Isolating graphene — an allotrope of carbon that is the thinnest and strongest material yet discovered — was a breakthrough that won researchers at the University of Manchester the Nobel Prize for physics in 2004. And for 2018, British brand Inov-8 is banking on it for footwear, infusing the material into outsoles in its new G-Series family of performance shoes.
Inov-8 worked with a research team from the University of Manchester for the past year to create a footwear application of the material. And according to Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan, reader in Nanomaterials at the University of Manchester, the resulting compound is worth the wait.
“Our unique formulation makes these outsoles 50 percent stronger, 50 percent more stretchy and 50 percent more resistant to wear than the corresponding industry standard rubber outsoles without graphene,” he said.
For Fall ’18, the brand will use the compound in three styles: a trail runner designed for long distances on hard-pack trails; a style designed for soft, muddy surfaces or obstacle courses; and a trainer made for Crossfit or the gym.
More styles will follow in 2019. Calling it a “key growth driver” for the brand, Inov-8 product and marketing director Michael Price said, “By 2020, 50 percent of the inov-8 footwear range will be graphene-enhanced. The potential of graphene really is limitless."