This truck transporting all lumber is a perfect representation of why wovens and mesh don’t work for me

If you take a look at the truck bed, the lumber is held up by multiple posts rather than tie downs or tarp. The reason they use posts is because the lumber will shift, roll and gather momentum eventually stressing and or/breaking the tie down. Fabric ties just don’t have the same strength as steel posts. 

The same thing occurs with your foot when you’re playing basketball or any sport that requires lateral movement. Think of your foot and ankle as the lumber that shifts, rolls and moves on the truck bed or better known as the foot bed. If you take a look at my containment videos or pics you can see that the lack of a firm structure on the lateral side just allows my foot to slide out. Obviously, the upper won’t tear but containment is still the issue.

Here you can see how easy it is to push the foot out from a static position on the J Crossover 2 and Crazylight Boost 2015   

   

Ironically the AJ XX9, which is one of the first shoes I noticed this problem on, isn’t nearly as bad as what I’ve experienced lately although it still doesn’t get high marks from me. 

Obviously containent issues are dependent on personal factors: weight, height ( center if gravity matters), how you move on the court ( if you cut and change directions quickly a lot. All these factors combined equate to how much lateral force you put on a shoe. As we learned from Nike in the Kyrie campaign

Force= mass * acceration 

So a bigger player with equal acceleration will put more force and stress on a shoe than a lighter one. And players of similar size and build but different acceleration will put different forces on the shoe’s upper. 

It’s not that I  think  basketball shoe companies don’t understand this because they do. Duke at Weartesters interviewed Dave Dombrow from Under Armour recently and stated the reason for the synthetic forefoot versus full Speedform was enforced containment purposes. 

  

Not to mention the Brandblack J Crossover 2 Low will feature synthetic in the forefoot, not a full woven upper like the mid. So at least some companies are picking performance over looks on occasion. The Kd 8 actually had good containment without changing the upper material as Nike decided to double up on the woven in the right places. The Lillard 2 also has great containment thanks to a hidden skeleton. 

I haven’t had a chance to look across all shoe segments but I know Nike has implemented Flyknit into soccer and football cleats but they aren’t pure Flyknit as most have an overlay of some sort for durability and containment purposes. 
  
   
 
 

Here is Nike’s Mercurial Superfly that features Flyknit plus Nikeskin

  
This article is a bit dated but sounds like the same gripes I have 

  
Pretty cool website, here is the full article 

Nikeskin FAQ

  

Adidas really added some lateral support on these. 

(By the way, holy crap Soccer and Football cleats are expensive! )

So if Nike and Adidas are adding lateral support to knit uppers on their cleats, why not basketball shoes ? Obviously they know the need of the athlete so my only guess would be style and to a lesser degree, cost. 

  Outside of running shoes, basketball shoes are probably the most popular shoes to wear casually so shoe companies are trying to make a compromise between style and function. Adding support on knit just takes away from the clean one piece look and of course adding more pieces and materials to a shoe costs more money to make. 

One large segment that doesn’t feature wovens at all yet is tennis. Tennis requires a ton of lateral starts and stops and pure wovens would be a terrible choice for the player and the shoe manufacturer. I’d say 85% of tennis is played laterally so players would notice the lack of containment quickly. Tennis shoes tend to emphasis lateral containment first and foremost due to this reason. 

   

Here is the Adidas Barricade V, which is half structured mesh on the forefoot and medial side and leather on the lateral side. Notice the bear claw at the forefoot for additional containment at the forefoot

It would be more expensive to add enough extra structure and support to a tennis shoe than to just use synthetics. However it has been done .. Back in 2003 with the Nike Implosion. 

  

Nike had to add a TPU frame similar to the Shox Stunner as well as a hidden foot stay to keep the foot contained properly. It is super ugly but effective. No exactly what companies want in terms of looks. 

Don’t get me wrong, wovens and mesh feel great on foot and require zero break in time; they work great in running shoes since there aren’t lateral movements. But with basketball I’d  would rather keep my foot on the footbed than have an upper that conforms to every nook and cranny on my foot.  None of my top 5 have a full woven or mesh upper for containment reasons alone. Just because wovens are the latest craze doesn’t mean it is the best performance wise. You have to remember that show nerds comprise about .000001% of the target market and the regular consumer will just eat up whatever marketing is thrown at them. 

Until then I’ll keep trying for the sake of trying of course. 

22 Comment on “Food for thought: Why  Woven and Mesh Uppers Don’t Work for me (yet)

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