One big reason for Adidas’s recent ascent up the athleisure ladder is its Boost sole, proprietary Adidas tech featured on everything from the brand’s basketball sneakers to Yeezys, all shoes helping drive Adidas’s popularity, and cut into Nike’s market share.
Nike, naturally, responded, releasing its own squishy foam soles, called the ZoomX, earlier this year. The Swoosh made it an event the way only it can: the ZoomX made its debut on the Nike Vaporfly Elite, a sneaker that was invented with the sole purpose of helping Eliud Kipchoge run a 2-hour marathon.
The sock-like Vaporfly Elite hasn’t been released to the public, and with its radical design that’s probably for the best. Even the performance-based Zoom Vaporfly 4% is a little tech-y for street wear.
But the Zoom Fly SP, a more palatable version of the sneaker, first debuted back in June, and saw a more recent release this month. It doesn’t feature ZoomX, but it’s based on the prototype sneakers that eventually became the Nike Vaporfly Elite and Vapor 4%, and truthfully it’s bubbled under the radar a bit.
The Zoom Fly SP looks like the future of running shoes, but not, like, so far into the future that it’s incomprehensible or loaded with maybe-not-necessary technology. And unlike Nike’s other highly-touted 2017 running shoe, the Vapormax, the Zoom Fly SP is a lot more flattering on actual human feet.
At a time when ugly sneakers are everywhere, the Zoom Fly SP’s translucent nylon upper and molded foam sole have a more sculptural quality, the same thing that’s made all classic Nike classic, from the Air Jordan 1 to the Flyknit Racer.
They’re also insanely lightweight and, thanks to a study carbon fiber support system that runs through the sole, are legitimately good running shoes if you’re serious about wearing them for their intended purpose.
It’s unlikely that the Zoom Fly SP will singlehandedly save Nike’s running sneaker business, which is in pretty rough shape these days. But designing fresh silhouettes that are truly great, that leverage all of the science and innovation on hand, is the key to Nike’s greatness.
Adidas has spent all of 2017 playing catch up with Nike, even out-earning Jordan Brand for the first time ever. In the Zoom Fly SP, Nike reminds us why Nike is Nike, and why at least for now, they’re still at the top of the sneaker game.