Living the Life
Exclusive Technologies + Premium Materials Are Elevating the Sneaker Game.
Living the Life
Exclusive Technologies + Premium Materials Are Elevating the Sneaker Game.
The sneaker category has changed a lot over the last ten years. When it comes to lifestyle/comfort sneaker offerings, there are now way more brands in the mix, a wider demographic reach, refined textiles, new technologies and most importantly, more opportunities to wear a pair. “Sneakers are the first choice anywhere from formal school dances to brunch with girlfriends. You’re more confident when you’re comfortable,” explains Victoria Feldman, marketing director, Latitudes Inc. Sydney Simas, VP of sales and marketing, Simco Imported Shoes, says she has seen a “heavy increase in the use of knit in footwear” thanks to sneakers being worn for more than solely athletic purposes. “Technology is fashion today. Many of the most performance-oriented products are also the most stylish, and it is the functional aspects that makes them beautiful and distinctive,” chimes in Brian Keating, lead designer, K-Swiss. What has maintained is that sneakers need to feel good. “There’s comfort now, not only in the footbed, but in the construction materials, the foams, upper leather qualities and strategically placed elements. The look is comforting and understated, which keeps the vibe a little more luxurious than comfort sneakers of the past,” notes Kelsey Jayne, VP of design, Dansko. She adds, “Comfort has improved to be all-encompassing and has gone luxe.” Bryce Anderson, co-founder of new outdoor-inspired sneaker brand Landed, says, “When we set out to make the first Landed sneaker, we started with comfort in mind.” He adds, “People want comfort and they want utility in their sneakers.” Let’s take a peek at some modernized comfort offerings.
Geox/Spherica Actif X
A jacquard textile upper with transfer details is married with a midsole in this style, resulting in a gradient effect for a dynamic, running-inspired look. The midsole, which guarantees cushioning and a rebound effect, opens along the entire length of the foot for comfort. MSRP $180.
The Biom franchise from ECCO is elevated for Spring ’24 with elements of patent leather, smooth leathers and textured textiles. A new LYTR technology is the brand’s lightest, softest and most comfortable midsole yet. LYTR is paired with an anatomical footbed for an athletic-inspired shoe sculpted for the human foot. MSRP $160.
Topo Athletic/MT-5 (With Zipfoam)
The MT-5 from Topo introduces a new ZipFoam midsole that is softer and lighter than previous iterations, for an energized feel underfoot. ZipFoam provides a firmer and more stable ride on the ground. The MT-5 is designed to be a versatile performance style, and can be worn from city to summit. MSRP $130.
Skechers/GO WALK Max Walker – Augustus
The new Skechers GO WALK Max Walker spotlights a Skechers Max Cushioning design providing comfort and support for both men and women. A performance walking shoe, the GO WALK Max Walker blends comfort and athletic style with heel padding for step-in comfort, Skechers Air-Cooled Memory Foam insoles, and a lightweight, responsive ULTRA GO cushioning platform. MSRP $90.
The casual chic look of the Rhythm with a pair of wide legged trousers is only enhanced by the TRUcomfort insole, providing heel and arch support. The shoe redefines motion with Dynamic Motion Technology; an enhanced toe spring lifts you off your toes and onto your heels so you stand tall. SmartKnit uppers are machine washable to keep your white kicks looking fresh. MSRP $170.
Fall ’24 brings the introduction of the upgraded Genesis II, an enhanced version of Xelero’s original Genesis model. The sneaker fuses support and cushioning to cater to consumers who prioritize both performance and comfort. The knit mesh upper offers a snug fit and ensures breathability, providing a glove-like feel. MSRP $194.99.
All Aetrex shoes feature its signature orthotic which incorporates learnings and data from its foot scanning technology for help offer premium support and fit. The Aetrex Blake sneaker is a classic silhouette offered in white and black leather with luxe details. MSRP $139.95.
