I personally think that one of the things that some running brands could do a little more of, is talking about their heritage and the reason they do what they do. This is part of what we believe in at Freestak and it comes from a feeling that often people don’t just by what a brand produces it, that buy why they produce it. People engage with brands that have a story and tell that story as well as possible.
The Saucony Pop-Up Shop
So it was great to be invited to a pop-up shop that Saucony have set up in Covent Garden for a look around and to be fitted out with a pair of their new Kinvara 5 in a special, limited-edition London livery.
The shop is not huge but what they pack in there is really impressive. Broadly it is divided between performance on the left as you enter and lifestyle – in the form of their Originals range – on the right. But the two sides of Saucony’s offering merge into one huge run-fest in a shop that is really dedicated to our sport.
One of the most striking things about the shop is a case on one wall that contains shoes from throughout the years – leather-soled track spikes from the days when sprinters dug out their own footholes in the cinder tracks with trowels that they carried to each race all the way through the earliest EVA-soled running shoes, via the monsterous, built up trainers of the ’80s and ’90s to the latest innovations in running footwear. Interestingly some of the oldest Saucony shoes display a three-stripes logo that was dropped in favour of the swirl with three dots that now graces Saucony shoes. That three strip logo was later adopted by another famous running brand…
History informing the future
There is history here for sure, but as Jonathan Quint, European Marketing Manager for Saucony explained to us, it is all about development towards the ultimate running shoes. In recent years Saucony has looked deeply into the trend for minimalist footwear and even barefoot running to try to figure out what nothingness can offer runners and how those benefits can be incorporated into their shoes. That is why Saucony introduced shoes with a smaller heel-to-toe offset (or differential) of 4mm like the Kinvara 5 and now are bringing that lower-profile sole into many of their shoes.
At the event to talk about how the Saucony innovations impact on runners, was their in-house coaching ambassador Nick Anderson from RunningWithUs. He talked extensively about how to adapt to shoes with a smaller differential and why running in a shoe like the Kinvara 5 is so good for us, albeit only is the runner adapts slowly to the extra pressure that the calf and achilles comes under. That is worthy of a blog post all of it’s own and I will try to get Nick to go on record and tell me more about that in a future piece.
Style and performance
But back to the pop-up shop. I really enjoyed the opportunity to find out more about Saucony. It was clear that the whole company, from designers to marketers and from coaches to sponsored athletes pour a huge amount of effort into trying to make shoes that help runners become better. They are clearly not a brand that jumps on fads and – notwithstanding the Hattori that I believe they have discontinued – that have taken a very considered approach to the trend towards minimalism. I think that Saucony is a brand that can really be trusted and it is only by seeing all the years of development and research that you really get that message.
So if you have a chance to pop in to the pop-up, I recommend it. You will probably also end up drooling over the very smart looking Kinvara 5 London edition and the Saucony Originals on display – I know I did and it was probably for the best that there wasn’t a chance to buy on the night I went!