Monday, September 15, 2008

I Just Need them for a Run, Not an Expedition to the Moon

I remember as a teen being excited about buying new gym shoes--namely those endorsed by one Michael Jeffrey Jordan. At that time, gym shoe designs were already part of pop culture, inspiring several creative and unique shoe designs. People got excited about buying a new pair of gym shoes and anticipated the release of subsequent designs.

But have you tried to buy a pair of gym shoes today? The experience is quite different and it's quite apparent that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong with gym shoe design during the last five to ten years.

That's because gym shoes are looking less and less like they are being designed for a game of hoops or jog on the treadmill and more and more like hi-tech, shiny and bubbly moon boots made for a trip to outer space. Colors to choose from back then were from your basic color palette: red, blue, black, grey, white, brown, etc.

Today's shoes use fabrics that mimic the appearance of aluminum foil and gold. Combine that metallic fabric with a few LED lights that light up upon every step you take, you have a shoe that looks like a cheesy robot from a 60's television show. What's next? A shoe that yells "DANGER! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!" with every step? Or perhaps shoes that are endorsed by the Jetsons?

It makes shoe shopping quite difficult because the shiny, sparkling, swooping kicks overwhelm anything else you are wearing. Have a nice pair of Adidas track pants on? Can't tell because your shoes are currently shooting laser beams into my eyes.

And here's some clever marketing for you: now every part of gym shoes are labeled with some faux hi-tech term. Don't believe me? Take a look at the soles of your gym shoes. You'll see things that are labeled with terms like "super torsion grip bar" or "flex system dual core abrasion bridge." You know what are some better names for those items: rubber, plastic or cloth.

So, please, gym shoe makers, stop making all of your gym shoes look like they came from the prop department of original Star Trek series. How about something simple, understated and less labeled? I think you'll find that people prefer shoes that look like shoes.

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