Over the past eight years, American running brand Tracksmith has built a reputation for high-quality, vintage-inspired running apparel. Now, in a surprising but intriguing move, it’s branching out into high-performance footwear.
The shoe, which Tracksmith calls Eliot Runner, uses Pebax foam to provide what the American firm says is “the perfect balance of cushioning and responsiveness with a classic aesthetic that blazes a new trail for performance footwear.”
“Our goal has always been to design products for the specific needs of the committed runner,” said Matt Taylor, Founder and CEO. “Although we started the brand with apparel, shoes have always been a strategic priority given the important role they play in a runner’s daily life. We have worked for several years to develop a trainer of all days that would meet the fundamental needs of this athlete: versatile performance over a range of speeds and surfaces, with the perfect blend of cushioning and responsiveness.We focused on every detail, adjusting and refining the composition of raw materials , to create an underfoot feel that runners will love.
Designed entirely in-house by the Tracksmith team, they describe the shoe as very responsive, but with a design for a “wider range of runners and paces”, while the rubber outsole is designed to ensure the longevity of the product – as you’d expect with a £195/$198 tag price. It offers a neutral ride and is said to be suitable for everything from easy runs to tempo – something The runner’s world will of course test when we can.
The brand prides itself on using high quality materials, and this has also been bought into the design of the shoe, particularly in the use of the now standard Pebax foam. Originally used only in carbon fiber veneer running shoes, the super lightweight foam combines softness and springiness that revolutionized running shoes. Some sports scientists even suggest that it’s foam more than plate – or at least a combination of the two – that gives the next generation of running shoes their speed.
In addition to the Pebax, the Tracksmith shoe has what they call a thicker internal footbed instead of the standard thin insole. The combination of the two is said to give the shoe its super responsive ride.
The shoe’s name is inspired by the brand’s Boston origins – the hare pattern that adorns all of Tracksmith’s clothing is called Eliot, which in turn refers to both the Eliot lounge in Boston, a legendary runners and at the Eliot Bridge Loop, a popular running route in the city.
While the move to footwear might seem like a bold move for a company with no experience in shoe design, it’s no surprise that a company is hoping for a share of the $127 billion global athletic shoe market. And in recent years, new brands like On and Altra have started to take a small but significant market share, as demand for running shoes shows no signs of slowing down.
This week Tracksmith is opening its first store in London, first as a pop-up during the London Marathon period and then permanently from November. The shoe, meanwhile, initially has a limited run, and while it won’t be in stock until November, it’s already available for pre-order.