This Mary Jane gets active with a mesh upper, an adjustable hook-and-close strap, padded heel quarter and protective mudguard. The removable molded footbed detailed in memory foam and cork complements the lightweight EVA and rubber ReBounce outsole. MSRP $120.
Spring ’24 brings a new collection to the forefront for Propét with a new athletic sneaker offering. The 392 DuroCloud includes a high rebound ETPA DuroCloud midsole with a carbon fiber shank, which is a first for Propét, bringing added comfort to this men’s offering. MSRP $149.95.
FRANKIE4/Billie White Tumbled
Crafted with buttery-soft leathers sourced from Leather Working Group Gold and Silver rated tanneries, the Billie White Tumbled is a fashion-forward sneaker with a sustainable side. An inner foam lining is made from rPET and the shoelaces are crafted from recycled cotton. All FRANKIE4 shoes are constructed of layers of different materials, particular densities and specific contours to cradle, align, protect and optimize comfort. MSRP $209.
Mephisto combines stylish designs with Soft-Air Technology, which utilizes a specialized midsole to absorb shock and provide superior cushioning. We infuse Soft-Air into all our footwear. The Kim utilizes premium leathers and color blocking to create a modern look housed on an aggressive sneaker sole. A side zipper allows for ease of wear. MSRP $279.
Engineered with HighSoft comfort technology, Mikky boasts super-soft calf leather uppers, a flexible and shock-absorbent direct-injected platform outsole, a removable cushioned insole and a concealed foam insert under the ball of the foot for a pleasurable wearing experience. Direct-injected footwear has many advantages, including greater durability, flexibility, shock absorption, and lightness. MSRP $189.95.
A flagship sneaker offering, the Z Soul is crafted using a soft canvas upper, which is cut, stitched and then stone washed to achieve a softer texture and a subtly distressed appearance. YKK zippers provide a stylish design element, along with easy on/off. The shoe includes a Curves & Pods premium polyurethane insole for targeted support to the arches, metatarsal and heel, plus incorporated cushioned pods for shock absorption. MSRP $110.
The debut line from new brand Landed is inspired by classic styles, designed for versatility, comfort, and performance. Landed is aiming to bridge the gap between classic sneakers, modern outdoor performance, and sustainability, in town to trail sneakers. The outdoor-inspired Switchback takes inspiration from approach shoes and features a full length lacing system MSRP $124.95.
Krypton is a breathable knit sneaker with a removable, natural cork and latex footbed for all-day comfort. The Atmosphere Collection features a 1.25” rubber + foam sole which is lightweight and durable. The insole has metatarsal support, heel indentation and arch support built in, while molding to the foot to create a custom footbed. MSRP $169.95.
Arcopedico footwear is crafted on the concept of a supportive sole and non-binding upper. The Easy Fit collection, including the Thetis, includes silhouettes ideal for all-day wear. This Spring ’24 slip-on is made of recycled materials and features Twin Arch Support. Thetis is 100% Vegan and machine washable. MSRP $125.
Q: What do consumers expect in a comfort or lifestyle sneaker?
