Saturday, February 7, 2009

END PERFORMANCE FOOTWEAR: AN ‘OUTSIDE’ COMPANY




ENVIRONMENTALLY NEUTRAL DESIGN CAPTURES THE ESSENCE AND THE ESSENTIALS OF WHAT WE NEED ON OUR FEET

OUTDOOR RETAILER MARKET, SALT LAKE CITY PALACE, UTAH

Words, images Judith Ecochard and from END.

With a whole bunch of marathons under our belt…and not a whole lot of cartilage left under our kneecaps, we are picky and paranoid when it comes to our running shoes. We demand our peds give us as much support, cushioning, shock absorption and stability as possible---so as to defer knee replacement surgery until some new scientific cure magically evolves to heal what ails us.







So yes, we were downright charmed by former Nike shoe designer Andrew Estey and his biz partner Ben Finklea -and their sincere green commitment to using sustainable/eco materials in their sneakers- like laces and webbings made from recycled soda bottles, outsoles made from 25% recycled materials “from one mold not the typical 6-8 pieces,” bamboo fibers in the linings, stripped down manufacturing processes using less energy and chemical substances like non-toxic glue, lighter sneakers that need 30-50% less materials PERIOD…and way less packaging too.





But if the shoes were not high performing with “great support, fit and material…” we would not be impressed or inspired to get a pair.

Well, bingo---we demoed the PDQ’s (END kickers have acronym names ie Pretty Darn Quick or the PBnJ très cute)…made specifically for women... and part of the Road Collection.

And it is now our sneaker of choice. Because the END gurus actually took into account a woman’s foot shape, unique body structure and running biomechanics…” in conjuring up ladies sneakers. Not the shrink it and pink it reality of much outdoor performance wear.

In fact, this is the first time a pair of running shoes actually fit rightfully snug around our ankles without an elaborate/deliberate lacing system ensuring a proper fit…because “we took a track and field inspired way to attack heel counter.” Amen.

Other lady shoes include a smart designed LOL (Laugh Out Loud) Water Collection shoe with drainage holes that lets women run through streams and on the beach without socks... and excess sloshing.

Guys get their own version of the aforementioned- the aptly coined WOW (Walk On Water) in a very urban hip black/red trim tones. A 10 oz. Stumptown sneaker-part of the Trail Collection- that’s ideal for runners with a neutral foot strike who like a soft, responsive shoe is also receiving positive retail nods. There’s a more supportive 12 oz. version too.




“We wanted to bring sustainability to the masses in footwear…and challenge the status ethos of too much technology that goes into making a comfy high performance running shoe,” Estey pointed out to us.




Stumptown 12 oz.


Well IMHO—END admirably succeeds.



INFO: Widely available at REIs, Zappos etc. Check out the END FOOTWEAR website for more store locations.