The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%, Nike Zoom Fly and Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 release June 8 at Nike.com and through select retailers.
Nike and adidas are both making a push to reignite the performance running market and they are both going towards big lengths to do so. Introducing shoes that will help their runners train for the sub 2 marathon, Nike is introducing a pack (four shoes pictured above) of three shoes that consists of updated models of their classic runners.
What’s interesting is the shape of the runners. It seems that the brand is coming hard for upstart indie brands.
The Zoom VaporFly 4% looks to be directly influenced by HokaOneOne. The heavily cushioned runner that has gained considerable marketshare with serious runners and walkers.
Forgoing one of Nike’s latest innovations in neutral running the Vapor Fly features a full length carbon chassis which ISN’T like the HokaOneOne in that a carbon plate provides stability which isn’t one of the strengths of shoes that have as much cushioning between the insole and pavement. It’s an interesting strategy to introduce such a tech loaded shoe that appears to be a cushioned ride. It will be interesting to see the response to the shoe, but I definitely see it being a shoe that is picked up in lieu of other cushioned rides out there.
The Nike Zoom Fly is built on a similar chassis to the VaporFly.
The Vapor Fly 4% uses Nike’s new ZoomX cushioning. The Zoom Fly utilizes Lunarlon cushioning tech. This shoe has the 33mm offset that is also reminiscent of the Hoka and Altra Paradigm.
What I see occurring here is Nike catering to a market that doesn’t run but is making the transition into running. New runners often feel that more cushioning will make their run easier. As they begin to run and get more comfortable runners typically begin to look at shoes that have better road feel. This is where Nike shines in introducing an updated version of what has always been their best road shoe, The Air Zoom Pegasus 34
The Pegasus returns with the classic dual density and Zoom fit and feel that has carried runners through 34 updates.
The Zoom Air in the Heel and Forefoot remains in place and an updated reinforced yarn upper blends with Flymesh to create a great looking shoe inspired by auto racing at Monza.
The fourth shoe is a completely new design for the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite. In complete contrast to adidas’ sub 2 shoe which is a low profile neutral runner with a minimalist approach, Nike has introduce their new Nike ZoomX Midsole and a shoe that appears to have a much higher stance for their runners taking on the sub 2 hour marathon challenge.
The VaporFly Elite is given a detailed breakdown on the Nike site and explains the ride height and materials utilized for the push for performance relevance.
Will the focus on performance translate into sales for both brands? Will this focus reignite an interest in performance running. adidas was the only brand to see growth in this area, but that’s because their introduction of BOOST was a style trend driven by Kanye West and Pharrell. While most people won’t admit it and will argue, adidas is benefitting enormously from their influencers and the product happens to be more attractive to the market. While it is performance based, it is primarily a fashion move. These products from Nike are not fashion driven. Nike is relying heavily on their roots in running. They are refusing to bow to the trend of fashion over function. The question is will customers care about the function?
This is going to be interesting.