In recent years, we have been treated to many top quality boot releases. But, for every good story, there is one that sheds light on some of the not so good parts of the market. In some cases, that might be a defective boot or just a bad decision made by a particular brand.
Here, we spend some time talking about the good, the bad and ugly of the boot market; 5 Places Where Brands Got It Right and 5 Places Where Brands Got It Wrong!
GOT IT RIGHT – New Balance Tekela + Furon
Although New Balance struggled with releases at the beginning, they stuck to a plan while listening to fan/player feedback. What they now have developed is some of the most competitive boots in the game. I was very critical of New Balance when they released their first generation Furon and Visaro boots, right as they transitioned over from Warrior Sports. I remember questioning who in their right mind could approve such stiff and rigid boot.
NB stayed the course and are now a legitimate market player with Tekela and Furon. Both are top performing boot options that I regularly find myself recommending to players in need of something a little different.
GOT IT WRONG: Pele Sports + Lifestyle Gear
Talk about a brand that sat right on the cusp of breaking into the top tier, yet fell short right as they were ready to strike. We had regular conversations with the Pele Sports team about their products and the direction they were headed. With boots like the SheOne, they showed an ability to be different. Better yet, they were receptive to feedback, making some huge modifications that took the brand in a continuing positive direction. But, boot sales slowed and financial backing disappeared. Our final piece of advice was to focus more on the performance/fashion side of the market. They produced some really, really slick gear and could easily have taken over that side of the market.
GOT IT RIGHT: Mizuno MIJ
For most soccer aficionados, the words Mizuno and “Made in Japan” brings an immediate rush of high-octane energy. It is the type of boot that makes you as giddy as a school girl, squealing with joy as you open the box for the first time. Boots that are placed on a last for 24 hours, stretching out that fine leather so it offers a broken-in fit right from your very first wear. Yes, they might have been missing from the US market for several years, but Mizuno brought them back with a bang, and several options are now available to players with different playing needs.
GOT IT WRONG: adidas Line-Up Retired
This one caught everyone off guard and left a lot of folk asking “Why?” Back in 2015, the Predator, adiPure, Nitrocharge and f50 silos were retired and the X and ACE were born. adidas spent a lot of time evaluating the risky decision, ultimately deciding that they needed a fresh new approach. Fans didn’t quite see it the same way. And if you look at those original X and ACE releases, they don’t resemble anything currently available on the market. In fact, the failure of the new releases led to the re-release of the Predator and a Copa that has the flavor of an adiPure release. Short term, it got a lot of attention. Long term, it wasn’t a good look for adidas.
GOT IT RIGHT: adidas Predator Returns
This was a move that was absolutely needed and delivered at the right time. With power boots seemingly eliminated from the market, adidas decided to reintroduce a hybrid style power boot in the form of Predator 18+. Many questioned whether it was even a boot that fell into the power category, but honestly who cared! What is it that has continually fueled the Predator range? Answer: Innovation. adidas create designs that think outside the box and take advantage of Predator angles. This boot was no different featuring a Controlskin upper, with plenty of raised texturing through the forefoot. It was not your typical added rubber element to enhance power while striking the ball. Instead, the material was grafted in a tiered design, providing additional control via a very flexible feeling material. It worked and provided players with a different type of feel on the ball.
GOT IT WRONG: Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly
Released with a $300 price tag over 10 years ago, the Mercurial Vapor Superfly is probably the most over rated boot release ever. The Superfly and its Flywire upper was rigid and very uncomfortable, while a pair of weird retractable front stud/claws offered little value in play. It just didn’t sit well on foot and didn’t match up to their inflated price tag. Nike even pulled them from the market for a while, as they looked to modify the design. Ultimately, they did make some minor improvements but the original versions will always be remembered as boots that shouldn’t have been released.
GOT IT RIGHT: Nike CR7 Signature Boots
Where Nike has got it right is in the custom releases they have created for Cristiano Ronaldo. If the battle of boots was to determine the GOAT debate between Messi and Ronaldo, CR7 would win hands down. His story told through boots was a real highlight, with Nike using the Superfly canvas and their creativity to deliver some memorable boots. Each version received a whole ton of media coverage, with every news source sharing info and images of the designs. If you like to buy stocks, a few days before a CR7 release is always a good time to invest in Nike! The latest CR7 Safari is a prime example of how well they have done with his signature releases.
GOT IT WRONG: Too Many Limited Edition
I remember back in 2012 when the Nike GS (Green Speed) was released, we wondered if it would be the beginning of a new of limited edition releases. And as it turns out, it definitely was. But, the problem is brands quickly started to grasp on to the fact a “limited edition” release led to a rush of orders, with some people taking advantage by snapping up pairs to resell at incredibly inflated prices online. We are talking about boots being purchased at the 9am release time for $300, then finding their way on to eBay for $600 by lunch time. So, rather than the true fans who really wanted pairs to wear and showcase on pitch getting them, they found their way to a bunch of dickheads (excuse my language) trying to take advantage of players that really wanted them.
GOT IT RIGHT: Nike “Black History Month” Releases
Nike delivered three incredibly sharp limited edition Black History Month (BHM) boot releases in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Honestly, I’ve no idea why the random years and why we haven’t had one in the two years since. But, each release was positively received and appreciated by fans, with a BHM message shared alongside each introduction to the market. Personally, I’d love to see more releases like this offered to fans, with an important message or story attached.
GOT IT WRONG: Over Complicated Releases
This final one is a shout out to all brands out there. Whether it is a “shot shield”, a piece of bulky rubber across the forefoot or a weird stud patterns, we don’t need your overly complicated gimmicks on our boots. Quit trying to create something that will shock the market. Instead, go with quality materials and a comfortable fit. Maybe add a splash of color or an energetic pattern if you want to stand out from the crowd. Remember, comfort is king, give me something I like wearing, and I might buy more pairs of them.