The Nike Air VaporMax pays off the full promise of Air — to provide lightweight, consistent cushioning that lasts.
Last year in October I wrote an article on why VaporMax is important. Now with the dawn of VaporMax upon us, it will be interesting to see what will take place. Performance footwear has been decreasing over the last few years. Insiders are set on the idea that performance won’t be back as a category for a while.
I have a completely different opinion as the definition of performance needs to shift. Let me explain. Right now basketball and running shoes are performance shoes. When an analysis is done it fails to take into consideration that we are in a trend shift not just with performance as fashion, but fitness has been incorporated into lifestyles.
Biking has increased 60% over the last decade. In Memphis we have added a vast amount of biking lanes and biking paths throughout the city. We have the GreenLine and the HampLine. These paths can literally take you from one side of Memphis to the other side near our biggest park. Biking doesn’t require a specific footwear, but there is slowly returning an interest in fitness and social fitness. There are running groups that will be more active as the weather is changing a lot faster than it has, which means we are in for a long summer. These group fitness options are expanding because just as biking has increased a return to urban landscapes is allowing the creation of more alternative gyms and shops.
As more millennials move back into urban areas, they aren’t necessarily jogging, but they are walking more. Like how biking has increased, a more active lifestyle is happening via social groups, but because many people are living near their local Crossfit, or doing more non-traditional workouts, they aren’t wearing performance shoes the same way they had to. Performance has shifted, which has shifted casual, but the lines are blurred. I’m trying to be clear… All people, not just millennials, are more than willing to wear casual and retro looks to neighborhood pubs. People no longer have to wear performance as casual because their are more options for fashion. To cap it off denim has died and these same walkers in neighborhoods are now wearing more athletic related wear all day, but they aren’t necessarily working out in the apparel. Confused?
I don’t think the rise in athletic wear has yet to turn into a return to performance footwear, but with lighter weight options for shoes the lines are being blurred in casual and performance. If adidas saw a rise in performance running sales, was it because people are running more or was it because the shoes are fashionable and performance based, lightweight and casual? Is the UltraBOOST selling as performance or casual?
The lines are being crossed so much that I honestly don’t think the separation of performance from casual is really going to be so easily segmented anymore.
With that said, the introduction of a completely new technology in VaporMax will definitely inspire the market. The only problem I see is the 190 dollar pricepoint. I know that the UltraBOOST is 180. I also know that versions of all running company shoes are in the high end area, but flirting with a 190 pricepoint could leave a lot of people looking at more casual alternatives.
Will the VaporMax help to inspire a return to performance… yes, but the price is going to prevent people from really diving in. More important the shoe is AIR. Air is familiar. We’ve seen it in a number of incarnations and while it was exciting in the past, most people aren’t going to understand that this is the first time the air bubble is attached directly to the upper. Most people aren’t going to care that it’s lightweight. I think the shoe looks so good that people will give it a shot simply to try a new version of Air but ultimately this shoe could sit and it won’t be because it isn’t dope or a technical wonder or that it’s a performance shoe, it will be because it’s so familiar that the everyday person… the person most important in retail will view it as ho-hum another AIR Nike.