Making Waves in 2019

News and Product Updates from Around the Running Market.

Knit uppers are turning into a staple as we head into 2019. Mizuno is launching knit technology in its latest shoe introduction, the $130 Waveknit R2 for Spring 2019. The style introduces a new perspective on the brand’s Wave technology, combining the stability and cushioning of its Wave technology with a knit upper that delivers both performance and style.

Chuck Couch, Mizuno USA VP-running, says, “Our challenge was to deliver a knit that leveraged the core principles of Wave technology and withstands the high level of performance and midfoot fit expected in our footwear.”

The knit offers a sock-like fit, wrapping around the foot to provide hold and flexibility.  

Mizuno also recently unveiled new brand positioning. The campaign, called “Reach Beyond,” aims to embody Mizuno’s “passion, perseverance and pursuit to always go one step further than what is expected.” The tone of the marketing puts an emphasis on inclusivity of athletes, of all ages and skill levels. “Reach Beyond” replaces the previous brand positioning “Never Settle.”

Brooks Targets Big Growth

Brooks CEO Jim Weber, whose company finished Q3 with global revenues up 29 percent, credits a product refocus on performance for the gains, saying last year’s revamped Glycerin and Ghost styles and 2018’s Adrenaline and Transcend franchises won over shoppers in a market where performance has been given short shrift. “As you know, our category has been unsettled in the past three years, and we hit a sink hole in 2015 and 2016 — participation was down, there was retail disruption. We took a hard look at our assumptions and reinvented some of our product lines,” he says. “And we think performance is timeless. Fit, feel and ride always matter: always, always, always. And I don’t think the other [big] brands are focused on performance.”Weber says he is projecting double-digit growth for 2019, driven by the performance category and aided by moves the company is making internationally. Weber says the brand is bracing for new tariffs in 2019, specifically by a new duty applied to China-made goods expected in spring.“The tariffs on athletic footwear are 20 percent out of China and it’s highly likely they’ll be an additional 25 percent added in February, which means 45 percent tariffs on running shoes made in China,” Weber says. “And the options aren’t great.” Simply absorbing the duties could cost the brand an additional $20 million a year, he estimates, and he says the brand isn’t going to raise prices — in line with announcements by other brands. Brooks is actively working with its factory partners in China to move production elsewhere, Weber says: “We have to take our time and make long-term decisions.”

More Hovr from Under Armour

Look for Under Armour to build off of its Hovr cushioning platform in the year ahead. The brand plans to offer more Hovr styles with more digital connectivity, too. The full suite of running shoes built on the UA Hovr cushioning platform will aim to offer a footwear solution for every kind of runner. UA’s Hovr foam compound is designed to provide a cushioned ride with energy return and shock absorption with every foot strike. All of the styles will be digitally connected, allowing the runner to connect the shoe to the brand’s MapMyRun app, which offers access to the runner’s performance data and personalized coaching. The UA Hovr run suite for Spring 2019 features five running shoes, including:  the UA Hovr Infinite, a neutral cushion style;  the UA Hovr Guardian, a stability shoe;  the UA Hovr Velociti 2, a tempo trainer; the UA Hovr Sonic 2, which blends cushion and flex; and the UA Hovr Phantom SE, a “sport edition” of the Phantom Series.

Merrell’s Bare Access

In Fall 2019, Merrell will offer a zero drop trail shoe that also provides protection underfoot. The Bare Access XTR trail runner features zero heel-to-toe offset, a moderate amount of shock-absorbing foam and a sticky Vibram outsole.The shoe has a mesh and TPU upper, breathable mesh lining, Merrell Barefoot construction and is vegan friendly. The shoe weighs in at 6 ounces (women’s) and 8 ounces (men’s). It will retail for $100.