On Wednesday, Brooks announced that its customizable running shoe will hit shelves in early 2019 with a limited run of 1,914 pairs. (Brooks was founded in 1914.)
The shoe, called the Genesys, is the result of a partnership between Brooks, HP, and Superfeet. Customization begins with the HP FitStation, which analyzes gait and joint movements as customers run on a treadmill, captures 3-D foot scans, and measures foot pressure via a sensor-equipped mat. FitStations will be located in select retailers, with sales associates performing the scans and asking customers about their preferences. According to Brooks, “The resulting data will be translated into specific fit and feel requirements,” and the shoes assembled in a new factory in Ferndale, Washington, using an injection-molding process.
The Genesys is reminiscent of another custom running shoe, Salomon’s Mesh, launched in Europe last year. The Mesh also begins with biomechanical analysis, and the data is used to optimize selection from among a fixed set of midsole, outsole, and heel-toe drop specifications. Solomon’s shoes are pricey, ranging from $250 to $327, and currently available only in Europe. (The company is considering bringing them to the U.S. later this year.)
According to Brooks, what sets its program apart is the level of customization. Instead of a shoe pieced together from a limited number of specs, customers receive a midsole and last molded to their unique shape and movement. Zones in the midsole are injected with varying densities of polyurethane based on pressure distribution through the foot and joints. Brooks has yet to release the price of the Genesys but says, “Our goal is to make our personalized footwear as accessible as possible.” To that end, according to the company, the fit process should take only a few minutes.
We haven’t been able to test a pair yet to determine how much of a difference customization makes compared with Brooks’s off-the-shelf models. In theory, a pair of shoes custom-designed for your foot shape and movement pattern could be a game changer, especially for injury-prone runners faced with limited choices that meet their needs.