Jul | 11
Behind the Laces

Behind the Laces: The Creation of DNA LOFT Cushioning Technology

Have you ever found your perfect running shoe sole mate? Have you ever crossed your fingers and hoped that your favorite shoe stays the same forever? You’re not alone! With every shoe update, our Brooks footwear team must ride the fine balance between bringing runners something new and innovative while also maintaining the experience they’ve come to trust. We sat down with Zach Boteilho, Brooks senior footwear developer, to learn more about the latest update to the popular Ghost 11 and Glycerin 16—the introduction of our new DNA LOFT cushioning. Read on to learn more about our evolving footwear technology – don’t worry, we’ll break down the lingo for you!

First things first. What is DNA LOFT and how is it different from our other footwear technologies?

DNA LOFT is the next evolution of Super DNA (otherwise known as the cushioning in the Glycerin 15). DNA LOFT is a blend of EVA (traditional running shoe cushioning), rubber and air. This unique combination gives DNA LOFT its long-lasting, smooth and ultra-soft feel underfoot.
When talking with runners, we realized there’s a whole group out there that want a super plush, soft feel in their running shoes. However, when you take traditional cushioning technology (such as EVA) and try to make it softer, it is more likely to compress or bottom out. The rubber and air we added to our existing Super DNA EVA to create DNA LOFT helps provide resiliency so the cushioning platform performs to Brooks’ standards.
Because Super DNA already provided a lot of the qualities we were looking for with this new highly cushioned experience, we really focused on evolving this technology to ensure it was meeting the needs of the runners we had received feedback from. DNA LOFT is definitely an evolution—not a revolution.
Here’s how it works:
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The Glycerin 15 was great! Why did you choose to update this model with DNA LOFT?

Our goal is to always find new and unique ways to innovate while also bringing runners the experiences they crave. The Glycerin has always been the pinnacle cushioning experience in our line—the shoe that provides the most cushioning of all our neutral shoes. When we realized runners were asking for an even more soft and plush experience, we knew Glycerin would be the perfect shoe to introduce a new cushioning technology that brought this experience to life.
While the Glycerin 16 features new DNA LOFT cushioning, we did several things to maintain the experience including biomechanical parameter validation; so the cushioning feel experience is different, but the ride is still similar.

How many rounds of testing did DNA LOFT go through during development?

DNA LOFT went through five rounds of testing. We actually started with a Super DNA base which put us in a great spot because it was more about advancing our current technology vs. starting from scratch.
To ensure new products and technologies meet the needs of runners, we put everything through rigorous testing—both in our lab and with wear testers. In the lab, we have a variety of mechanical metrics that a shoe and technology must meet while with wear testers, it’s all about taking in their qualitative feedback about refining the experience through each round of testing.
The below comments from our wear testers helped us to gauge that we were on the right path with our DNA LOFT technology:

– “It is very soft and pillow-like. The ride is a very easy transition from heel to toe-off and I almost feel like I’m compressing memory foam.”

– “Forefoot feels more cushioned, maybe due to toes being able to move more freely.  Heel strike is soft, but not spongy so cushioning is just right for me.”

– “Very cushioned, but not mushy.”

Once these goals are met, we’re ready to bring a new shoe and/or technology to you!

Were there unexpected obstacles along the way?

Yes, we definitely encountered a few obstacles. When you introduce a new material, it requires you to look at the core fundamentals of how you actually build the shoe and make small adjustments to ensure you’re still delivering an experience the runner is looking for. Because DNA LOFT is a much softer material it’s inherently more flexible. The construction of the Glycerin is already flexible so to ensure we didn’t create a shoe with too much flexibility, we needed to make small changes to how the shoe as a whole unit was constructed.  This required working closely with the Brooks lab team, consumer insights team and the footwear wear test team.
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Does DNA LOFT look different aesthetically?

Our design team has done a great job of updating the design language of our entire footwear line to ensure the look of each shoe brings to life the experience runners can expect. Because DNA LOFT will be incorporated into several shoes within our line, we wanted to create a design that makes it easy for runners to spot this technology. The design team created this great pentagram shaped design which is featured throughout the midsole and visually represents the supremely soft and cushioned experience.

So… what’s next?

As we move forward with product creation, we will incorporate DNA LOFT into more shoes in the future. How we add DNA LOFT to each shoe will depend on the experience we’re trying to create. For example, some shoes will feature DNA LOFT in the heel only while other styles will have the technology throughout the full midsole. You’ll also notice that as DNA LOFT continues to be incorporated into future seasons, the product design language will also evolve. What you’ll see in the Fall ’18 line will become even more refined in future seasons to introduce a consistent visualization of cushioning that runners can easily recognize.

About Zach Boteilho:

Zach is a Senior Footwear Developer at Brooks. He is proudly Star Wars obsessed and even has a dog named after a character in the movie series (Kylo). Throughout his 10 years at Brooks, the favorite shoe he’s worked on is the Neuro, which took six years to get to market. When he’s not busy traveling to footwear factories or brainstorming new footwear technologies with his team, Zach enjoys watching soccer and is always looking for a good hamburger.

About Alina Steiner
I’m a true Pacific Northwest gal with a passion for golden retrievers, live music, flannel, and the outdoors. I run, albeit not fast, and I definitely #willrunforfroyo. Three things I can’t live without: PB&J sandwiches, lip balm, and my Brooks Greenlight Tights.

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