It all started in 1914, Brooks begins in a small factory in Philadelphia that makes ballet slippers and bathing shoes. While we can’t take much credit for revolutionizing the ballet or bath shoe industries, we remain just as committed to specialized gear for a specialized activity today.
1921 to 1971 we dabbled in mainstream sports with our custom baseball cleats, football cleats, softball cleats and we even spent some time in creating roller skates. You know that little bumper on the front of your roller skates that sometimes, but not often enough, prevents you from crashing into parked cars? That’s us.
We even had a moment with Mickey. Long before Brooks could take part in major sports endorsements, then-CEO Jerry Turner made his way into the Yankees’ locker room with a box of Brooks cleats under each arm. He asked Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle if they’d like to try them on. Maris declined, but Mantle tried them, loved them and bought both pairs with a check for $44.
So when did we start our journey in creating performance running shoes?
The year was 1972, everyone was jamming to The Jackson 5’s Rockin’ Robin and Yale graduate Frank Shorter won the Olympic marathon. Running suddenly captivates the world’s attention. Instead of making anything — from athletic shoes to combat boots — that would keep the factory turning, Brooks starts to think about limiting its focus.
Innovation and developing new technology
Within, the next two decades Brooks begins its true commitment to innovation. Firstly. through runner insight by developing the Villanova with feedback from Olympic middle-distance runner Marty Liquori. The shoe puts Brooks in a league with the other big names in running of the time. Brooks then develops it’s first shoe to hit #1 in Runner’s World called Vantage. Brooks Vantage includes developing the industry-first use of EVA (which replaced slow-rebounding rubber in midsoles), it becomes so popular President Jimmy Carter orders a pair. The Hugger GT and Varus Wedge continue to make big strides in the running community with the Varus Wedge rated the best running shoe in the world by Running Times
Brooks then releases a new cushioning technology designed to stabilize the forefoot: a piece of soft, flexible material under the ball of the foot. The Kinetic Wedge allows the foot to arch more naturally, reducing stress-related injuries. This development is said to be the first of several innovations that makes Brooks for Women the first shoes designed to be anatomically correct for women.
Then, like a hydraulic shock absorber, HydroFlow reacts uniquely to each runner’s weight and gait. This technology starts as a two-chambered system that moves silicone fluid from a rear chamber into a front chamber of the shoe with each heel strike and then springs back when the heel lifts. In 1991, HydroFlow wins the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance. Later, HydroFlow is improved to dampen impact by moving a silicone-oil compound from the center of the pad to the edges.
The start for our current best-selling shoes
In 1992 Brooks’ next big shoe takes motion control to a new level with improvements to the Diagonal Rollbar. Doctors prescribe the Beast for runners with shin splints and other injuries. The Beast and the Addiction (the “Baby Beast”) go on to become some of Brooks’ most successful shoes and still have a loyal following today.
Brooks followed the success of the Beast with further new technology, a new Brooks concept makes the outsole more flexible than ever. Instead of linear grooves, Podular Technology introduces pods on the outsole, allowing the shoe to bend in every direction. The innovation is now so common, it seems strange to think of it as revolutionary so recently.
1999 is the beginning of an era with the release of the first Adrenaline GTS. One of Brooks’ all-time best sellers hits the market, marking Brooks’ first big move into the fast-growing stability category. The Adrenaline GTS (Go-To Shoe) is developed through feedback from running retailers seeking a go-to shoe that was supportive but more flexible and responsive than the Addiction. The Adrenaline adds flexibility to the forefoot, smoother transitions from heel strike to toe-off and flex grooves that offer the right amount of support and traction, among other innovations.
Full Commitment to the Run
When you focus on what you do best, you do it even better. Brooks enters the new millennium focused on one thing: running. We’re proud of our heritage. We’re grateful for all the wearers of Brooks sporting goods over the years. But now we’re singular in our pursuit.
A new last “tunes” the fit, balance and ride of the Adrenaline GTS to perfection. The Progressive Diagonal Rollbar is introduced, using triple-density foam contoured not only to prevent pronation from the outside in, but also to gradually guide the foot forward from heel strike to toe-off. These innovations lead the Adrenaline GTS 4 to Runner’s World‘s “Best Update” award and Running Network’s “Best Renovation” Gold Medal; it also becomes Brooks’ best-selling shoe.
In 2006 a whole new polymer-based substance represents a complete update to the industry standard EVA foam midsole. MoGo gives runners more cushioning, more rebound, more durability and more energy return. A more efficient and environmentally friendly compression-molded preform process cuts waste in half.
Just a year later Brooks improves upon the revolutionary MoGo midsole by making the world’s first fully biodegradable midsole cushioning material. Tests show that BioMoGo breaks down 50x faster than EVA, with the potential to save landfills nearly 30 million pounds of waste over a 20-year period. And then Brooks does the unthinkable by freely sharing BioMoGo’s formula with the competition.
In 2011, Brooks embarks on the PureProject. While never adopting the “less is more” philosophy of the minimalist running boom, the PureProject line delivers a more biomechanically sound product in a lighter package. Runner’s World says in its review of the PureConnect that it “strikes a balance between barefoot-inspired minimalism and cushioning-required training … it has a lightweight, barely-there feel yet is substantive enough to handle long tempo runs.”
No matter how many years have passed, Brooks continues it’s quest to continue to develop the best and most current technology by working closely with experts and runners. Instead of trying to “correct” a runner’s gait, Brooks embraces emerging biomechanics research that the “right way” to run is as individual as runners themselves. The Transcend is the first shoe to feature GuideRails technology.
Within the last two years, Brooks has aimed to enhance a runners experience on their run by launching its most responsive midsole ever, featuring technology that returns more energy to the runner than any shoe from leading competitors. DNA AMP absorbs the impact of the foot strike and returns it directly upward, so energy expelled by runners is translated back into longer, faster runs.
And then further developing DNA LOFT, the softest midsole ever created by Brooks hits the market. With a balance of foam, air, and rubber that disperses impact away from the body, runners are offered a plush, comfortable ride without sacrificing responsiveness or durability.
What is the latest advancement for Brooks?
Introducing GuideRails 2.0, Brooks unveils a whole new approach to support technology that embraces the individuality inherent in each runner’s stride. GuideRails are specialized plates that allow runners’ hips, knees and joints to move through their own unique Habitual Motion Path, only intervening when the runner exceeds this zone. This holistic approach to support takes into account the natural coupling between the feet and the joints, recognizing that no shoe could hope to outsmart the human body.
At Brooks we will continue to research, develop and trial new running technology to ensure runners are enjoying their run because we believe A RUN can flat out change a day, a life, the world.