Material Matters: The Best Tech of 2022 (So Far)
Sneaker technology arguably now takes smaller considered steps towards innovation instead of the massive, industry-changing moves from decades prior. The moves previously made have set the wheels into motion, and brands aren’t looking to reinvent them, but help make them run more smoothly. Think of it as squeezing out all the juice possible, rather than looking to another fruit. With half the year already gone by, here’s some of the best tech advancements that are now powering sneakers.
Nike ISPA Link
The Nike ISPA (Improvise, Scavenge, Protect, Adapt) has been the most innovative and at times radical expression of the Swoosh’s constant desire to evolve. The latter of that is certainly exemplified in the new ISPA Link model, which takes the now ubiquitous sock-fit and chunky sole design to the next level. More significantly is its modular construction method that has massively cut down the time needed on the production line – all without a drop of glue. As the Link proves its mettle over the next few months, there will be an Air-soled successor called the ISPA Link Axis coming next year.
While 3D printing is not a particularly new technology, its applications in the sneaker world still remain relatively under utilised. At least that was until Zellerfeld entered the scene with their ‘first fully 3D-printed shoe available to the public’, which had its proof of concept confirmed in late 2021 with a Heron Preston collaboration. While the concept is technically now available in relatively limited guises, continued investment from Zellerfeld and various brand partners such as Kid Super should mean the product becomes easier to make in abundance, and therefore democratising a technology that has a lot of usage potential in this industry.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star CX FlyEase
Converse have been under the Nike umbrella for almost 20 years now, and the heritage basketball brand has benefitted from shared technology and ideas in recent years. The Chuck Taylor All Star will forever be their all-time best seller – some say it’s the greatest sneaker on earth – and now even more people are able to wear it. This is thanks to the FlyEase system that’s been fitted to the Chuck for the first time ever, increasing its accessibility for the impaired. Of course, Converse have done more than just integrate a new fitting system to their shoe; they’ve also added their own CX cushioning compound to keep things cushy.
Converse Sponge Crater
Back-to-back with Converse tech innovations sees another application of Nike tech in a unique way. Enter the Sponge Crater, a crazy new design that looks like it draws absolutely nothing from the Cons archive. They’re definitely not basketball shoes, that’s for sure! Launched via the very on-brand partnership with A-COLD-WALL*, this dystopian stomper bares all of its Crater Foam shell in craggy particulate grey glory. The potential applications of the foam are now broadened as it shows the stuff can be used not only under foot, but above it too.