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    Ultra Boost

    In early 2013, something special was happening in the world of running, and all eyes were focused on New York City. With help from some of the world’s best athletes, Adidas was launching their new, highly innovative Boost technology. This new feature, which promised to ‘boost your run’ would soon shake the entire running world. Two years later, adidas optimised this technology and launched what they called ‘the world’s best running shoe’, the adidas Ultra Boost. This was the first day of a new era, and it was clear the Ultra Boost was here to stay. In the first five years, the Ultraboost proved its popularity, with men’s and women’s sizes flying off the shelves. These running shoes weren’t just popular among athletes, they also quickly made the crossover to the streets in the UK and the world over. Boasting that your new release is ‘the world’s best running shoe’ is quite a bold move, but that’s exactly what adidas did with the Ultra Boost. The brand’s Running General Manager called these new trainers the best in terms of ‘fit, feel and transition’. This combination of three outcomes was produced using three different materials. For the ‘fit’, adidas used an innovative knit technology called Primeknit. This was incorporated into the shoe to create a seamless upper which hugged the foot, contracting and expanding to mold to the shape of the foot while running. Primeknit also enabled detailed colouring on the shoes, which resulted in incredible multicolour designs such as the Rainbow. Secondly, this knit had to be combined with the right outsole material for the ‘transition’ part of the equation. To get the best result, adidas decided to go for Continental rubber under the sole. The grip on the surface was unmatched. Finally, the perfect ‘feel’ for ‘the world’s best running shoe’ was already available to the German brand. They would use their innovative Boost technology. A Boost midsole is made of foam balls pressed tightly together. They provide immense cushioning and prevent energy from disappearing into the ground. It makes running and walking less energy-consuming, and most importantly, it’s very comfortable. It doesn’t matter if you’re walking on the Ultraboost 20, Uncaged, ST or 4.0, whether you have ladies’ or men’s, adult or junior sizes, all of these models have the same Boost technology. 

    In 2015 when it first went on sale, it was the bright foam of the first adidas Ultra Boost which caught everyone’s attention. The upper was decked out with dark tones, while the sole had lighter ones. This eye-catching design made sure everyone noticed the new sneakers. However, in most newer models, the shoe’s foam sole is actually white. This can be seen in the All White, which is, unsurprisingly, completely white. The sole also came out in different tones in the All Black, Triple Grey, and the Wool Grey, with their black and grey uppers. This small handful of colours given to the sole was compensated by the rich range used for the upper. We saw models in pink, red, brown tan, and olive green to name just a few. As you might expect, these colourful editions were hugely popular at sports shops and online retailers, as well as discount stores where people wanted to buy the Ultra Boost at a cheap price. But on top of these bold designs, there were also more subtle colour combinations. The white was traded for off-white in the Cream, and thanks to Primeknit, black and white were combined in great detail for the Oreo, also known as the Zebra. And there’s so much more to choose from in the custom studios of Mi Adidas. Even shiny and reflective panels were used on the shoe, in the case of the Metallic Silver and the Xeno. The follow-ups came out fast. For example there was the X version, a model made especially for women. In 2016 the third model in the line, the Ultra Boost 3.0 was released, featuring material updates and small design changes. For the launch of the fifth model, the Ultra Boost 19, adidas did something remarkable. They pared down the elements of the shoe from seventeen parts to only four. The most notable change was the size of the heel cup. In other models, such as the Ultra Boost Clima, the upper also altered. The fine Primeknit made room for rough mesh, providing a nice breezy feel during summer runs and walks. Then there's the adidas Ultra Boost All Terrain (ATR), which is excellent for winter and off-road activity. They’re waterproof and look like boots because of their mid cut sock-like design. Other models got exciting new updates. The S&L, for example, was a newer version of the popular Ultra Boost OG, the original from 2015. All these versions are already pretty special, but adidas also brought out limited editions such as the green and beige Trace Cargo. These models came out under the name Ultra Boost LTD.

    In a similar vein, adidas has brought out several special Ultra Boost models in collaboration with brands and artists. With Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organisation tackling plastic pollution in the sea, adidas brought out a shoe with an upper made from recycled plastic. This model, the adidas Ultra Boost Parley is also available in a laceless version. Kanye West was a proud adopter of the Ultra Boost. He was spotted wearing them in May 2015, just a month before he brought out his own collab model, the Yeezy Boost 350. Another celebrity name brought in to design an edition of the Ultraboost was British fashion designer Stella McCartney. Then there was the collab with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, the Y3, a low and high top sneaker with a sock. Over the years, multiple fashion brands have also brought their style to the adidas Ultra Boost. The partnership with famous premium sneaker store Undefeated, also known as UNDFTD, gave us the Blackout featuring a reflective brand name across the instep. There were duo-designed versions of the Boost drawn up by Japanese streetwear fashion labels Bape, with great camo print. And then there was Haven, the British clothing store Wood Wood, and the American brand Kith, a brand focussing on ‘progressive retail establishment’. Stepping away from fashion brands, names and stores, adidas also brought out designs relating to the world of TV and film. Colorways based on the hit series Game of Thrones were brought out, and in 2019 the Germans honoured Pixar's animation films of Toy Story, for the release of Toy Story 4. Here the Boost was given Buzz Lightyear and Woody colours. The adidas Ultraboost was introduced to events such as the Olympics, with the Olympic Medal pack which features the Gold Medal, Silver Medal and Bronze Medal. Boost even celebrated the Chinese New Year with a shoe of the same name which dropped in early 2020. This model, unbelievably, had flower print across the Boost sole.

