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Mizuno’s Latest Performance Sneaker Might Make You Look Twice

Japanese sportswear company Mizuno released a new footwear silhouette on July 1 inspired by its latest outsole material innovation, “Enerzy.”

The Mizuno Enerzy signature shoe is designed to enhance rebound and athletic performance, leveraging the softness and energy return of the Enerzy material to help wearers jump higher and go faster.

“We recognize not only what athletes want, but also require in their training–no matter their sport,” Tomohiro Ota, chief marketing officer for Mizuno USA said in a statement. “We know performance, energy return and comfort are all equally important, so we are constantly engineering new technologies aided to support this.”

Mizuno said the outsole’s striking red-bubble design is meant to be an “iterative example” of the Enerzy technology, offering the greatest energy return in its product portfolio. In a video on the Mizuno website, footwear engineer Kentaro Yahata said the challenge of working with the Enerzy material was figuring out how to incorporate it into shoes—which presents a different problem than simply designing materials from scratch.

“Mizuno Enerzy sets Mizuno apart from the rest of the competition because of how it came to fruition,” Ota told Sourcing Journal. “Mizuno spent countless hours and days researching the significance of ‘rebound’ technology in Mizuno equipment, a category separate from footwear, and applied that newly acquired knowledge to create this industry-leading technology.”

Ota said the company called on its 114 years of footwear, equipment and apparel design experience to bring Enerzy to fruition in a years-long process.

“Through the wide array of sports and products that make up the Mizuno brand, they were able to build off of what they have learned, leading the way for new innovations to be developed throughout all categories,” Ota said.

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Available in two material iterations, Mizuno Enerzy Core boosts softness by 293 percent and rebound up to 56 percent while the Mizuno Enerzy (Foam), offers a 17 percent improvement in softness and a 15 percent improvement in rebound over standard materials, the company said.

Mizuno’s newest sneaker arrives amid surging interest in running, which could be attributable to consumers seeking to break out of their quarantine confines and into the fresh air, according The NPD Group.

A new midsole material defines the new Mizuno Energy a unique running shoe released just as the performance market has started to heat up.
The Mizuno Enerzy’s midsole material enhances softness and energy return. Mizuno

“We are seeing a renewed interest and commitment to health and fitness take hold and I expect performance running will be a real beneficiary in today’s COVID-19 world,” NPD sports industry advisor Matt Powell said. “With sales declining on an annual basis and athleisure becoming the driving force in footwear, it has been a mixed bag for the performance running footwear market; however, the current environment could work in its favor.”

NPD’s retail tracking service found dollar sales in the performance running market jumped 30 percent year-over-year for the week ending on June 20, with a similar bump seen in mid-May as sales rebounded.

This was the highest sales gain in any given week this year and performance running shoes have seen positive comps in the past five weeks, averaging 11 percent sales growth during that time.

“We should see running benefit in the COVID-19 recession as this market has typically performed well during recessions,” Powell said. “In addition, consumer inclination towards more practical purchasing and social distancing bodes well for the continuation of a positive running trend.”

Brands like Brooks, Hoka One One and On Running have leveraged their niche focus on the running space to drive double- or triple-digit growth in each of the past five weeks, NPD said.

Three hundred pairs of the signature Mizuno Enerzy shoe were available through a raffle on July 1. According to the Mizuno website, two new silhouettes featuring Enerzy will launch on July 15 and Aug. 1.