Outlook 2013: Step Lively
Tennis companies are making shoes increasingly innovative in both style and technology.
By Kent Oswald
The major brands are celebrating the paradoxes of tennis footwear. Across the board, shoes are becoming lighter, while also increasingly durable — with 6-month and even 1-year outsole guarantees a norm. Fashion and function, rather than co-existing as antagonists, are increasingly paired by designers (and technicians) as key drivers for increased sales. Manufacturers have responded to the difficult business climate of the past few years with shoes increasingly innovative in style and technology. It may not all be leading to a paradise where players will be coordinating multiple pairs of shoes to their tennis outfits, but it appears manufacturers have responded to the changing demands of all player segments and are well positioned to take advantage of the needs of the 28-plus million pairs of feet needing to be shod that the TIA recently reported are now sprinting, sliding and planting themselves on court surfaces across the land.
adidas.com • 800-448-1796
The latest additions to Adidas footwear lineup are the adizero Climacool Feather III (men) and Climacool Temapaia II (women), very stable, lightweight shoes with significant outsole durability and featuring the highly breathable Climacool. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ana Ivanovic are the premier endorsers (for men in two versions of vivid yellow/black/running white; and for women in running white/tech grey/vivid yellow).
babolat.com • 877-316-9435
Having collaborated with Michelin experts for durability and enhanced traction on all surfaces, and Andy Roddick for stylishness and game effectiveness, Babolat will introduce its new Propulse 4 shoe in March. The latest iteration of its popular footwear (available in black/yellow/white for men, women and juniors) will continue in a low profile, but offer increased lateral movement support and heel cushioning.
princetennis.com • 800-2TENNIS
Prince, carrying its head high with the T22 being the best-selling shoe in U.S. specialty shops according to TIA/SMS data, updates the line with new colors for men and juniors (white/black/energy) and women (silver/berry). For marketing and promotion of the shoes (and the remainder of the line as well), the company will be relying heavily on social media throughout the spring.
kswiss.com • 800-714-4477
The flagship shoe of the K-Swiss line has been revised. The Big Shot II, the most technical, performance shoe of the California company, has been reworked into a lighter, more breathable version. Enhancements for this version include improved support for lateral movement and enhanced mid-foot and heel stability, traction and durability.
newbalance.com • 800-253-7463
With plans to increase its marketing to the tennis audience as the year unfolds, New Balance introduced its low-profile, high-stability and durable 996 in January. The all-court, performance shoe for men (white/silver, white/green and black/yellow) and women (white/silver and white/pink/blue) features a lightweight cushioning material, a herringbone outsole to improve traction and extra toe-box protection.
wilson.com • 773-714-6400
Featured footwear in Wilson’s 2013 line will be the Rush Pro (for both men and women) and Rush Pro Jr. The shoes are lightweight, low profile and engineered to offer the aggressive player stability, feel and responsiveness. The Rush, a lighter model also available for both men and women, will be coming to market in May. The shoes are available in a stylish range of color options and the most prominent endorsers are Feliciano Lopez and Melanie Oudin.
head.com • 800-289-7366
Featuring the endorsements of Andy Murray and Christina McHale, Head will be introducing its new shoes prior to the professional tours joining up in Miami in March. The new shoes to be introduced for men will be the durable, stable and breathable Speed Pro III, as well as the lightweight, comfort-oriented Motion Pro. The women’s line will also add the Motion Pro, and the Speed III, built on a special junior last, will be unveiled for younger players.
See all articles by Kent Oswald
About the Author
Kent Oswald is a contributor to TennisNow.com, producer at the JockBookReview.com and a former editor of Tennis Week magazine.
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