On started ten years ago when multiple Ironman winner Olivier Bernhard involved his pals Caspar Copetti and David Allemann in developing a revolutionary new running shoe. He had no idea for the shoe at the beginning, only that he was seeking a new ”running sensation” and it was paramount to keep the concept of a soft landing and firm takeoff. Many prototypes later, Cloudtec was born. The product turned heads immediately and it won an ISPO Award for innovation in 2010. And, there the race began to get the company set up and shoes on the shelves.
Fabio Lenzlinger, International Sales, how’d you describe the time since?
— The past 10 years have gone like a whirlwind. It feels like within a blink of an eye we are selling in over 50 countries with 7 Headquarters across the globe. It’s incredible. How we got there? There were great things like being born at a similar time when Instagram was growing. But, most importantly, it’s the belief in the product and the great connectivity with community, from Swiss Olympian Nicola Spirig showing how she balances her career with motherhood to Ironman Tim Don opening his doors to us during his battle back to elite competition after suffering a broken neck or the On Athlete Refugee team who are qualified to represent themselves in the Olympics. All in our shoes.
For those who don’t know, what is Cloudtec?
— It’s our patented technology, engineered to deliver a soft landing followed by an explosive take-off, says Lenzlinger.
He describes the result as ”an unbelievably light running sensation” with no compromise on cushioning and impact protection.
— Cloudtec is a market disruptor. Think how carving skis revolutionised the skiing industry, We’ve done the same in the running industry.
Each sole comprises a group of individual collapsable elements that On calls ”clouds”.
— These absorb impact no matter how the runner lands, instead of the same motion happening throughout the sole, says Lenzlinger. The elements all have the individual ability to move multi-directionally, both forward and back, and side to side. They work together thanks to the single plate in the midsole, called a speedboard, which keeps the running going in the same direction. The energy will transfer back no matter how you land, thus the feeling of running on clouds.
A while back, when the brand heard that Roger Federer, who’s also a self-confessed sneakerhead, was a fan of On’s shoes, he spent some time with the founders before joining the company.
— Then, Roger and us set out to reinvent the classic tennis sneaker using the latest comfort technology, says Lenzlinger, continuing,
— The result is called The Roger and, so far, we’ve released the Centre Court silhouette after famed Wimbledon ground, which is a timeless piece, and the Clubhouse, which has a wider look and more of a younger feel. We are proud to use vegan leather to reduce our environmental footprint. The collection is different from our regular shoes, as the Cloudtec elements are hidden within the shoe to ensure the look doesn’t deviate from the classic silhouette of a tennis shoe. But if you flip it upside sown you can see both the speedboard and cloud elements are all there.
What else do you have coming?
— We’ve just developed a fully recyclable shoe made from beans. And, it’s a shoe no one can ever own. Seriously! It’s called Cyclon and the reason why you can’t own it is because we want to ensure it comes back to us to recycle after use to become another Cyclon again, ensuring the production and use goes full circle.
So, how do you get your hands on a pair?
— Easy, it’s given to customers on a subscription basis [previously described by us here] and when you are done with them you can simply send them back and you get a new pair. This is the ultimate move a company can make in producing sustainable goods. And it makes me very proud, says Lenzlinger.