“Comfort is probably the no. 1 factor in choosing a sneaker. The majority of consumers aren’t looking for a high-performance shoe, such as running or hiking. They want something cute they can slip on knowing their feet won’t hurt at the end of the day.” – Sydney Simas, VP of sales and marketing, Simco Imported Shoes
“Consumers want cushioning and support that enables all day wearability. Sneakers have long provided flexibility and breathability (and this remain vital), but now this has to be accomplished with versatile designs that can be worn in a multitude of different settings from casual outings to light athletic activities.” – Logan Bird, VP omni-channel sales, Mephisto USA
“Women are on the hunt for a pair of sneakers that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also comfortable. Their sneakers need to fit their lives while ideally providing ample support to help them move throughout their busy day.” – Victoria Feldman, marketing director, Latitudes (mōshn)
“Aesthetics must not only be on trend, but offer the wearer something that makes them unique, something that mirrors their individuality. They also lean toward brands that come from a place of authenticity.” – Rudy Manival, director of product, K-Swiss
“Consumers expect advanced cushioning technologies that provide superior support and alleviate foot fatigue during prolonged wear. Additionally, there is a growing demand for versatile designs that effortlessly transition from fitness activities to everyday casual wear. Consumers also appreciate sustainable and breathable materials that contribute to overall foot health.” – Dan Werremeyer, president, Instride Shoes
“Today, 95% of the world’s population wear rubber-soled shoes, for leisure or business occasions, because comfort has become an essential element of the modern living. It is a phenomenon in constant growth. People want style together with comfort, they want both and they don’t give any room for compromise.” – Mario Moretti Polegato, founder, Geox
“Consumers are more knowledgeable about their foot health and the essential needs in footwear to provide not only cushioned comfort, but also ample space inside the shoe and toe box, supportive heel counters and shanks for stability for everyday wear. Our connection and history with Orthopedic footwear have provided us a clear path to meeting these needs for consumers.” – Jennifer Sokso, director of marketing, Propét
“Consumers are looking for a mix of elements in their sneakers. They want comfort, function, aesthetics and brand. ECCO consumers have a strong loyalty to our brand which we attribute to the combination of all those elements in our shoes.” – Brandy LaPlante, sales manager, ECCO
“With so many sneaker options out there, customers are looking for something that stands out in terms of comfort and/or styling. We are not a super techy brand, but we strive to have great arch support in all of our constructions. We are known for our awesome Classic footbed and all of our footbeds have this DNA.” – Megan Gold, design director, Alegria
“We’ve innovatively combined the comfort of soft, supportive footbeds and shoes with fashionable styles. The ideal comfort sneaker should fit well and feel akin to supportive cushions under the feet. Historically, this level of comfort was only associated with chunky orthopedic shoes, or sports runners, which typically aren’t the most fashionable.” – Hilary McMillan, group CEO, FRANKIE4
“Consumers want comfort, but they also want utility and style. There are so many sneakers on the market that are not comfortable. The consumers we have spoken to want to be able to have one sneaker in their quiver that can take them through the day regardless of what is on their agenda... office, lunch, shopping, golfing, walking at the park, hitting a trail, et cetera.” – Bryce Anderson, co-founder, Landed
“Comfort is top of mind for consumers and for Skechers’ design team. As The Comfort Technology Company, we understand how to combine trending silhouettes and colorways with our signature innovations like Skechers Arch Fit technology, or features like Hyper Burst, Max Cushioning, and Hyper Pillars for ultra-lightweight and resilient cushioning.” – Kathy Kartalis, SVP of global product, Skechers
“When shopping for sneakers, consumers are looking for styles that have generous cushioning, breathable materials, are lightweight, and versatile. Our shoes look stylish and prioritize the essence of comfort, embodying the perfect synergy between fashion and the art of shoemaking.” – Andrew Agati, director of merchandising, Ara
“A shoe needs to fit well and feel great underfoot to be considered by a customer looking specifically for a comfort shoe, but that’s not the only consideration. The colors, design, and overall look of a product is nearly equally important.” – Russ Stevens, product manager, Topo Athletic
“A ‘quiet luxury’ trend has emerged with consumers seeking timeless, versatile designs that prioritize comfort and style.” – Amy Egelja, VP of footwear design, Aetrex
“People want more out of their sneakers today. It’s not just a look, but also how can they help you with posture and provide health benefits. They want to look on trend with all of the support they may be getting out of their orthotics.” – Ayelet Lax Levy, president, Naot Footwear
“More look, with the comfort bells and whistles. Versatility. We craft new collections around comfort technology, and then we build the fashion looks and colors into the styling.” – Kelsey Jayne, VP of design, Dansko
“Today’s consumers want shoes that not only look great, but also provide exceptional support for all-day wear. They want a sneaker that is comfortable and is a good value. Taos leverages advancements in technology across every facet of development; from initial design and improved manufacturing techniques, to blending organic materials, sustainable compounds and ergonomic design principles for optimal support, style and quality.” – Glen Barad, founder, täōs