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Nike's Self-Lacing Shoes Are Here, But They're Not What You Expect
By: Fast Company
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At its "Innovation for Everyone" event today in New York, Nike unveiled high-performance footwear and apparel for athletes, a fleet of items for consumers, and more features on its Nike+ app. But the one thing that had everyone—okay, mostly sneakerheads—salivating was the rumored public launch of the self-lacing high tops inspired by what Marty McFly wore in Back to the Future II. Good news first: self-tightening laces are here with the launch of the Nike Hyperadapt sneakers. Bad news: they're not quite what Back to the Future die-hards want to see. Rather than releasing faithful replicas of Marty McFly's bad-ass self-lacing high tops, Nike debuted performance sneakers that speak to the coming wave of adaptive apparel and take aim squarely at athletes.

Nike has teased fans for years with limited-edition sneakers and sly hints that a retail edition of the self-lacing shoes might finally come to market. Considering all the build up, the Hyperadapt was kind of a let down. One of my coworkers called the white version of the sneaker—which also comes in black and gray colorways—geriatric.

The saga really began over 30 years ago when Tinker Hatfield—Nike’s Vice President for Design and Special Projects and the creative visionary behind the Air Jordan and countless other shoes—was invited to create sneakers for Back to the Future II. They debuted in the 1989 movie when McFly travels to 2015, steps out of a DeLorean and into a pair of high tops that lace themselves. In 2009, Nike filed a patent for self-lacing shoes that were dead ringers for the ones McFly wore. In 2011, the brand revealed the Mag sneakers' design (without power laces). Only 150 limited-edition pairs were made, fetching almost $1 million for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. In 2014, Hatfield hinted that a retail edition was underway.

Hatfield says Nike has been working on the shoe for 10 years and what happened in the past decade was the technology of motors and ultra-efficient power sources advanced enough to make this type of lace possible. (Nike dubs it "Electro Adaptive Reactive Lacing," or EARL for short.) At the same time, Nike developed Flyknit, a technique for knitting shoes like socks. That made self-tightening laces possible, because Flyknit fabric has more give than traditional shoe materials.

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This article was published on Fast Company. A link to the original piece appears after the post. www.fastcompany.com
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