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Adidas reveals barefoot shoe for the gym

German sportswear brand adidas has unveiled the new 'adipure Trainer', the first barefoot training shoe designed specifically for the gym.

"A lot of engineering went into making your foot a high performance machine," said Mark Verstegen, founder of Athletes' Performance, which works with high-performance athletes and was a consultant to adidas in the design of the shoe. "To achieve your full potential during a workout, you should focus on how your foot interacts with the ground in the same way you think about how your hands interact with a stick, ball or a bat. Using your foot's natural power and movement will help you strengthen muscles you never knew you had in your feet, lower legs and throughout your core."

Adidas claims its new shoe "activates and strengthens muscles, builds balance and promotes dexterity". It has an independent toe separation design and a minimalistic profile, allowing the foot to be close to the ground for optimal speed, balance and agility during  workout.

The company plans to launch its new 'Strength & Conditioning' program featuring the adipure Trainer and a complete line of training footwear and apparel. As part of the program, adidas has signed on Canadian ice hockey player Mike Cammalleri to promote the line in an integrated marketing campaign that begins 30 January, 2012 and runs through the month of February.

"We're excited to have Mike Cammalleri on our team because of his passion and commitment to training for his sport," said Jeff Cooper, director, marketing communications for adidas Canada. "To compete at the highest level, you have to make each workout count. No matter what your sport may be, the adipure Trainer will help you prepare and ultimately perform better."

"When adidas approached me, naturally I was flattered and I quickly realized how this new shoe could help me when I train," said Mr Cammalleri. "The NHL season is a long one and you're constantly in the gym trying to stay at peak performance or rehabbing the bumps and bruises you get along the way. The adipure Trainer has helped me recover faster because the muscles in my legs and feet are getting a more intense workout. My balance is better and my legs feel stronger."


361 Degrees to capitalise on child-market growth potential

Chinese sports brand 361 Degrees has said it will open 500 to 600 new stores in 2012, specialising in children’s shoes and apparel.

General manager of children’s product for the brand, Chen Zhicheng, explained on making the announcement that 75% of children’s shoes and clothes sold in China at the moment are non-branded, meaning there is great room for growth in the market.

Shoes helped reduce diabetic amputations in past decade

Enhanced foot care and Medicare coverage for therapeutic shoes are two factors behind a recent US government study that showed diabetes-related amputations in the country have declined 65% over the past decade.

"It's no coincidence that the decline in foot amputations coincides with the establishment of Medicare coverage for therapeutic shoes – that was precisely the intent of that legislation in 1993," said Dennis Janisse, C.Ped, director of Scientific Affairs at Orthofeet. "The study findings validate our mission to provide biomechanically designed shoes that offer advanced protection and mobility to improve quality of life among adults with diabetes."

The study was conducted by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in the February issue of Diabetes Care. Researchers found foot and leg amputations dropped from 11 to 4 out of every 1,000 adults with diabetes over the period 1996 – 2008. The statistic is even more dramatic considering the number of people with diabetes more than tripled in the same period.   

CDC researchers noted several factors behind the decline, including improvements in blood sugar control, diabetes management and foot care. In fact, the researchers noted an increase in the proportion of adults with diabetes who received annual foot exams during the study period.

According to Mr Janisse, clinical studies indicate a correlation between early preventative care and the use of therapeutic footwear in preventing foot ulcers and, consequently, more serious conditions including amputations. He recommends adults with diabetes check their feet daily for warning signs including loss of sensation, sores or any kind of injury. Mr Janisse also advises they talk with a healthcare provider about the benefits of specialty footwear to minimize injury, protect feet and allow proper blood flow.

"Adults with diabetes will always be at higher risk for nerve damage and foot ulcers than those without the disease," said Mr Janisse. "The message from this landmark study is clear – proactive foot care and protective therapeutic footwear are important components of a comprehensive health, diet and lifestyle plan to help prevent amputations and other complications related to this chronic condition."

Fila resurrects Trailblazer shoe

Sports brand Fila has announced a product collaboration with specialist retailers in the UK and Sweden to bring back a product that brought the brand big success in the 1990s.

London-based athletic footwear retailer Footpatrol, and Swedish retailer Sneakers and Stuff have agreed to stock Fila’s Trailblazer shoe. Fila says it has worked with its retail partners to “remix the style while keeping true to the century of design wisdom that went into its original form”.

Footpatrol’s general manager, John Brotherhood, said at the time of the announcement: “With the current outdoor-influenced product trends, the Trailblazer, which was designed in the foothills of the Italian Alps, was the obvious choice for Footpatrol’s collaboration with Fila. We look forward to introducing this co-branded Trailblazer collection to our sneaker fraternity.”

