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Nike’s New Running Tech: A High-Top, Sock-Like Hybrid

Inspired by soccer cleats, Nike takes on the traditional running shoe.

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In March 2014, a few months before the last World Cup, Nike’s soccer division did something radical and revealed a new cleat called the Magista Obra, adorned with a raised collar made from Nike’s Flyknit fabric. It was sleek, it was different, and it was weird. To the casual observer, it looked like a sock — one that cost hundreds of dollars.

The idea was to design a shoe “that feels like an extension of the player’s body,” said Phil McCartney, Nike’s VP of sport performance footwear, in a press release upon the cleat’s debut. The move was strategically timed to align with the upcoming tournament, and it paid off. In the closing minutes of the World Cup final, German striker Mario Götze scored the only goal of the game and photos of his celebration splashed across the internet; he was wearing Nike’s new high-top cleats, the design of which has since become a mainstay on pitches around the world, and adapted by Adidas.

Today, that same innovative technology arrives for a larger community of athletes as Nike debuts its latest runner, the LunarEpic Flyknit. From afar, it’s easy to distinguish one of the shoe’s two main singularities: the raised collar. The entire upper is constructed as one piece, designed to unify the ankle and the foot during stride, with higher-density support around the midsection of the foot and a thinner build around the toes for breathability.

The shoe is also outfitted with a pressure-mapped outsole, resembling pods, which distribute the impact of the foot, and also provide traction. Together, says Kathy Gomez, Vice President of Global Nike Running Footwear, the collar and the outsole are designed for a singular purpose: to cut out the sensation of transition. To put it simply, it should feel “like running on a bed of pines,” she says.

The men’s LunarEpic Flyknit is available online in eight colorways, including green, blue and high-vis yellow. The launch is also coupled with a blacked-out version of the LunarEpic, sold exclusively at NikeLab retail locations for the same price.

Buy Now: $175

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