How Mizuno Run Sportstyle in the Wave Rider β

Mizuno Wave Rider Beta

Mizuno are masters of the long game. While founded almost 120 years ago as innovators in multiple sports disciplines, the Japanese brand’s footwear story truly begins in a more contemporary context. In modern times, enlightened consumers are living in Mizuno’s next renaissance period with the Wave Rider β (aka Beta), the Sportstyle delineation of the namesake Wave Rider performance line. Here’s how they got there.

Mizuno & Bros Shopfront
Mizuno & Bros Shopfront circa 1913

From Baseball to the RunBird

Brothers Rihachi and Rizo Mizuno founded Mizuno Brothers Ltd. in Kita Ward, Osaka, in 1906. While initially selling Western paraphernalia, namely baseballs and adjacent equipment, the brothers soon ventured into other ball sports like tennis and golf, which remain key categories for the brand today. Skiing was also part of the repertoire – just one advantage of having some of the world’s finest pow on earth.

In 1972, Mizuno launched M-Line, a series of general-purpose athletic shoes bearing a simple M logo on the sides that proved popular. As the decade played out, Mizuno looked to step foot into the running boom that was taking the world by storm. They had a major market to tap into, and one that was leading the fitness kick: America.

Mizuno entered the 1980s by officially offering their shoes to the USA. In need of a distinct logo to identify themselves in this new venture, the brand introduced the RunBird trademark, which debuted on an eponymous running shoe in 1983. The RunBird has since appeared on just about every Mizuno product to this day.

,Mizuno Wave Rider 1997
(1997) Mizuno Wave Rider
Mizuno Wave Catalogue
Mizuno Wave Rider and Wave ST

Running in the 90s

As globalisation boomed in the 1990s and athletes looked worldwide for pinnacle footwear – especially in the athletic field – brands were keen to show off their foot wares. Mizuno, again not swayed by the rapid movements of transcontinental players in the visible technology arms race, stayed steady on their course to develop a truly innovative running product. Building on the ‘Magical Cloth’ stability midsole they had developed in the mid-1980s, Mizuno created the Wave Plate, an energy-dispersing insert that reduced impact on runners’ feet and stabilised foot landings for a neutral ride.

The Wave Plate spawned the Wave Rider, a new flagship line launched in late 1997. This started a legacy product line that’s since spawned annual successors and ever-improving tweaks to the namesake technology. It’s now in its 26th generation – something that some other technologies of the 90s have fallen far short of. Talk about the long game.

Mizuno Wave Rider Beta Sample
Early WIP of the Mizuno Wave Rider β
Mizuno Wave Rider Beta
Mizuno Wave Rider β

Get on the Wave

The latest addition to the enduring Wave Rider series is the Wave Rider β, which delves into fruitful territory for Mizuno via their Sportstyle category. A project more than two years in the making, there were six different samples created before arriving at the final product today.

The abridged story of the β is that it’s an original model inspired by Mizuno’s 2000s running archive married to the midsole from the incumbent Wave Rider 26 flagship.

‘We thought that this sole was the perfect ingredient to build the β project around,’ explains Arnaud Lalanne, Sportstyle Designer at Mizuno.

‘The concept of visible technology is important in our DNA, but it’s also linked to the idea of humility that is very strong in Japanese culture as well. It’s there, we’re not hiding it, we’re proud of it – but we also don’t have to scream it everywhere.’

‘I really believe that Mizuno was in a golden age of running shoe design,’ says Lalanne of the archival elements – inspired by Wave Riders 8 to 11 – referenced on the β. ‘We also feel that our 2000s running shoes offer a lot of possibilities that have not been experimented with yet.’

Mizuno Wave Rider Beta
Mizuno Wave Rider Beta
,Mizuno Wave Rider Beta

Best for the β

The Wave β’s colourways express strong colour-blocking in classic suede and mesh construction while also integrating ‘hotmelt’ underlays beneath the RunBird logo – an overt showcase of the brand’s technical prowess and functionality.

‘We are using suede and mesh because we really wanted to express a very strong pillar in our DNA that is Japanese heritage in terms of dedication to quality,’ says Lalanne. ‘We are also a sports company that has been able to master a lot of techniques – “hotmelt” being one of them – so it offers a lot of opportunities for design expression.’

With collaboration, the certifiable way to crossover compatible audiences and amplify new ideas, Mizuno have been judicious about their partners. It’s no different for the β, which so far has a project lined up with Japanese retail neighbour BEAMS, who have been long-time supporters by frequently reworking Mizuno’s other offerings.

‘We have a couple of very select projects that will be done around the Wave Rider β but want to focus on the collaborations that really make sense.’

By no means is the β locked to one country: Lalanne has French heritage and works out of the Netherlands, designing shoes for a Japanese company.

‘The foundations of the brand are deeply rooted in Japan, but nowadays, we are more than that – Mizuno is a global company that has bridged the gaps between countries. The idea is to build on Japanese foundations for a global scale.’

As for the long, long game for Mizuno Sportstyle and the β? When asked whether it would get retroed, like many of its predecessors, Lalanne offers a philosophical parting thought.

‘At the moment, part of our DNA is to play around with the archive of sport, and that’s what we did with the β. In 15 years, the β will definitely be archived, but in the archive of Sportstyle. At this stage, I think it’s a bit difficult to give a clear answer, and actually, I think that’s the beauty of it. I don’t know where this adventure of Mizuno Sportstyle will take us, but first, we need to walk this path, and I’m really looking forward to where it brings us.’

Hop on the Wave Rider β by visiting Mizuno now.

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