In the running: Japanese students flaunt fleet footwear
Shinsoku Sports Sneakers have got sole... and their soles are their biggest selling point. Check 'em out - each shoe has extra rubber grips on the right side. The reason for this unusual asymmetric setup is plain to see when watching runners race counterclockwise on a typical oval track: all of the turning is to the left, which means centripetal force pushes runners to the right. The extra support along the right edge of each shoe helps runners maintain higher speed and better balance through the turns.
The innovative new running shoes are made by Achilles , a Tokyo-based sportswear manufacturer who have sold over 10 million pairs of Shinsoku sneakers since 2003. Mainly thanks to word-of-mouth advertising, sales have more than doubled annually with 4.5 million pairs of youth running shoes sold in the most recent business year ending in March 2008.
"Our product concept was to help fast runners run faster, and to give dreams to those who cannot," says Yutaka Tsubata, a senior manager of Achilles' product planning development. "It is every kids' dream to be a hero on sports day."
Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that about half of all elementary school students in Japan now wear Shinsoku sports shoes, a heady stat considering the fragmented state of today's sports shoe market.
Though at present Shinsoku (Japanese for "Nimble Feet") athletic shoes are only available in children's & youth sizes and styles, Achilles plans to introduce an adult line in 2009. Seems they're off to a running start. (via Reuters)