There is some truth in the talk of Nike going soft. Its latest running-shoe technology, Epic React, is 11 per cent softer than that employed in its game-changing LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2, not to mention 13 per cent bouncier (yes, there clearly is a quantifiable way of measuring these things). But given that the wider world’s first engagement with this new sole revolution came in the form of the React Element 87, it’s clear that the sportswear superbrand is not just ahead of the curve, but way out in front.
The React Element 87, and therefore this new cushioning system, was first unveiled not by Nike itself, but at Undercover’s AW18 show in Paris earlier this year. The cult Japanese streetwear label – a long-time collaborator with Nike – produced its own take on the shoe, which sold out instantly when it finally dropped last month. This, the mainline version, shares much of the DNA, notably game use of technical fabrics and bleeding-edge design.
And despite the deployment of the new super-soft hardware, this sneaker isn’t even technically a running shoe. Instead, the technology has been “optimised for the urban commute”. “Proof,” says Nike “that innovation can walk before it runs.”