Flashback to ’96: The Birth of adidas Feet You Wear Technology

CEO Tam DT
In this latest edition of Flashback to ‘96, let's travel back to the birth of a groundbreaking technology in the sneaker universe. The year was 1996 when adidas introduced Feet You Wear technology - an...

adidas Feet You Wear Technology

In this latest edition of Flashback to ‘96, let's travel back to the birth of a groundbreaking technology in the sneaker universe. The year was 1996 when adidas introduced Feet You Wear technology - an innovative design principle that revolutionized the way we think about footwear. This Flashback will explore the development, key models, and the impact of the Feet You Wear line on the sneaker industry.

A Natural Idea

Feet You Wear technology Feet You Wear technology

Feet You Wear technology originated from the creative mind of Frampton Ellis, an independent inventor. Ellis observed how traditional footwear designs with squared-off soles often caused ankle rolls and reduced stability during movements. To address this issue, he developed a shoe that mimicked the natural curves and shape of the human foot. By creating a wider, lower-to-the-ground base with an organic curve, the shoe provided better stability for lateral movements. After shopping the technology around, adidas recognized its potential and debuted the first Feet You Wear models in 1996.

No Gimmicks Needed

Feet You Wear sneakers Feet You Wear sneakers

Unlike its competitors, adidas took a bold departure from flashy and gimmicky designs. The Feet You Wear sneakers showcased minimalist technology with bold, wavy lines and rounded shapes that stood out on the shelves. The unflashy technology with its unique design language caught the attention of sneaker enthusiasts. And let's not forget the cool little face logo that added an extra touch of appeal.

Enter Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant in adidas sneakers Kobe Bryant in adidas sneakers

The introduction of Feet You Wear perfectly aligned with the arrival of Kobe Bryant in the NBA, making him the ideal endorser for these new adidas sneakers. Even though Kobe played limited minutes in his rookie season with the Lakers, his jump from high school straight to the pros created a buzz around this young phenom. Kobe joined adidas even before being drafted, thanks to the influence of Sonny Vaccaro, a prominent figure in the basketball sneaker industry. With Kobe's explosive playing style, he soon became the face of adidas Basketball, wearing the Top Ten 2000, Top Ten 2010, and EQT Elevation during his rookie season.

Other Pros In Feet You Wear

Kobe Bryant may have been the headliner, but other notable athletes also embraced the Feet You Wear technology. Antoine Walker, another lottery pick of the '96 NBA Draft, showcased his skills on the court wearing adidas sneakers. In the NFL, Keyshawn Johnson, the first pick in the 1996 draft, became the face of Feet You Wear in the cross and turf training departments. The versatility of the technology extended to other sports as well, with women's tennis star Steffi Graf winning the 1996 U.S. Open in a Feet You Wear tennis model.

Original Commercials

Original Feet You Wear commercials Original Feet You Wear commercials

Experience the charm of the original Feet You Wear models in action through these vintage commercials featuring Kobe Bryant, Antoine Walker, and Keyshawn Johnson.

Feet You Wear’s Lasting Legacy

Unfortunately, licensing issues between Frampton Ellis and adidas led to the discontinuation of the Feet You Wear line in 2001. However, those five years of innovative sneakers marked a new era for adidas, particularly in the basketball category. Models like the Top Ten 2000, KB8, KB8 II, and Key Trainer became iconic classics that now enjoy a place in adidas' retro catalog. Moreover, the Feet You Wear technology had a significant impact on the entire athletic shoe industry. Its focus on natural motion and minimal design influenced other brands' approaches, leading to concepts like Nike's Free technology and Vibram's FiveFingers. The revolution that started in 1996 with Feet You Wear continues to shape the future of performance footwear.

Feet You Wear logo Feet You Wear logo

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