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Katy Wilkinson

By Katy Wilkinson

Brand Obsession: Athletic Propulsion Labs

Athletic Propulsion Labs

Whether you may have spotted these streamlined silhouettes stamped with three distinct letters (APL) in the immaculate Alo Yoga stores in the US, remember hearing about a revolutionary shoe being banned from the NBA in 2010, or have seen the best selling Techloom Pro papped on celebs such as Kim K or Michael  Jordan... we're delighted to introduce Athletic Propulsion Labs to our UK shores.

So why are the latest kicks on the TSE block already top of your activewear wish lists? 

Co-Founders; Adam and Ryan Goldston claim ‘they’re the most comfortable shoes you’ll put on’ which we can confirm first hand. As well as being feather-light, weighing in at a minuscule 193 grams for a UK size 5.5 in the newest Breeze model, APL is the most versatile and valuable addition to your shoe-drobe this season.

‘Sneakers are so relevant in today’s culture', explains Adam. 'People are dressing for comfort yet still want to look good and we have provided a shoe that can take someone throughout their day in all aspects of life’.

‘So we wanted to make a shoe that would look incredible on your feet,’ Adam elaborated; ‘to perform at the highest level and make it so you never have to think about if you have the right shoes on your feet.’

At the intersection of style and performance, these sneakers can work it in all situations, from the gym to work meetings to catching a flight - and if you can do that all in one day you’re a superwoman ...so you better make sure you’re well booted!

Breeze APL

So where did the brand ‘spring’ up from? You’ll get the pun once you read on!

In 2008 aged just 23, identical twins Adam and Ryan Goldston founded their brand Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL), whilst studying at University of Southern California. The brothers were keen basketball players at college, but felt that their height was holding them back from competing at a higher level (literally). This started their mission of creating a shoe that could make the wearer jump higher, to allow athletes to maximise their potential.

Inspired by Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab, the duo set about establishing an athletic brand of revolutionary products, positioned at the intersection of fashion, performance and technology. Their major breakthrough into the sports footwear industry came with the invention of their Load ‘N Launch® Technologies, designed to instantly increase vertical leap.

Adam and Ryan Goldston

But just before we skip to the technology…

Even at 5 years old, the Goldston twins had a sneaker-head on their shoulders. Their father Mark Goldston, who Chief Marketing Officer of Reebok and oversaw the creation of the iconic Reebok Pump, set his sons on the task of product testing. Whilst sampling the sneakers in the dark, Adam and Ryan had suggested the lights move from the back to the side so they can be seen by the wearer. This feedback was implemented and the shoes went on to sell over 5m pairs a year throughout the nineties. Let’s hope they negotiated their stake in the shares aged 5…

So what is this Load ‘N Launch?

With the launch of their first basketball shoe in June 2010, the $300 Concept 1, they became the creators of the first shoe proven to instantly make you jump higher due to the revolutionary 8-spring Load 'N Launch Technology, a compression spring based system located in the forefoot cavity of the shoe.

The co-creators describe the technology as a diving board; ‘as it takes the potential energy stored in the load phase of a jump and turns it into kinetic during the launch phase’. Once the board of the NBA caught onto the Concept 1’s advantageous attributes,  it became the first shoe banned in the NBA's 64-year history for performance reasons due to it providing ‘an undue competitive advantage’.

This gave the pair the ultimate endorsement and literal leg up, as their product was officially acknowledged as TOO good for the sport it was designed for. The story went viral and at this moment APL took off, becoming one of the top searched terms on Google. Their website crashed for 8 hours and sold out of 9 months worth of inventory in 3 days.

It changed the course of our business and gave us the platform we needed to promote and build our brand,’ said the pair, as their start-up company hit the world stage within hours.

Load n launch technology

Whilst lecturers criticised the twins, saying they were ‘too smart to be doing something like this’, they continued to stick with what they were passionate about, which has ultimately proven it’s success.

Now recognised as accomplished inventors with numerous U.S and foreign patents, this ambitious pair’s business plan to market the fusion of fashion with performance in footwear served as Ryan’s grad thesis, and evolved to take on the likes of footwear giants Nike and Adidas. APL has now become a competing player in the £64 billion global athletic footwear market, which Ryan says ‘makes it so exciting – so few players and such a big ocean creates a lot of opportunity.’

The fact that there are so few players is undeniably down to the difficulty to come up with something new, special, unique and smart to get noticed when you’re not one of those biggest brands in the world - something APL has certainly achieved. The duo were named in Forbes’ ‘Top 30 Under 30’ list in 2016 and honoured at the White House as part of the Empact 100, which recognises the Top 100 Entrepreneurs age 35 and under in the U.S. In the words of The Business of Fashion, their ascent to success has been ‘nothing short of remarkable’.

Propelium

What about Propelium®?