    Ultra Boost 20

    In 2020, with a new year, adidas brought us the Ultra Boost 20. This didn’t promise any groundbreaking changes as they were already brought to us with the 19 a year earlier. If you compare the 19 to the 20, it’s hard to see any differences at first sight, but they are there. Between the two models, the Boost midsole didn’t change at all. This was  the best of the best as always. Differences in the 20 can be found on the top, starting with the upper. The Primeknit, with its sock-like fit, was given an update. Incorporated into the material are TFP strings which enhance stability. These are clearly visible with a specific print or colour. The midfoot cage was updated as well. The biggest change was found at the back though. The heel was kitted out with padded neoprene material. This made the shoe appear a bit thicker than normal and greatly increased the level of comfort, making the shoe feel more snug. This was perfect for running, what the shoe was still meant for, but it is something to keep in mind when buying the adidas Ultra Boost 20 to wear as sneakers. The 2020 model was launched in a variety of colours, ranging from black and white to bright green and orange. They look smooth, no matter the colourway. Collaborations are something to look out for. One of the first was the one carried out with the laboratory of the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS lab collab had an iridescent purple and blue Boost sole. This 2020 version promises a lot for the years to come.

    adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged

    In 2016, the Ultra Boost was unleashed and finally brought out of its cage. This wild new model, the adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged can be really easily recognised. For a start, it doesn’t have the midfoot frame which usually supports the laces, though, unlike the 19 and 20, it does have a solid heel cup which cradles the back of the foot. Essential to the fit and feel of the Ultra Boost Uncaged is its sock-like design. The Primeknit material hugs the foot more firmly than other models. For this reason, the shoe feels as comfortable as it looks, and this is the case in all of the versions for men, women, boys and girls. With no cage around the foot, what the shoe gets in comfort, it loses slightly in stability. At the same time however, it gains a lot in freedom of movement, and this was exactly what adidas wanted. All kinds of colours and shades were brought in for this model. We saw versions combining white, black and grey, usually in a recognisable speckled pattern. The Carbon features a shade of charcoal which is lighter than black but darker than dark grey. Speckled versions are also available in blue and maroon with the Burgundy. But the unique selling point of the Boost Uncaged is still the lack of the foot cage. This allows the athlete to experience something close to a barefoot run while still having the support, protection and comfort of the Boost midsole.

    Ultra Boost ST

    If the Uncaged lacks a little in stability compared to other models, the adidas Ultra Boost ST certainly doesn’t share this problem. This model was designed for a firmer stride, the ST actually stands for stability. This is thanks to the stability plate, a see-through panel on the inside of the Boost midsole. It gives the shoe ‘energized stability’, meaning that the plate provides the runner with a little push off the ground and some extra forward motion. Additionally, the Boost midsole is significantly thicker than we are used to. Put the Ultra Boost ST and the original model next to each other and you can see the differences immediately. In the ST, there’s more Boost material and it's a bit stiffer. On top of this, there are more minor changes which have a huge impact on the design. Firstly, a cap has been added around the toe to prevent the tip of the shoe from wearing out. Secondly, the laces are longer, so a lace up closer to the toes. This stability Ultraboost is topped off with the same plastic heel cup the initial model has. When it comes to colour, the Ultraboost ST holds its own, with models ranging from navy to purple and red. Recently, a Parley version was produced which surprisingly didn’t have the midfoot cage, though as could be expected, with the trademark extra thick Boost midsole.

    Ultra Boost 4.0

    The first Ultra Boost was released in 2015 and it quickly became such a big success that adidas didn’t wait to release follow up models. Within a year and a half, the 2.0 and 3.0 were already on the market. At the end of 2017, adidas decided to release a fourth model, the adidas Ultra Boost 4.0. What changed in these follow up models? Quite a lot actually, though these changes are subtle. From the 1.0 and 2.0 to the 3.0, it was mostly the Primeknit that changed. Firstly, the stitching pattern of the shoe was altered, the v-shape replaced with straighter lines. In the 3.0 the material was made slightly thinner, changing the fit of the shoe considerably. With the Ultra Boost 4.0, adidas went back to the basics. This resulted in the impressive Triple Black and Triple White models, as well as a really cool beige model. Adidas tried to combine all the best parts of the previous models. This resulted in the Ultraboost 4.0 getting the most premium and refined knit so far. Overall, however, the aesthetics of the 4.0 didn’t change much until the Ultra Boost 2019 version came out. Now you have a good overview of the history of the adidas Ultra Boost, it’s clear to see why the shoe already has such legendary status. And it’s only been around since 2015.

    Rank the Adidas Ultra Boost

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