By Shu Xie
The “technical fabric”, as the sales person at the Prada store told me, is the “latest”. It maybe the latest for Prada, but it isn’t so for the world of athletic shoes. If you are a wearer of sneakers with knitted uppers, such as the ground-breaking Nike technology known as Flyknit, you’d know what I mean.
Knitted fabrics are, of course, not new, but for sneakers, they resulted in the battle of the titans. Back in February 2012, about six months before the London Summer Olympics, Nike announced the commercial release of Flyknit, a material so advanced at that time that it was to revolutionise how sneakers would be made. This came after 10 years of research, according to Nike. Flyknit, apart from being light, would reduce the typical wastage that usually result in the use of fabrics such PU and mesh.
In July the same year, Adidas announced that they, too, had a knit upper for shoes and it was called Primeknit. What ensued was a complicated, Nike-initiated court battle of who-made-what-first, and by many accounts, is still being fought in the courts today.
While the two footwear giants try to convince the world that one of their technologies was the first to be conceived, other brands have found ways to use kitted fabrics to make the uppers of performance footwear and to make them popular. Prada is, of course, no exception.
But rather than use the knit for sneakers, which they do, Prada has applied them on court shoes, itself a breed in need of rejuvenation. I must say that what attracted me to these heels are not their handsome, traditional form, but the knitted upper with a pattern that, in sum, looks somewhat pixelated. And from afar could be sequinned! It’s graphically the stuff of social media, of course. And that, I suppose, is modern.
Prada knit pointy toe pumps, SGD1,630. Photo by Zhao Xiangji