norda Is Making the Lamborghini of Trail Running Shoes
Montreal-based footwear brand norda is endeavouring to make the Lamborghini of trail-running shoes.
'If we're going to build this, we're going to build the finest,' co-founder Nick Martire tells Sneaker Freaker.
norda is run (pun intended) by co-founders Nick and Willa Martire, as well as partner and head of product design Louis-Martin Tremblay. The idea for norda was first conceived when Martire and Martin Tremblay were on a work trip to Milan, home of sole specialists Vibram. By the time the pair back touched down in Montreal, a business plan had been drafted, and a clear idea for norda had been defined.
The brand's first shoe, the norda 001 is packed with industry-leading tech, including some of the lightest, fastest, strongest, and most innovative materials and textiles around. Many runners would agree, norda is truly aiming to lead the pack when it comes to performance footwear. As a result, the 001 comes with a price tag that is aligns with leading styles from competitors, for example, the Nike Vaporfly 4%.
Below, we chat with the brand's co-founders about all the tech that is packed into the norda 001, their creative approach to collaborations, and what lies further down the trail in 2023 and beyond.
Hey Nick and Louis. Let’s start with the your first shoe, the norda 001. Was your original intention to create a 'no expenses spared' level of shoe?
Louis: From the beginning, we knew we didn’t want to be just another brand. Especially in a trail environment, we feel like a lot of street and road running brands shifted to trail running as it has picked up. As trail runners ourselves, we feel there is room for a true trail-running brand that will make top products in the industry. We know that most trail shoes didn't last that long, and don't give you everything that they were selling. We want the best material, we want the best outsole and the best midsole, and we want the product to last the longest that it can.
Nick: We wanted to use some of the most innovative materials on earth, so we started looking for the lightest and strongest. Well, it's Dyneema. We know that Kevlar has been used for footwear. But Dyneema has never truly been used to the level that we are using it, our bio-based version is also quite special.
In addition to the Dyneema upper, one interesting component you're using in the liner is Graphene, can you explain some of the benefits of that material?
Nick: If you want to build the highest-performance products, it often starts with the lightest and strongest. Graphene is literally the lightest and strongest natural material on earth. If it's not the finest, we're not doing it. Some other companies use it in soles, it certainly makes the sole more durable, but it definitely makes it more slippery.,
So we really pursued the use of Graphene in our membrane because it’s paper thin, and yet it insulates and dissipates heat, it's antibacterial, and it doesn't smell. There's a lot of bullshit about Graphene out there, but the company that we work with in Italy is a foremost expert.
Tell us about your Vibram sole, what makes it unique from other soles?
Nick: We're super honoured that Vibram chose to work with us on this. Our sole is entirely proprietary, it’s entirely our design and it's exclusive to us. Vibram only creates custom soles for very special projects. I think when they heard that we were playing with Dyneema and Graphene, they were interested. They only develop soles like this in very limited circumstances, and fortunately, they chose us. So we have two soles. On one, the spikes actually become carbide steel spikes in winter, and the other has permanent carbide steel spikes.
Louis: On both our soles, I added these designs which were inspired by the Canadian [geologic] Shield. They're like the sipes of a winter tire. So that's the best grip on Earth.
What are your criteria for a collaboration? What kind of boxes are you trying to tick when you do a collaboration?
Louis: Well the first word that comes to mind is organic. And I think Ciele was sort of a no-brainer, it’s another Montreal-based company that's been creating such a great product. We want to make sure that the two brands speak the same language and are moving in the same direction in that sense.
Nick: Satisfy came to us very early on and there's tremendous energy between us. What's really interesting, there's this whole moment right now for premium running brands in apparel, but none of them make shoes. Someone just wrote a review on norda, and the reviewer said that in running, he had never seen the number of colours and limited editions that we've put out in a short period. So I think we're really bringing something fresh.
The 001 has already been quite well-received, can you give us any teasers into what the future holds?
Nick: The 002 is coming out in April next year, it's in production now. We will be launching a third shoe called the 003. I won't say what it is yet, but it's coming out next fall. And then we have a really cool project that we just kicked off for 2024, and I'll just leave it at that. We skipped 004. That one is held for something else, but we've got five shoes planned over the course of the next two years.
Shop the norda 001 at nordarun.com.