Sole Man: 12 Things We Learned About Minimalism

These shoe ads from a running magazine in 2000 are a good indication of where running shoes were at the turn of the century. Motion control devices and space-age "visible technology" features ruled the day.

Minimalism Was Necessary And Long Overdue

Before the modern minimalist trend emerged in the early 2000s (most point to the launch of Nike’s Free line in 2004 as the trend’s inception), running shoe design was heading in the wrong direction. Guided by the 1990s ethos of “technology you can see” and “bigger, better, more,” many shoes were overbuilt, too heavy, too flashy and not functionally effective. In many ways, a lot of shoes were being designed to look good on a shoe wall and feel good inside the confines of a running store, but they weren’t really great for running.

Gluttony was the order of the day (think of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when oversized, gas-guzzling SUVs were a hot trend, and you get the idea) and it made its way into running gear. Unrestrained and often unwieldy design philosophies and sales mantras were suddenly driving the bus, but the science of the day suggested that a running shoe should control a runner’s stride and not the other way around. As such, motion control and hearty stability shoes ruled the 1990s and early 2000s, as well as other “technological breakthroughs” like futuristic columns of springs.

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