UNDER ARMOUR LAUNCHES HOVR COLLECTION
WE INTERVIEW BRAND AMBASSADOR AND FOOTBALLER GRANIT XHAKA
There was an extremely exciting launch from Under Armour at the beginning of this month and MenswearStyle were invited to the Oval Space to celebrate the unveiling of the new HOVR running shoes; the Sonic and the Phantom. This is a prominent new product for Under Armour as they have created a shoe using brand new technology, developed in their laboratory and innovation centre in Portland, Oregon. We all know that exercise, and particularly running, is hugely popular these days and there is an extensive amount of competition in the industry to create kit that is comfortable as well as stylish. From testing out the shoes myself, Under Armour have certainly put themselves at the top of the leader board with these new trainers in order to compete with the big guns, and there is plenty more to come in the coming seasons.
The key features of both the Sonic and Phantom is the 'HOVR system' which provides superior cushioning with the soft core that is concealed by an 'energy web'. This advanced design enables runners to experience a surprising energy return and responsiveness from the shoes. At the event, Topher Gaylord (General Manger of UA's Run) and Dave Dombrow (Chief Design Officer) described the Phantom as the "luxury car ride" and the Sonic as the "sports car ride".
The Phantom differs from the Sonic in that it has a 5/8” knitted collar for comfort, around the ankle, and the cushioning surrounds the foot using foam and ortholite (an adaptable wax-based material). Inspiration from the design came from a cycling chamois and is the first of its kind. This style of shoe is perfect for every runner, however if you are more focused on long distance, the Sonic might be for you. It has a more lightweight (272 grams) minimal build with a flat-knit upper which locks the foot in and at the same time makes it extremely breathable. Both these styles are complex in design and clearly Under Armour have invested a lot of time in creating the most comfortable, and still affordable, running shoe. As Topher explained, as a running addict himself, they have been determined to achieve the feeling of zero gravity and in turn create "the ultimate ride". As an ambassador for the brand, footballer Granit Xhaka, who plays central/midfielder for Arsenal, was at the event to help launch the new designs. I had the opportunity to sit down with the sportsman to have a chat about his fitness, football and of course, his thoughts on the new HOVR collection.
What do you think of the new Under Armour HOVR shoe?
“I really love the shoes, they feel perfect. They are extremely comfortable with the cushioning all around the feet which I find so important for a running shoe. I also love all the colourways, so I have ordered all of them.”
Have you tested the HOVR shoes out yet?
“I haven’t actually been for a proper run yet but I have been working with Under Armour for a while and I can already feel from just walking and wearing them that they will be brilliant for training.”
What training exercises would you personally use them for?
“The training exercises we do are different to a typical runner. It might not be for long distance ‘straight’ running but I would use the HOVR Phantoms for stop and go, fast-paced exercises.”
Are running shoes just as important to you as football boots?
“Running shoes are more important during pre-season and recovery days. Obviously, we are in the gym a lot during pre-season, so they are needed for that. Football boots are my priority during the season, but the running shoe is just as important overall.”
You clearly take a lot of pride in what you wear on a day-to-day basis, how important is the look of your training kit?
“It is really important. You want to represent your sport well and of course look good for Under Armour. So, the shoes I wear need to look good style-wise. However, saying that, what is most important is that they are comfortable and supportive for my feet. The upper knit and new structure of the shoe on the heel are great and that has really helped with comfort.”
How are you enjoying London life?
“I really enjoy London. It is very different to Switzerland as my hometown definitely isn’t as big. To be honest I am not in the city a lot of the time. We have a lot of games and we spend a huge amount of time training, so I like to be at home with my family when I can.”
What part of training do you find the biggest challenge? Do enjoy running?
“As a footballer, what we always enjoy is running with the ball. I don’t particularly enjoy running during pre-season, and I don’t enjoy the days after my holidays because the training is tough. However, we have to be extremely fit, so we need to do it because most games I run approx 12km. My running is different to a striker whereby I have more sharp sprints, so I must be quick. Even though I don’t enjoy ‘normal’ running, it is really important for our fitness and if we aren’t fit, we can’t last a full game.”
What exercise, if any, do you do during the days following a game? Do you rest the next day or continue training?
“We normally do some running outside on our recovery days and perhaps some time is spent on a bicycle in the gym. We don’t have recovery days to do nothing, there is always something to do exercise wise and prepare ourselves for the next game.”
Has it always been football for you? Are there other sports you enjoy?
“It has always been football from a young age, however I actually really enjoy table tennis. I don’t play much here in England, but I do play in Switzerland.”
Which other Under Armour items do you enjoy training in?
“Everything, from top to bottom, I always wear Under Armour kit. I am extremely honoured and happy to be an ambassador for them and be a part of their team as I really enjoy wearing their clothing and shoes.”