March 9, 2023

Super Shoes (High Performance Footwear) in 2023

ARRIS Composites’ new report provides insights into Americans’ use and opinions on “super shoes” or high-performance footwear in 2023.

Super Shoes in 2023: 59% of super shoe owners have raced wearing their shoes, and 100% of them believe the super shoes helped their performance.

As Americans strive to enhance their running performance at the gym, on the track, or in competitions, ‘super shoes’ are gaining more and more attention. The high-performance footwear, which has features intended to improve a runner’s performance, has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Here at ARRIS Composites, we collaborate with top brands to create even lighter, stronger, and more sustainable performance footwear that helps everyone, from elite athletes to running enthusiasts, reach their full potential. Brands with super shoes offerings have major performance metrics to hit, and the stakes are high. Running shoes with carbon-fiber plates have been an ongoing topic of controversy in recent years, and it’s about to get even more controversial as enhancements level up in ways not previously possible. By leveraging emerging tech such as Additive Molding, teams of footwear developers can supercharge already super shoes. 

To understand consumers’ attitudes and preferences on the heels of what’s coming next, we recently surveyed 1,000 Americans about super shoes in the market today (methodology and other details below).

What are Super Shoes & Who is Using Them?

The term “super shoes” is used to describe a new generation of running shoes with advanced technology and design features intended to improve a runner’s performance. These shoes typically have a thick midsole made of lightweight foam that provides high levels of cushioning and energy return, as well as a carbon fiber plate that runs through the midsole to increase propulsion and reduce fatigue.

“The carbon fiber space has a wide range of capabilities to enhance athletic footwear, and while many of the top brands are already leveraging state-of-the-art carbon fiber technologies in unmatched ways for super shoes, there are still serious limitations that the consumers likely don’t know about,” said Michelle Callan, Director of Footwear Programs at ARRIS. “For example, footwear development teams want to break free from the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to making carbon plates, a major design and manufacturing hurdle until now. With ARRIS, brands can fine-tune the performance of carbon plates for every shoe size—that’s a first-of-its-kind advantage for consumers and professional athletes alike, as it reduces the risk of injury during training while simultaneously improving performance and further reducing weight.”

While super shoes may be growing in popularity, the majority of the American public (92%) don’t know what they are… Among the 8% who are familiar with the type of shoe, 27% own a pair.

Runners & Super Shoes

41% of Americans consider themselves runners. Researchers and runners both agree that shoes can impact performance; in fact, 92% of runners believe the shoes they wear can impact how far and how fast they run. Right now, it seems as though super shoes are drawing the most attention from people who take performance seriously. Among the 1 in 4 who consider themselves serious runners, 52% own super shoes.

Owning Super Shoes in 2023

Americans’ Favorite Qualities and Improvements Needed in Super Shoes (High-Performance Footwear) Infographic from ArrisComposites.com

Super shoes are receiving positive reviews from their owners. In fact, 100% of people who own a pair like them. When it comes to cost, Americans paid an average of $130 for one pair.

Among super shoe wearers, their favorite qualities of the footwear include being lightweight (68%), comfortability (64%), being able to run longer (55%), helping with pain (50%), and running faster (36%). As for what improvements people would like to see in super shoes? Style/color top the list, followed by longevity, support, and flexibility. 

The majority (82%) of people report using their super shoes for running. Other top activities include walking, playing sports, strength training, and using them in competitions or races. In fact, 59% of super shoe owners have competed in a race wearing their shoes and 100% of them believe the super shoes helped their performance. Additionally, more than 1 in 3 (36%) wearers say they feel more sore after using super shoes compared to other footwear.

“New levels of design freedom made possible with cutting-edge tech allow brands to genuinely address consumer feedback,” said Callan. “Without the ability to push the boundaries of how carbon plates are created, it’s a smaller audience who really benefits from super shoes. It’s not made for everyone now, but it could be.”

Not only are super shoes helping physical performance, but 91% saying wearing the shoes give them more confidence in their athletic abilities. Among people who don’t own super shoes currently, 53% are considering buying them in 2023.

Americans & Super Shoes

Americans Interest in Super Shoes (High Performance Footwear) Infographic from ArrisComposites.com

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans feel it’s very important to have the latest technologies in footwear. Nearly 1 in 2 (45%) say social media has impacted their view of super shoes and 37% have felt influenced to buy super shoes from social media. For those who have never heard of super shoes, after being given a definition, 76% said they’d be interested in using them.

Athletic Shoes & Performance in 2023

The majority of Americans (93%) believe athletic shoes impact performance and 83% are interested in buying running shoes that could improve their performance. Additionally, 72% would feel more confident going into races wearing super shoes. On the other hand, nearly 1 in 5 (17%) think super shoes give athletes an unfair advantage (learn more about super shoe approval by World Athletics). 

Among those who own super shoes, they have an average of 4 pairs of running shoes. Those who don’t own them, on average have 2 pairs of running shoes. The top qualities Americans look for in running shoes overall include support, lightweight, cushioning, durability, and breathability. More than half (57%) of Americans say sustainability in how athletic shoes are made is important to them. 

“Traditional carbon fiber used in industries including footwear are extremely wasteful,” said Callan. “We should all be moving towards more sustainable processes in manufacturing and in all other aspects of life especially with shoes.”

Technological advancements in running shoes matter to consumers for various reasons, including sustainability, not just enhanced performance. With innovations such as Additive Molding, product teams can further reduce carbon emissions and manufacturing waste, plus increase the use of recyclable and even bio-based materials. As passionate runners ourselves, the ARRIS team understands the impact of manufacturing innovation on athletic footwear. And this is just the beginning.

Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of super shoes or an experienced runner getting ready for your next race, ARRIS is dedicated to your favorite brands that are pushing the boundaries of footwear innovation for a better run and a better world.

Related Posts

Check out related posts to learn even more about next-gen carbon plates for athletic footwear.

  • Manufacturing Happy Hour: Episode #117 with Riley Reese [ LISTEN ]
  • Carbon-Fiber Plate Running Shoes: World Athletics Meets Additive Molding [ READ ]
  • Q&A: Additive Molding for Performance Footwear [ READ ]



Media Inquiries: Contact media@digitalthirdcoast.net or media@arriscomposites.com.

Methodology: In February 2023, a survey was conducted with 1,004 people from across the U.S. who report getting at least 60 minutes of exercise per week. The average age was 39 years old with 49% identifying as male, 49% as female, and 2% as non-binary or transgender.

Fair Use: When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing ARRIS Composites (arriscomposites.com).

Image Credit: ARRIS


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