As an athlete, avid footwear aficionado and designer, I love the personal crossroads provided to me by athletic footwear. I have long been paying attention to the design & marketing moves being made by would-be athletic apparel "next in line" Under Armor. While they are proven in the realm of base level athletic apparel (hence the very name), their footwear offerings have been less than stellar since they began moving into the territory of larger brands Nike, Adidas & Puma. They may be onto something with the latest round of design & concepts, but what they may have figured out is how to be a better marketing company this time, with the re-introduction of the "SpeedForm" platform.
The recently released SpeedForm "Apollo" has gotten a good chunk of publicity and primetime commercial real estate in television adverts. So if it's new, why do I say re-intro? The reason is that UA actually released a shoe last year to critical acclaim, but extremely weak marketing push. The technology was advanced and quite unique; a seamless fit upper, created in a revamped bra factory to borrow the fit-to-form comfort that ladies find crucial in their most critical of undergarments—sounds interesting and compelling to me. But the story was weak, scant in information and a bit over-confident in thinking that the tech was so good that the public would just notice it all by themselves. The initial shoe was called the SpeedForm "RC" and was met with mediocre reception. Fast-forward a year later, the SpeedForm "Apollo" has a big budget launch, tons of information and even so-called advanced feature upgrades from the "RC"—though I can only find two minor enhancements of sliver of medial plastic said to slow pronation and a few added rubber pads on the outsole.
In my estimation, the biggest update was a sensational rip from the pages of Nike lore. Build a story about tech advancement, put them on a sleek, good-looking body and add a little bit of flare in packaging & media delivery and you've got yourself a "totally new shoe" that's already a year old really. How fun is marketing, kids?! But the truth is, they do have something going here. The tech is actually good. The footwear meant for fast workouts and race running, performs well in a gym environment. The curb-appeal ain't too bad, either.