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Outdoor Brand Moves From Climbing Into Performance Lifestyle Footwear

Already known for its high-quality climbing shoes, Black Diamond Equipment is peeking out of the outdoor space with the launch of four new styles of performance sneakers designed to take their user from the climbing wall, to the streets and anywhere in-between.

Despite their look, Black Diamond’s kicks are far from average street sneakers—they’ve been engineered to function in a variety of spaces specific to climbers. The aim, according to Black Diamond, was to take advantage of open space in performance footwear with a more heavily specialized lineup catering to a niche market.

“Black Diamond’s Spring ’20 performance footwear collection is an obvious extension of our climbing shoe line,” Derek Gustafson, Black Diamond equipment’s footwear category director, said in a statement. “With every new product that we bring to the market, our intention is to make it better. For performance footwear, specifically technical and lifestyle categories, we feel there is a hole in the market and an opportunity for new technology.”

Three foot shapes, or lasts, are spread throughout the collection of four styles, each with a different purpose in the life of a regular climber. The “Circuit” style from Black Diamond’s new line combines a collapsible heel and the company’s proprietary BlackLabel-Street Rubber soles with a breathable knit upper and a rubber toe to create a style the company claims is just at home at the gym as it is on the mountain.

Black Diamond’s “Session” style was created in the same vein, featuring a stretch-fit heel that provides for a closer fit while still being easy to remove.

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The final two styles are both soled with Black Diamond’s “super sticky” BlackLabel-Moutain Rubber soles, although the “Technician” boasts a precise fit and the “Mission LT” differentiates itself by being exceptionally light.

Black Diamond calls the Circuit and Session styles “performance lifestyle” footwear, while noting the Technician and Mission LT styles should be thought of as technical performance shoes. Regardless, all four were designed to bring the qualities of top-of-the-line climbing footwear—a precise edge, compressed fit and sticky soles—to a climbing audience that won’t always be on the wall.

“We incorporated several purpose-built lasts that span over this introductory collection,” Dan Rowe, Black Diamond Equipment’s senior footwear designer explained. “Whether you are on a smash-and-grab ascent of the Grand Teton, scrambling 5.5 moves on a Flatiron before work, or stepping from a bouldering session at your local gym to the coffee shop or bar, we are launching four models for both men and women each designed with a specific end-use in mind.”