Winter sports are back in style
The latest trends in sports footwear and clothing are not just based on high technology - as Penny Leese found out at ISPO, the international trade fair for sports equipment and fashion.Footwear
Metallics are everywhere for next winter. Shiny silver predominates, often trimmed with smaller details in black, or metallic red or metallic blue - which looks great on Lowa's ski boots.
Running shoes for winter come in shiny black patent (adidas); silver is now the norm for soccer shoes; and red is a standard colour that looks especially good in synthetics. Umbro's new X Boot for kids comes in shiny red.
Although Canadian-style shell boots have been in Europe for a long time, they didn't really make a big breakthrough except in parts of Scandinavia. But now they are everywhere, with classic and new optics, in soft colours for women from North Face.
Shoes and boots need to be safe too. Montrail uses 'Gryptonite' on its bottom soles, which has been developed from its rock climbing shoes but uses harnesses: harder on the outside edge to combat wear and softer and stickier on the inside edge and forepart.
Ice Bug's soles have retractable metal studs for winter wear. Originally designed for jogging shoes they have proved even more successful for real winter applications - such as warm lined snowboarder-inspired winter boots, with chunky insulating and lightweight midsoles and rugged bottom soles.
Reebok has launched an ingenious update on the Pump air bladder. There are no laces as such on the boots any more, but rubber 'elastics' across the vamp or the 'Boa Fit' system of metal laces wound up with a coil disc system on top of the tongue. Pull on the boots, and pump up the bladder and you get a perfect fit.
The Boa Fit system is also used by North Face for winter boots. It is ideal here since a quick pull release button in the disc means the boots can still be undone without removing gloves - a good idea in very cold weather conditions when freezing fingers don't work properly to undo lacings.
RBK has introduced the Kinetic Fit System to the uppers of its running shoes. The soles are already divided into three parts that can move independently for good foreflex and lateral movements; now the uppers have also been divided up into three parts which move independently.
Spring Boost from Switzerland is the first to use negative heels in active sports - and calls it 'Dorsi Flexion.' Inside the shoes are interchangeable midsoles with different degrees of slope that can be swapped to fit the user, or the sport.
The technology was launched just one year ago for Spring Boost's B-Fit fitness shoes. The negative part of the heel is actually inside the shoe, which then has a normal looking outsole. It is supposed to improve the flow of the blood to the calf muscles and also help spinal posture.
Salomon uses soft shell technology and non-stitched uppers to create very lightweight breathable winter running shoes.
Sports footwear at ISPO is not just based on high technology; there were lots of casual and sports inspired shoes as well. RBK has a full range of lifestyle classic leather retro shoes, each one individualised by collaboration with stars recognised by the young, such as rappers and DJs like 50 cents and Nellie, G Unit and S Carter.
Wade Signature basketball boot by Converse, with trendy zig-zag butt
Camouflage images were all over ISPO: on fashion designer Tyro, winner of the Brand New Award; as well as on shoes, such as the toecap and Velcro strap of 80s looking official NBA supporter basketball boots by RBK, Reebok's street-led fashion brand.
Kids grow so quickly that Roces has made a six-sizes-in-one ski boot. It is adjusted simply by rotating lever on the side. Height is controlled by an adjustable cuff.
Undies are in
Integrating body protection into clothing is not completely new, but is now being done much more scientifically.
Neil Pryde's underwear was thoroughly researched by Yves Béhar before being made. Only 1% of recreational skiers in American suffer injuries after their holidays, but almost all complain about bumps and bruises. The new underwear is designed to make life more comfortable, with 3D mesh compresses for comfort.
McDavid calls itself a sports medical company, although the products are designed to prevent injury and also look very cool in a wide choice of colours. There is padded underwear with revolutionary Hexpad inserts on areas that are in danger like hips or knees (depending on the sport).
Thermal shock can also be dangerous in sports, so the company has developed Thermal Shock protection. The maker says that it is 4-6º cooler than the competition after a 30 minute workout.
Shell boot by Meindl
Socks are back in the warm. Smartwool is promoting wool blend ski socks boasting better performance than total synthetics which can get smelly or cotton that absorbs sweat and gets heavy. Ski socks are in fashion too, with pretty patterns and decorations as at Four Leaf with Hawaii hibiscus patterns.
And for women a new idea: 'Quick Slip' underpants with quick release on the sides so that they can be removed and replaced with another pair without the need to pull them down - so ski boots stay on and over-trousers can just be pulled down a bit.
On the other hand, digital technology is part of normal fashion wear. adidas doesn't just have computers in its shoes any more; it has worked with a pulse meter company on fitness undergarments that constantly monitor the wearer's heartbeat and pulse. It can even work out how many calories are used.
Recco's transceiver is built into jackets, boots and gloves so that the wearers can be found early under the snow; if they are buried in an avalanche every minute counts.
Soft shell shoe by Salomon with stitchless construction
Sportswear fashion is getting cleaner and more minimal, while street and casual fashion seems to be getting more decorated.
Descente's ski outfits are simple in pure white, with a hint of red or black. And there was a lot of red around for ski and snowboard sports - at Salomon, for instance, the clean and understated look inspired by the 1970s is back. Lines are simple, slim and body-fitting.
But comfort is also maintained with thinner linings and reduced numbers of layers. North Face's Paclite jacket is very minimal (even the taping inside the unlined jacket is very narrow and precisely positioned to maintain maximum breathability.
Apparel for fitness is lighter and simpler. The RBK fitness line is in faded red and white or grey jersey with metallic logos that are so big they are cut off at the corners. Tops and T's have pretty necklines with the cut-away V-neck showing under vest straps. Little details like gold metallic zippers and logo-branded shoelace tips to the hoodie pulls made all the difference.
ISPO Summer takes place from 16-18 July 2006 and will run concurrent with a conference on the engineering of sport.
For additional information on what was on show at ISPO Winter, click here
By Penny Leese.
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