.
Runners can expect more performance benefits in a lighter package next year with more options when it comes to zero drop footwear. As New Balance mentioned "zero drop doesn't have to mean zero protection," ensuring the comfort and safety of its wearers. Next year is shaping up to make waves in the performance footwear industry, stay tuned as Sneaker Report previews the latest shoes from your favorite brands.