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Sneaker History: Technologies that shape an eventful culture

October 26, 2020 11:37 AM
Sneaker History: Technologies that shape an eventful culture

Dear Community, welcome to the next part of our Sneaker History series, which will be all about the technologies in the sole of the shoes. If you haven't followed our series so far, but want to make up for it, here are the links to the previous blog posts:

From sports shoe to cult shoe - Sneaker History Part 1

The beginning of an era! Sneaker History Part 2

A rebellion becomes a culture - Sneaker History Part 3

So in history we have already arrived at the present time, where sneakers are a real culture. Sneakers are omnipresent today! In no profession, at no age and for no outfit should the kickz we love so much be missing. The sneaker scene is a special community and loving sneakers is a lifestyle! But what has influenced the development over the years besides the style are the soles of the sneakers.

adidas Ultraboost
Unsplash

Technologies that move the world:

Those who have followed our series so far know that the beginnings of sneakers came with a rubber sole, because it was quieter than the leather soles commonly used up to this point and you could sneak. So the first innovation of our sneaker sole technology was born. And today? There are self-lacing shoes, sports shoes that are proven to make you faster, shoes that automatically adapt to the foot, sustainable materials and much more! But what happened in between?

That is what we want to see today! But don't worry dear community: I will spare you the highly technical and partly chemical properties, because this is definitely going too far. Nevertheless, I have to say that the history of the sole technology of our sneakers has some interesting facts. So, enough of the long preface: Lets GO!

Before we briefly introduce you to the most important and, above all, still important technologies, let's take a look at the beginning. We already know that the first rubber soles in sneakers not only made the steps quieter, but also made them a little more comfortable. The soft rubber could already offer a certain comfort and some cushioning. Since sneakers, as we already know, have their origins in the world of sports, the focus in production and design was on dynamism, comfort and optimal conditions for sporting activities. As we know today, all of this is also practical for a comfortable, active and dynamic everyday life.

Innovation, technology, cushioning - shoes can be so complicated

The groundbreaking developments and inventions came over the years with the keywords: EVA and TPU. Attention, dear community, now it will unfortunately be a bit technical - but it's worth it:

We still know EVA soles today, even if perhaps not consciously. But EVA soles are built into most sneakers and sports shoes. EVA is the abbreviation for ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer. Roughly described, it is a plastic that is temperature resistant, tough and extremely durable. EVA is also characterised by the fact that it is particularly cushioning and at the same time lighter and more flexible than rubber! You already notice it, we know and appreciate all these properties in our sneakers!

In recent years, the properties and chemical compositions of EVA have made it possible for sneaker and sports shoe manufacturers to produce various modifications and versions and to manufacture soles that meet a wide range of needs and focus on different areas. TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) also plays a role here. Parts made of this material are often used as support in the sole or on the upper. In its properties, this plastic is also flexible, robust, durable and not temperature-sensitive.

Today we often hear about various FOAM soles. The meaning of foam is a synthetic material composed in various ways, which promises to walk as if on clouds.

How Air, Boost and Foam carry us through the world

I would now like to briefly present to you 3 technologies that play an important role today. But first of all, I would like to say that other brands have also developed great technologies that are revolutionizing the sneaker world. New Balance with their ABZORB technology, Vans with their waffle sole and and and. But today we are especially interested in the famous Nike Air cushioning, the adidas Ultraboost technology and the ASICS GEL sole.

Nike Air: In 1978, the now famous Air technology was first used in a sneaker. The idea behind it, a cushioning made of compressed air in a robust but also flexible pocket for optimal flexibility and suspension. The revolutionary idea of adding air to a sneaker came from former NASA engineer Frank Rudy. The Air Tailwind was then the first sneaker with this technology and was released in 1978. A few years later, with the birth of the Air Max 1, the cushioning was no longer just noticeable but also visible - that's how Nike puts it. The visible Air Unit is the visible Air Unit which still today inspires the sneaker world in various forms.

The adidas Ultraboost technology is only available since 2013. Check out Josy's blog for all the info. The Ultraboost technology was developed by the adidas team together with the chemical company BASF. The aim was to create a soft sole that was also editorially appealing. With every single step, energy should be absorbed and at the same time released - in short - the perfect cushioning for a running shoe. Small thermoplastic polyurethane particles were processed into a kind of foam. Most of us know from our own experience what this looks like and how great it feels!

Another innovation from adidas is the 4D technology, which is designed using a 3D printer. Josy has also explained the whole thing to you in detail.

The ASICS GEL technology was first used in a shoe in 1986. As we know today, it revolutionised the world of sports at that time and is still very popular among athletes and also in leisure time. Because sneakers with this sole are also celebrated by many. At that time, ASICS launched the first shoe on the market that used silicone as a cushioning material. The so-called αGEL (Alpha Gel) was supposed to cushion the feet as best as possible on impact and as we know today, this has also been achieved.

And the Upper?

The technologies on the upper of our sneakers have also evolved and moved with the times. Leather, fabric and also canvas were of course already known in the early days and until today these materials and numerous variations of them dominate the sneaker world. In the course of time, nylon and the now well-known knit material, which offers sock-like comfort, were added. Mesh, of course we know that too! Breathable, super comfortable and flexible - since the 70s we have been able to enjoy this material as well.

Nowadays, as with our sole technologies, new techniques and materials are naturally also used in the upper material in parts, which are sustainable, partly recycled and environmentally friendly or even vegan. And we are curious to see where the journey of sneaker technologies still leads!

That was our Sneaker History article about the technologies in the scene and their development. If you are interested in many more facts from the Sneaker History, I can only recommend our series again!

Here you can check out all the parts!

In our Sneaker News you will also regularly find all the news from the world of sneakers and everything that is important to us today.

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