At PressCamp the other week, many of the footwear brands we spoke to were getting ready to launch shoes with Michelin outsoles. Under Armour was one of the first to market with their Fat Tire shoe last season, but now brands such as AKU, Hi-Tec and even Millet have joined forces with Michelin.
Tires and shoes share the same vocabulary: footprint, sole, tread, rolling, stability, rubber, and fabric. So, taking advantage of their technological expertise in tires, Michelin created the Michelin Soles brand to OEM to footwear manufacturers licensed under JV International.
One of the most exciting partnerships is with Millet and the introduction of their first trail running shoe for Spring ’17. Similar to Arc’teryx, Millet’s move into trail running makes sense as many of their climbing athletes cross train through mountain running and the sport itself is growing rapidly.
Millet’s Alpine Rush LTK ($170) features the new Michelin Mont Blanc technical sole developed using the company’s motocross and cyclocross tires as the starting point. Designed for ultra races such as the UTMB, the Alpine Rush LTK offers excellent traction, support and comfort, while constantly adapting to changing terrain. The upper is made from a combination of nylon and kevlar with a water-repellent PU treatment, ensuring that it both allows your foot to breathe and keeps out moisture. The dual density EVA semi oversize midsole provides a comfortable ride while reducing fatigue and risk of injuries.
AKU’s new multi-terrain shoes, the Montera and La Val (pictured above) collections, feature a Michelin Pulsar sole, inspired from the company’s line of mountain bike tires. The Pulsar outsoles follow AKU’s Elica system where the anatomical shape of the sole adapts to your normal heel and forefoot inclination in order to reduce impact and strain. For example, since you are prone to toe-off rolling over to your big toe, the Michelin Pulsar outsole features elongated lugs that protrude outward in this area to increase lateral support and grip. And the asymmetric shape of the heel follows your foot’s inclination to hit on the outside first with elongated lugs to increase stability.
Hi-Tec has gone in big with Michelin, featuring the tire brand’s technical outsoles in a variety of the performance hiking models including the Altitude OX ($130), Trail OX ($100-$110), and OX Belmont ($110) to be released this fall. OX stands for outdoor crossover, these waterproof boots work just as well and look just as good in the city as well as on the trail.
Expect to see more Michelin partnerships coming out of Outdoor Retailer next month.