Over the past half a decade knit has come to absolutely dominate the boot market. It is because of this that the industry has been able to go to new places and create product that one never thought might have been possible in the past. However, it somewhat seems like something has been lost. Although knit may seem like a new direction to take synthetic boots, its like a different animal entirely. Synthetic boots are now largely limited to takedown models and smaller brands. As mentioned before, relying on knit only serves to stifle innovation. Nike’s recent Air Zoom Mercurial concept is a bold new direction for synthetics, but it still gives the feeling that there is more that can be done. At least it does give us a taste of what brands might be thinking to do with 3D printing technology.
3D printing is one of the things that many brands don’t appear to have wrapped their collective heads around. Sure, a lot of concepts and prototypes are 3D printed as is the previously mentioned Air Zoom Mercurial concept. but nothing has come to the boot market that is made by a 3D printer. Adidas seemed to have started something with the launch of their Alphaedge 4D shoes and all of the styles that have appeared after that, but they still have been shutting down their Futurecraft factories and it seems as if cost is still quite prohibitive. The initial idea for the Futurecraft factories was to have most footwear product come through there, which would have included football boots as well. Unfortunately, with adidas abandoning this project, only Nike seems like they might be serious about bringing 3D printing tech to football boots.
Something else that seems to be returning to football boots at some point this year is carbon fibre. Its all the craze in the running world at the moment (hello, mechanical doping!) but even though it was a stable of the Mercurial product line for several years, it still felt somewhat underutilized since it seemed like Nike was happy enough with slapping carbon fibre on the soleplate and calling it a day. A similar material to carbon fibre, KaRVO, is increasingly being used by Japanese companies like Mizuno and by companies who have product exclusively for the Japanese market like with Hummel and New Balance. It would be interesting to see what a big 3 brand like Nike or adidas would do with a technology like KaRVO.
Lastly, and probably the most important consideration when it comes to any new boot tech is the impact that the creation will have on the environment. Adidas has made a pretty good start with their colab with Parley to use (some) ocean plastic and Nike also deserves praise for their forward-thinking when it came to kits released in the early part of the last decade. It does cause one to wonder what kind of boots can be made with recycled plastic. We also must consider what happens to the boots once they’re worn out and thrown away. Leather boots are more of an issue when it comes to them being made but they biodegrade easier since they are made out of more natural materials. We’re not even sure how long some synthetic boots will take to biodegrade. Since pollution is such a massive issue, and most plastic isn’t actually recycled, it makes me wonder how can brands better cut down on waste and use recycled materials for future products.
These were just some things I’m hoping to see with synthetic boots. Hopefully this year we will see a lot of new takes on synthetic and even more so I hope they will be more environmentally friendly.
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