Professional gaming gear has officially arrived in the mainstream.
Following the development of a lifestyle sneaker with popular esports organization the Immortals Gaming Club (IGC) in 2018, K-Swiss has joined forces with the group again to officially launch the first mass-produced sneaker designed to appeal to the esports athlete and beyond: the MIBR One-Tap.
Although the needs of an electronic athlete differ from those of professional athletes in more traditional sports, K-Swiss nonetheless designed the shoe with performance in mind.
“For players to perform their best, they must look and feel their best,” K-Swiss president Barney Waters said in a statement. “In the esports world, this is no exception as physical and psychological preparation breeds excellence in performance, exactly what the One-Tap offers.”
That excellence comes from an “extremely lightweight” frame padded with a soft and flexible upper that features an elasticated closure for a tight, but comfortable fit. A collapsible heel means that players can use the shoe as either a sneaker or a slide and two colorways have been offered in black and silver.
However, the features of the One-Tap are far more than skin-deep. Probably the most eye-catching among them, the “Flow Cool System 2.0” TPU venting unit, allows air to pass through the shoe easily—a clutch move for the typically dark and sweaty confines of gaming floors, which usually are piled high with heat-emitting monitors, computers and consoles.
For cooler climes, K-Swiss also included a die-cut Ortholite wool-topped sock liner to cover the vent.
“The One-Tap is the output of months of collaboration and prototyping and a genuine bottoms-up approach to understanding our players in and out the game, and to design a product that would feel truly bespoke and original,” IGC CEO Ari Segal explained.
The shoe also carries an endorsement from Made in Brazil (MIBR), an esports team that IGC acquired last year. MIBR specializes in playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a high-intensity, fast-paced multiplayer shooter that pits two teams against each other to compete in a variety of action-packed scenarios. The game has a significant worldwide following and is featured in several esports tournaments, sometimes rewarding cash prizes of up to $1 million to the winning team.
For Waters, this was an opportunity for K-Swiss to catch the rising wave of esports before it engulfs the performance apparel industry for good.
“As a challenger brand, I’m always looking for these opportunities to stand apart, to do something different and new,” Waters said in the short documentary the brand produced to announce the One-Tap.
“I think it’s only a matter of time that every brand gets involved,” he continued. “But, we are able to get ‘first-mover’ advantage in that we announced the first signature sneaker for an esports team.
“[Esports] is too big and growing too fast to be ignored,” Waters concluded. “While I think a lot of brands are sleeping for the moment, its only a matter of time before they catch up.”