The second I sunk into the big white throne on the stage and slipped my feet into the too-big, size 10 tester model, I knew Nike’s self-lacing EARL (Electro Adaptive Reactive Lacing) sneakers were something special. The buzziest launch of the week, they’re beyond special, they’re next level cool.
Launched at Nike’s Innovation Summit in NYC (along with the cloud-like Max Air running shoe and the upgraded Nike+ app features), the designer told me this sneaker was 10 years in the making. It actually took that long for motor and battery technology to shrink down enough to fit into the sole and catch up to Nike’s vision from way back when. Inspired by Back To The Future (couldn’t you see Marty rocking these?) and Wall-E (scope out the treads and you’ll see why), the big deal is that as soon as you stand up, a sensor in the sole automatically lights up electric blue and makes the laces tighten so you don’t have to. It felt like a warm hug for my feet. Finally, a world where you never have to bend down to tie your shoes is here! It sounds like the ultimate in laziness (and weird for an athletic gear brand), but the real reason is that you can adjust them depending on your activity and the changes in your feet as you go. Adaptive and reactive (like their name suggests), they’re designed to make you a better athlete. Think looser when you’re sitting on the bench but tighter when you’re running full speed and need lots of support. I played with the plus and minus buttons on each shoe to see just how tight they could go (it can get pretty tight), but coming down the pipe are pairs that will adjust automatically to changes in your feet and gait.
Even though I’m not “sport girl,” I’m happy for any extra advantage I can get when I do actually lace up my runners. I’ll be first in line when they drop this October just in time for the holidays.