Available in two limited-edition guises, the first style, the OG Trailblazer, has a suede upper that is representative of the original. Available in black or red, the midsole includes the Fila logo, hiking D-Ring lace hooks for cord style laces, tonal stitching and the Fila Mountain logo stitched on the mesh tongue.

The second style, the Trailblazer AM, named after the Apennine Mountains in Italy, is a hybrid of the original using the same silhouette but with the addition of an outdoor sole “for an updated twist”. This style, available in tan or navy, includes a brand new blown rubber outsole, tan leather beading, premium smooth nubuck upper, subtle Footpatrol branding on the inner heel and some slight adjustments to the profile.

The limited-edition collection made its debut on January 28 at Footpatrol’s Berwick Street location in London’s Soho district during a special launch event. In Sweden, Sneakers and Stuff will carry the Trailblazer at its Malmo and Stockholm stores. Limited quantities of both styles will also be available for US customers from April from the Fila website.

Now Korean-owned, Fila celebrated in 2011 a century since the founding of the brand in Italy.

Spanish brands happy to repeat Tokyo exercise

Twelve Spanish footwear brands have travelled to Japan to take part in a special promotional event.

Shoes from Spain, which this year takes place in Tokyo on February 1 and 2, is a repeat of a similar exercise that the Spanish National Footwear Industry Federation (FICE) has run in previous years, with the help of the country’s export promotion agency, ICEX, and the commercial section of its embassy in Japan. The 2011 edition attracted 600 visitors.

Figures from FICE show that Japan was the twelfth-biggest buyer of Spanish-made shoes last year, with brands exporting one million pairs with a combined value of EUR 27.1 million in the course of 2011. This represents growth of 47% in volume and of 36% in value.

Finish Line appoints VP of digital marketing

US sports apparel and footwear brand The Finish Line has announced that Jay Custard has joined the company as vice president of digital marketing. Mr Custard’s responsibilities include leading and directing corporate strategies involving digital customer acquisition, retention and superior customer satisfaction, as well as developing new strategies to support future growth.

He comes to Finish Line following four years with Crocs, where he most recently served as vice president of global e-commerce.

“Jay’s appointment is key to driving long-term growth for The Finish Line through aggressive expansion of our digital business,” said Chris Ladd, Finish Line executive vice president and chief digital officer. “Digital growth is essential as our company continues to execute an omni-channel strategy where customers must have a consistently great brand experience as they interact with us through all channels, including our stores, digital, mobile and social media. Jay’s expertise and insights are critical to pursuing this strategy and resulting digital growth.”

Leather footwear centre opens in Hyderabad

The Hyderabad Leather Footwear Centre (HLFC) was inaugurated in India on 26 January, 2012, to promote the production of leather shoes locally and to discourage imports of footwear.

The representatives of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), Sindh Small Industries Corporation (SSCI) and Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI), jointly performed the inauguration.

General manager of SMEDA, Muslim Raza, said that Pakistan needs 40 million shoes and sandals per year. Most of the local demand is currently met through imports from China, Mr Raza said.

“The local people have skills and experience of manufacturing quality footwear and they only needed to be equipped with the proper equipment to be able to produce the good in the required numbers,” he said.

Mr Raza said the HLFC was equipped with machinery for manufacturing shoes and hand-made small footwear manufacturing units for training the staff.

Senior vice president of HCCI, Turab Ali Khoja, said that the business community was happy on the revival of footwear industry in Hyderabad after almost two decades. “It is an old industry of Hyderabad but attention was not given to its development earlier,” he said.

The program was attended by Muhammad Junaid, project manager at HLFC, Zeeshan Ahmed, project director at HLFC, Syed Yawar Ali Shah and Adnan Khan, members board of directors at HLFC, Abdul Saleem Arain, vice president of HCCI and other businessmen.

Hollywood star designs for Deichmann

Hollywood star Halle Berry is to design her own shoe collection for Deichmann Shoes, Europe’s largest shoe retailer.

A collection called Fifth Avenue by Halle Berry will go on sale across the Deichmann group in March and, among a surprisingly high total of 40 footwear models, will feature peep toe wedges, high-heeled strappy sandals and vintage slingback wedges.

Ms Berry will also feature in TV advertising and appear in in-store point of sale advertising. In the commercial, Ms Berry gets so caught up in the shoes and changes of outfit in her dressing room that she is late on a film set.

Of the collection, the film star says: “I think every woman would like to be involved in creating a shoe collection. My Fifth Avenue shoes can easily be worn by every woman.”

Heinrich Deichmann, owner of the shoe company, said on announcing the new collection: "We are very pleased that Halle Berry is our new partner. She is an internationally renowned artist and a global style icon.”

In the past, Deichmann has collaborated on shoe collections with the Pussycat Dolls, the Sugababes and most recently Cindy Crawford.