Why Everyone Seems
to Be Wearing These Sneakers Now

On Swiss performance shoes

Why Everyone Seems to Be Wearing These Sneakers Now

Why Everyone Seems to Be Wearing These Sneakers Now

Have you noticed all the
On sneakers lately?

I'm not sure when exactly I started noticing them, but recently, it seems like anytime I'm working out—at the gym, in a hotel or at a specialty fitness class, there are more and more On sneakers popping up. The shoes are instantly recognizable, thanks to the Swiss brand's signature CloudTec outsole—a scalloped layer of pocketed, ultra-responsive cushioning.

Roger Federer and the On design team
Roger Federer and the On design team
Roger Federer and the On design team

The unique shoes have developed a cult-like following among runners, especially in Europe, but have slowly and steadily been building their allegiances among athletes here in America as of late. While the Zurich-based brand isn't exactly new— it was co-founded in 2010 by a former Ironman winner and two friends—it's still an under-the-radar brand that had eluded me. Of course, that might change now that fellow Swiss native Roger Federer invested a "substantial amount" when joining up with the brand earlier this month.

It's clear that On has become a brand to know, but I was curious about just what set the shoes apart from other training sneakers. Well, for starters, that sole is actually patented. Engineered to deliver a soft landing followed by an explosive take-off, the lightweight Helion foam is easy on joints while still being incredibly responsive. That kind of universal comfort and performance is what apparently makes it so versatile. The signature speed-lacing system lets your foot slip in and out with ease, yet keeps the shoe firmly in place on the move—meaning no blisters or alignment problems.

On Cloud Sneaker

Cloud, $129.98

On Cloud X Sneaker

Cloud X, $139.99

Rhys Athayde, the founding trainer at the exclusive Dogpound gym, says that the shoes exist at the intersection of "function, comfort, and style." That's why they're equally as good at road running, treadmills, workout classes or just walking around all day. Which, I'm told, is exactly how the team of Swiss engineers test the shoes—each design is put through the paces by Olympians, triathletes and every other stripe of athlete, everywhere from city streets to the rugged trails of the Swiss alps.

"I think On has really nailed a perfect balance of story, technology and style," says Ben O'Meara of Huckberry, one of the first American retailers to carry the brand. "A lot of sneaker brands out there hit on one of the three, but they really have authority in all." He makes a good point: the shoes are engineered in Switzerland, used and trusted by the world's most elite athletes and packaged in a design that's clean and minimal yet uniquely stylish.

"I appreciate that genuine authority in performance, but also it's approachable as a brand," says O'Meara, who owns a couple pairs and recently tested out On's new hiker in the Swiss Alps himself. "They're super comfortable, look good and they actually do have a technical quality you don't see in other casual shoes flooding the market."

For a while, fitness model and personal trainer Jordan Morello was the only one wearing Ons when he'd train at Equinox or LA Fitness clubs. He made the switch about a year ago, after being turned on to the brand by a marathon-running friend. "I'm super brand loyal and have worn Nike shoes and clothing pretty much my whole life," he says. "But when something is by far better, I have to give credit where credit is due!" Now, he says, he notices a lot more of the distinctive sneakers in the gym when he trains. "I definitely think they're becoming something of a status sneaker."

He wears his Cloud sneakers pretty much everyday—in and out of the gym—and says they're the most comfortable training shoe he's ever worn. "They've got a stable base, great for doing heavier squats or certain Olympic lifts—especially since I've got a wider foot," he says. "And then they also provide a soft, comfortable ride for a quick outdoor run." Morello has even turned five clients onto the shoes: "And they have never been happier."

Perhaps that's how a sneaker becomes a status shoe. Genuine word of mouth and seeing them on the people we admire. We'd all like to be more like Roger Federer, right? And if I crossed paths with Jordan Morello at the gym, I'd definitely want anything that he says helps him train. The good news seems to be that these buzzy kicks actually live up to the hype. Which is why I think I'm ready to join the club and get a pair myself.

On Cloud Terry Sneaker

Cloud Terry, $149.99

On Cloud Dip Sneaker

Cloud Dip, $160

FYI

In June 2018, On launched the Cloudace running shoe with a 24-hour round-the-world relay.

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