New production methods are paving the way for a whole new generation of advanced sneakers that are not only more comfortable than ever: they're also helping to save the planet.
APL, or Athletic Propulsion Labs, was founded in Los Angeles by identical twins Adam and Ryan Goldston who wanted to enable athletes to maximise their potential through what they call the “intersection of technology, performance and fashion”. In fact their Concept 1 basketball sneakers were so good, and so technologically advanced (they featured forefoot compression springs to give players a vertical boost) that the NBA banned them for giving players “an unfair advantage”. Cutting-edge technology in their Blade line of sneakers is called “3-D stretch knitting”, which dynamically moves with one’s foot. If you flex your big toe, the knitting stretches but stays tight everywhere else.
Adidas Futurecraft 3D
The German footwear company is about to bring their concept shoe, Futurecraft 3D, to the market place. The shoe, for sale later this year, features a 3D printed midsole, is completely customizable and will be able to be made inside any Adidas store on spec. Adidas says each trainer will exactly match the wearer’s footprint, including “the exact grooves, instep and contours”. As part of its sustainability drive Adidas, alongside the organisation Parley for the Oceans, has introduced an upper made from recycled ocean plastic and a midsole – also 3D printed – using recycled polyamide. Saving the planet, one shoe at a time.
The company started in France five years ago with the lofty goal of addressing sustainability in the fashion and footwear world. Veja started working with Amazonian rubber tappers who live in the forests of Brazil, harvesting from the trees. The rubber is then moulded to the soles of Veja trainers using a new technology called FDL (Folha Desfumada Liquida – Liquid Smoked Sheet) that allows the rubber tappers to transform latex into rubber sheets without any industrial intermediary processes. The sheets of rubber are then directly sent to the factory and shaped into soles for the sneakers. The uppers and insole are made from recycled cotton.