Textile Insight

May / June 2018

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FOOTWEAR | ATHLEISURE The Athleisure Equation A Performance Package that Delivers Style & Comfort via Engineered Materials. By Jennifer Ernst Beaudry ive years after it burst into the popular conscious- ness, athleisure is still on fire, knocking off sales in other categories and dominating the conversation. But as the market has evolved, it's become clear that the term is hardly just another way of saying "casual sneakers." There's a performance package that wearers have come to expect, even from styles they never intend to take to the gym: They want stylish shoes that read as on-trend, but deliver more. And the key elements? There are two that brands — and consumers — keep coming back to. One is ease: Slip-on or one-handed styles dominate, which means three-way stretch uppers, fabrics with soft hands like neoprene, and jersey-lined leathers and synthetics that allow barefoot wear. And the second is comfort. Brands looking to target the athleisure customer are upgrading their materials, shaping their sock liners and bringing their A-game to the marketplace; some are even bringing in the same technologies found in their premium athletic collections. Here, Textile Insight looks at the techy ways five brands are balancing their performance stories with the easy-wear look that's moving the marketplace. OluKai Miki Li When Hawaii-inspired brand OluKai launched its first explicitly athleisure style for Spring '18, the goal was creating a shoe that could work for a full Hawaiian day: water-friendly, hike-able and stylish. Aesthetically, the $130 Miki Li checks all the athleisure boxes: it has a low profile, streamlined look and an island-inspired pastel color palette, with the brand's signature leather accents. But the technical element was critical: Grippy rubber and razor siping on the sole keep the wearer stable on wet surfaces, and the stretchy upper and drop-in heel make it easy-on, easy-off. And of course, comfort is key: a jersey lining makes it ready for barefoot wear, and a removable, washable anatomical footbed made of dual- density PU with a gel insert is designed to cradle the foot. The style will be carried over for Spring '19 in new colorways — but expect more to come. Blaine Conrad, VP of product for the Irvine, CA-based brand, said plans to expand into more athleisure styles are in the works. Jordan Standard The Jordan brand made its name as the vanguard in performance basketball shoes, pushing the envelope in tech and in aesthetics. (Let us not forget that it was the Jordan 1's bold, against-the-rules color scheme, not its tech specs, that made it a game-changer.) That attitude is manifestly in evidence with the brand's latest release, the Tinker Hatfield-designed Standard. The $140 shoe, which released April 30, takes inspiration from the 2004 Nike Sock Dart running style. A tonal all-black or all-white color palette, the Jordan brand's iconic elephant print on the midfoot strap and the instantly eye-catching "feathered leather" on the forefoot pay homage to sneaker 16 • Textile Insight ~ May/June 2018 textileinsight.com F The Jordan Standard has an elephant print midfoot strap and a "feathered leather" forefoot. Brands looking to target the athleisure customer are upgrading their materials, shaping their sock liners and bringing their A-game to the marketplace.

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