An untapped market
It has been almost 23 years since the first proper speed boot was released on the market in the form of the original Mercurial. Since that time, various brands have all tried their hand at making a speed boot at one point or another. Brands like Lotto have even recently even brought back their Zhero series, which was original focused on sleeker looking and tech-forward boots, like the Zhero Gravity, rather than less traditional models. We have seen a rise in recent years of smaller, more classically focused brands like Ryal, Allure Calcio, and UnoZero who produce retro styled boots. They are becoming more popular as more players are becoming fed up with products offered on the current market. However, there is a hesitation with some people when it comes to classic boots because they seem too old school, or too heavy, or not responsive enough.
This is part of the reason why Mizuno’s Morelia Neo 3 and Neo Beta have been solid sellers and are picking up more and more fans. It is a speed boot but does not give up the comforts of a leather boot. It is a leather boot but does not give up the responsiveness or tech one expects with a speed boot.
It is because of this that I believe more brands should be following suit. Nike has had their tech craft releases several times but there has been struggles with sales. Nike’s approach to just put leather over a synthetic upper has held those packs back and even when they did offer a proper kangaroo leather upper, they released so many colourways in such a short period of time that the packs did not feel special but rather just another release. I am not sure how likely these packs will get more releases in the future, but there seems to be a certain way to go about this.
Another possibility why Mizuno succeeds where Nike has not is down to the (correct) perception of quality that comes with a Mizuno boot. Especially with the made in Japan models, Mizuno sets a high standard of quality that is difficult to match. This is down to the care Mizuno puts in when they create their products. The Morelia Neo 3 and Beta models are comfortable and high quality without sacrificing much.
And this is where I think this gap in the market comes in. Yes, Nike has made kangaroo leather models with it’s Tech Craft packs, but the feeling of quality and craftsmanship has not been there. Smaller brands like the previously mentioned Ryal or Allure can take advantage of the fact that their boots are still made in Italy and go about producing a more luxurious type of speed boot. We have already seen Pantofola D’Oro drop a new, lighter soleplate on their boots which has given food for thought for a lot of people who considered the brand before but may have thought the boots to be too heavy.
Which somewhat paints the way forward for a lot of these brands. It is not cheap, as creating new tooling (soleplates) and lasts are some of the most expensive parts of a football boot to develop. But because a lot of these smaller brands still mostly have their stuff made in Italy, they can lean on that quality when it comes to creating a classically styled speed boot. After all, Nike originally took great pride in the fact that their Mercurial series used to always be made in Italy. Smaller brands can capitalize on that. A hand-crafted speed boot with just a bit of tech seems like a wonderful idea.
There is also the fact that a lot of professional players tend to have more cushioning in their boots over retail models. And if the pros like having that much comfort, then surely the rest of us normies would appreciate that as well.
It may not be the most original idea in the world, but that gap in the market seems to be there. As someone who wore the original Vapor II Ks and has worn every single Morelia Neo style that has ever released, of course I have a bias. But the fact that more people seem interested in going for a leather speed boot like the Morelia Neo or classic boots with modern tooling, like the current Pantofola D’Oro Superleggera, leads me to believe that there is a space available for this type of concept.
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