But Why? : Footwear Updates

How many times have you put on a new shoe, or the update to a shoe you love, and are shocked by what it has become?

As the season changes, new styles of footwear and apparel are being released. These updates often occur entering the fall and spring seasons. Nearly every running shoe you can buy now is different than it was a year ago.

Shoes are unique in the sense that we wear them every day. We can wear long sleeves or short sleeves, shorts or pants, gloves or no gloves, but our shoes – and our running shoes in particular – have little variation. For this reason, how a shoe performs or performs on our foot is very important. Shoe manufacter are aware of this reality, and for this reason, they devote a lot of time and resrouces to updating their lineup.

Shoes must be updated (relatively) frequently to be considered worthy. Shoe are given awards by major publications such as Runner’s World, so shoe brands must constantly release new shoes/technologies. to be named “Best Debut” or “Best Value”.

As runners, updates can often be viewed in three categories:

  1. True updates  +
  2. Screw ups –
  3. Philosophicial changes  <->

 

  • True updates are logical. Better fit, feel, comfort, and performence are all characteristics which ideally embody all updates. A 1964 Chevy is a nice car, it pales in nearly all aspects when compared with modern cars. The applies to shoes, even from 2 years ago. Similarly, more durable rubber is obviously a plus +
  • Screw ups are self explanatory. Poor design, manufacturing, and marketing all contribute to how a shoe is received by customers. Sometime the best idea becomes a terrible decision. We all have been spurned by the shoe we have. But there is hope! Representatives of shoe companies are always listening for customer feedback.
  • Philosophical change is perhaps the chief motivator of change at the moment. Shoes are objectively comfortable; it is hard to complain about a modern shoe. Modern fit, cushioning, and durability are all superlative….What then sets Mizuno apart from Saucony apart from New Balance?

Inevitably, an unique take on something – in essence a shift in core beliefs – drives innovations. Different ideas are not good or bad, in themselves, but just different.

An example in this can be seen in the new Brooks Adrenaline 14. The driving belief –  encouraging full contact between the foot and the ground along the entire foot strike – has led to Brooks integrating more outsole material into the shoe….This is not to say it is a good choice or a bad choice, but it is different.

In conclusion, change is inevitable. Every great idea was only a thought at some point. The same can be said about shoes and clothing. The greatest, most comfortable, plushest cushioning that you’ve ever wear will never get a chance to be on your foot if a shoe maker is unwilling to try it out. Hundred of wear testers are also involved in expressing their views also about new change. Don’t be put off forever by one bad experience with a shoe, it may be entirely different a year from now!

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