Last month, images of the seventh generation Nike Tiempo leaked online. Like with most leaks, full product details were scant. But one update stood out. For the first time in the silo’s illustrious history, the Nike Tiempo will feature Flyknit technology.
For the purists this change may be seen as an affront to the boot’s all-leather legacy. Yet the announcement is another step in the evolution of football boots from utilitarian tools to specialist instruments.
With Flyknit now firmly established across all four Nike silos, customisation from outer skin to sole plate now available through the Adidas Glitch and even Puma catching up with trends by releasing their first ever sock-fit, innovation in boots has clearly moved beyond seasonal colourway updates.
But in what direction could these innovations be leading the market?
Clear indications towards what the future might hold can be found in both Nike and Adidas’s most development missions: Nike Breaking2 and Adidas Parley.
Can a human being run 26 miles in under two hours? Nike thinks so. On Saturday May 6 at 5:45 a.m. in Monza, Italy, Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa set out to do just that.
While the three athletes did not quite break the record (with Kipchoge falling short by just 25 seconds) the event was still a success of technical innovation.
All three runners competed in the new Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite. Developments in the trainer included an internal gently curved carbon-fibre plate to minimise energy loss without causing cramping, a large 21mm of forefoot “stack height”, and a 9mm offset from heel to toe. Overall, the shoe’s build forces the runner into a more dynamic stance, ensuring the maximum energy return possible over distance, while maintaining a balance between lightness and speed.
With professional footballers now running distances of up to 12km per game, how long could it be before this kind of stance-focused speed efficiency set up makes its way into football boots?
At the other end of the spectrum are Adidas, who last year team with eco-charity Parley set abpit transforming marine plastic pollution into high performance sportswear.
Together, the two companies released a series of eco-friendly products which included the UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley running shoe.
The trainer was the first mass production footwear to be created using recycled ocean materials. The knitted upper made, laces, heel cap base material, heel webbing, heel lining and the sock-liner cover were all manufactured using Parley’s recovered plastic.
Adidas also produced two special edition Parley shirts for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. With the material already in use for the production of trainers, and Adidas eyeing an opportunity amongst eco-conscious football fans, how long could it before the world’s first recycled football boot is created?
Record breaking speed and eco-friendly production. Whatever the future of football boots might hold, world leading innovation will be at the core. Oh, and they won’t be black.