While Load ‘N Launch put APL on the map, the founders are most proud of APL’s Propelium® innovation, which was developed specifically for the running market in 2014. The proprietary midsole compound is described by APL as ‘the perfect cushioning technology for every situation,’ to provide the wearer with unmatched comfort and durability. This tech can be found in all the mid and outsoles of the Techloom Pro, Techloom Phantom, Bliss and Breeze models.  

The material provides enhanced cushioning and comfort through shock absorption and energy generation, allowing for a lightweight ground contact and flexible ride. As well as being aesthetically sleek in design by limiting the amount of rubber on the outsole, it extends the life of the midsole structure, degrading at a slower rate than conventional EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate), which is commonly found in traditional midsoles. For the Goldstons, Propelium® perfectly embodies the brand’s ethos, as a material that is ‘at home on the street, in the gym and everywhere in between’.

APL techloom

What is Techloom?

Cutting edge Techloom technology also features in the upper construction of the shoes. It is a type of 3D stretch knit, seamlessly woven from performance textiles to create a single pieced upper. Such an upper provides an exceptional fit which dynamically moves with the foot. For example, when trying them on, if you flex your big toe then the knitting stretches but stays tight everywhere else. The Techloom also offers key areas of support, and breathability, to further heighten the performance.

The shoe designs have taken an emblem-free, sleek aesthetic, as the Goldston’s claim that, ‘consumers are craving products that don’t feature big emblazoned logos’. Instead their aim is to let the striking unisex materials, colour, design and technology do the talking. Particularly striking materials include glow-in-the-dark knits, animal print calf hair, woven metallics,  cashmere, quilted textures, laser cut logos and waxed cotton.

However when it comes to unique design, there is one shoe to rule them all. The Lusso Supremes Black/Pure Gold from the APL LUX range, which is handcrafted to order in Italy by renowned footwear artisans, is rafted from Nile crocodile skin and painted in 24k pure gold. Retailing at a staggering $20,000, the Lusso Supremes is the very definition of sports luxe.

It is no surprise then that APL is the first athletic brand to be inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America and was recently named ‘One of the Five Best New Sportswear Brands in the World’ by ISPO, the International Sporting Goods Organization. Safe to say APL is backed by the big dogs, across both sports and fashion.

Karat gold and calf hair aside, the core performance and active-casual styles all come in under £180, which when featured alongside the likes of Gucci’s £800 embellished sneakers in high end departments store such as Lane Crawford, or Saks Fifth Avenue, makes APL seem like an easy athleisure add on. So whether you pick your seasonal colourway or opt for a wear-with-everything monochrome style, you’ll be getting your pounds back with every run, squat and jump.

What are the key features of the different styles?

APL Phantom

PHANTOM

Running - Training - Off Duty

- Newly developed 3D Stretch TechLoom features an intricate grid pattern designed to move with your feet providing a sock-like fit

- Lycra tongue with integrated collar offer exceptional fit and all-day comfort wrapped in a sleek, low-cut silhouette.

- Inspired by the shape of a feather, the outsole incorporates

- Natural motion flex grooves that react to every movement

APL Techloom Pro

PRO

Running - Training - Off Duty

- Revolutionary TechLoom upper construction is seamlessly woven from performance textiles resulting in a true one-piece upper

- Engineered into a single layer; support, breathability, flex, and strength are all strategically designed and placed in key areas.

- Midsole/outsole compound for direct ground contact, enabling the use of less rubber on the outsole, significantly reducing weight.

 APL Breeze

BREEZE

Running - Training - Off Duty

- APL’s lightest running shoe ever

- Newly developed lightweight Propelium midsole, and new traction pattern incorporated into a durable rubber outsole, and forefoot crash pad

- Seamless, high-elastic TechLoom Upper - for extreme stretch that moves with your feet

Internal speed lacing system with exposed eyelets, which holds your foot securely in place to allow a full range of motion.

BLISS (COMING AUTUMN 2018)

- Stunning seamless, slip-on design

- Newly developed lightweight Propelium midsole, and new traction pattern incorporated into a durable rubber outsole, and forefoot crash pad

- custom-milled satin elastic strap that allows for quick ingress and egress providing ultimate comfort

The Future

So what next? This summer Ryan and Adam are set to open their first brick-and-mortar retail store and house the company’s headquarters in in Row DTLA - a 15,000 square ft. space known as the APL Retail Lab. It’s safe to say they’ve come a long way from the college dorm they started designing in, and we’re excited for what’s to come with APL x TSE’s new partnership. For us, the Goldstons’ are true pioneers in the luxury performance category, and  continue to reshape what it means to be both a fashion brand and a performance brand on a global scale. And we look forward to paying a visit to the Retail Lab very soon!

Shop Athletic Propulsion Labs >

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