Puma is throwing its hat (or shoe) into the cushioning war.
Today, the brand introduces its brand new Xetic cushioning system developed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The technology combines mechanical cushioning and foam for a construction derived from auxetic materials. These structures have high energy absorption when compressed and expand for more flexibility.
Xetic will debut on the Calibrate Runner, which will launch in Asia (August 7) and Europe (August 15) before launching in America on August 28.
How it was made — Together with the MIT Design Lab, Puma worked with runners to analyze data including pressure points to develop a structure for progressive cushioning. This resulted in negative space resembling an infinity sign and a structure that looks like it was 3D-printed. This isn't the case, however, as the sole is made from foam instead of plastic.
“PUMA’s innovation department teamed up with MIT Design Lab because we needed their high-expert engineering capabilities,” Romain Girard, Senior Head of Innovation at Puma, said in a press release. “MIT has computer simulation possibilities, which enabled us to see the behavior of the material and quickly find the optimal structure for calculated cushioning.”
How does it compare to Boost and React? — Well, we'll have to wear it to find out. Adidas first introduced Boost in 2013, while Nike followed suit with React in 2017. That makes Puma somewhat late to the game with an ultra cushiony sole, especially when the next tier of brands, including Vans and Under Armour, have already launched their own responsive soles as well.
From a visual standpoint, Xetic does stand on its own and avoids looking like an imitation. (Mizuno's Enerzy Runner, for example, looks like a tumorous Ultra Boost). Comparisons could be made to Adidas' 4D technology, although the structure is entirely different.
Really, we just want to wear the things to see how they stack up. If they're more comfortable than Puma's competitors, that's all that matters.
For running or for showing — Based on the images Puma has released, there look to be two variations of the Calibrate Runner. One features a knit-like upper that appears equipped for running, while a more casual version features the same knit-like material with suede, leather, and roped eyelets.
Surely, this is just the beginning of Xetic's application. It'll be interesting to see what else Puma does with it in the athletic space, and we'll likely see a basketball sneaker sooner than later.