Fashion

Finally, Nike Has a Worthy Answer to Adidas’ Boost

Energy return is the name of the game.
IMAGE Nike
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It’s been about three years since Adidas first launched the Ultra Boost—a game-changing sneaker equipped with game-changing footwear technology—and finally, it seems like Nike has a worthy response.

In 2015, Adidas touted the Ultra Boost as “The Greatest Running Shoe Ever”—a bold claim by the Three Stripes for what was then (and is still) their flagship running model. But it turned out to be closer to the truth than expected, as the Ultra Boost went on to become one of the key factors for the brand’s dominance in the years that followed, both culturally and in terms of market share.

Last year, Adidas overtook Jordan Brand for the number two spot in U.S. sneaker sales—a leap that was mainly ascribed to three things: Adidas' partnership with Kanye West, the resurgence of Adidas Originals, and of course, the Ultra Boost (ESPN’s Darren Rovell drove that point home in a Twitter poll). Suffice it to say that the German brand owes a lot of its considerable success in recent years to Boost technology.

All the while, Nike was releasing its own running tech, never meeting Boost head-on. The Swoosh continued to develop their Flyknit and Lunar technologies, which both converged in the LunarEpic in 2016. They also came out with the Vapormax, a fashionable, new-school variant of Air Max Air Unit, and the performance-oriented VaporFly in 2017. All were fairly successful by their own standards, but none were enough match the wider cultural impact of Boost.

But after years of avoiding a showdown, Nike finally gave in. They’ve introduced the Nike Epic React as this year’s big running tech innovation. The sole is made of a new, proprietary foam material, and designed to give maximum energy return—the very same propositions that Boost technology was built on.

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The design principles applied in creating Boost sneakers made them excellent running shoes, but also sold them as extremely comfortable lifestyle sneakers to a broader market. Seeing as Nike has just designed a direct competitor to Boost using the same principles, it’s reasonable to expect the same from the Epic React. The Nike sneaker also bears the same curvy, sleek silhouette that made the Ultra Boost a stylish choice, so it’s even clearer that the Swoosh is trying to give the Three Stripes a run for their money. In an interview with Highsnobiety, Nike designer Brett Schoolmeester even made direct comparisons to Boost tech, saying that React soles were about 30 percent lighter than Boost soles.

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Whether or not the Nike Epic React can achieve or outdo the significance and success of the Adidas Ultra Boost will be determined after its release in late February, but as early as now, all eyes are fixed on Nike’s next big bet.

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The Nike Epic React Flyknit will be available in select Nike retailers on February 22.

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Miguel Escobar
Assistant Features Editor for Esquire Philippines
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