Brand spotlight: On – Everything you need to know about the running brand

From our favorite pieces of kit to speaking to the co-founder about where the brand is heading
Brand spotlight: On

Few brands over the past decade have had the sort of meteoric rise that On have seen in the running space. A growth in popularity that is even more noticeable due to the unique design of the various products used by runners around the world.

In our spotlight series, we take a detailed look at the brands around the world worth noticing, asking questions about where they've come from, what they stand for and where they're hoping to go in the future. Here we look at On, speaking to the team behind the brand as well as giving a rundown of the products they offer that have caught our eye.

Who are On?

Against most large-scale running brands, the history of On is relatively short, beginning in 2010 when former professional athlete Olivier Bernhard and his friends David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti came together to develop a new type of running shoe.

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

Olivier, a three-time world duathlon champion and multiple Ironman winner developed dozens of prototypes with the primary focusing being a cushioned landing and a firm take-off.

Less than a year later the final prototypes were available in running stores and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich published a study that claimed runners wearing On shoes had lower pulse rates and lower blood lactate levels.

From there the brand has gone on to create a vast range of active products, from increasing its selection of running shoes for different types of athlete, to trail shoes, hiking boots and now its most recent addition, a collection of shoes designed for the lifestyle market.

The product technology

At its core On's popularity has, in part, been down to the unique way it has developed its footwear over the past decade. According to the founders, those very early prototype models were tested by replacing the outsole of a shoe with that rubber hosepipe material positioned in parallel lines.

The Founders give us tasks, how we tackle and complete them is up to us as a team

Why was that important? Well, according to the team, the mechanics of most running shoe soles have a limited amount of directional movement - whereas the circular 'Cloudtec' design of their shoes means that the material can react with the complete range of a runner's motion. Here's a video that explains that in more detail.

Since the inception of that idea, On has stuck firmly to the concept, modifying and developing features across the range whilst holding on to the archetypal cloud outsole shape.

In that design is its proprietary Speedboard - a liquid-injected plate of thermoplastic polymer sitting between the midsole and the upper. The purpose is to engage every step of a run with a compressed and soft landing before it flexes for a high degree of energy return.

Recently, On added in its own proprietary foam to those outsoles, a material known as Helion foam, developed to be lightweight yet durable as well as deliver energy return and temperature resistance - i.e. it won't soften in the heat or harder in the cold, two factors that can massively change the dynamics of a run.

What do the team have to say?

There are certain things we all want to know about a brand, from how it's tackling climate and sustainability issues to what the main focus is over the coming months. We spoke to On Co-Founder, David Allemann to get the details on the things we think our important.

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

What is the brand's position on sustainability?

“This is a very important topic that is dear to the three founders. On has just hired a person dedicating her work to the topic of sustainability, which is so broad. We have an innovation team working on the newest trends and possibilities in sustainable shoe-making and materials, and we are doing what we can to reduce waste in our offices.

We have no fix seating rules, so you rarely sit next to the same people two days in a row. As a newbie it can be quite intimidating to suddenly realize you’re sitting next to one of the three founders

“The new HQ office in Zurich is being designed and built with sustainability on the top of the architect’s minds. On is constantly working and improving and there is so much more to come.”

How will fitness and outdoor industry will change in the next five years and how will On adapt?

“We believe the Outdoor trend will remain stable over the coming years – hiking and trail running is very en vogue, also with younger people. To spend time in nature away from the cities and electronic pollution is the perfect digital detox. At the same time, we at On believe that the mountains are the perfect place to find new ideas and inspiration.

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

“We also believe that the boundaries between a work and leisure outfit will further adapt. The boundaries are already not as clear as they used to be several years ago. Today, in many companies it is accepted to go to work in a pair of sneakers, something On believes will further develop.”



How is the brand different than others out there?

“On’s unique Cloud technology has been groundbreaking in the running industry. The CloudTec was the first technology in running that has been able to combine a soft cushioning with a fast, explosive take-off.

“The new technology is not only something to talk about; everybody who steps into an On shoe for the first time immediately feels a difference – it’s like an “Ah” moment that makes you curious. In addition, the minimalist, sleek design of the On shoe is definitely different.”

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

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What is your relationship with consumers and how do they shape the development of your products?

"Obviously, we are convinced that we have the best consumers. We wouldn’t be where we are without them. Thanks for making On the fastest growing running shoe brand on the planet and the brand who gains fans the fastest! When On was founded, the three founders strongly believed that they wanted to make shoes from athletes for athletes.

Hierarchies are very low. It doesn’t matter if you’re an intern or a long-term employee in a leading position – everybody is encouraged to voice his/her opinion

“But athletes doesn’t have to mean pro athletes, it’s everybody who goes for a run. That said, the consumer’s feedback is crucial. We have already implemented several adaptions into different models that came from consumers and On will definitely continue to do so.”

What are On's most popular products?

“This can vary from region to region, but overall it’s the Cloud family that is very popular all over the world, as well as the outdoor Cloudventure family. On’s brand-new and very first hiking shoe, the Cloudrock has been even better accepted on the market than we dared to dream of.

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

“This is something that On as a Swiss brand is very proud of. Looking at apparel, we are impressed with how much our consumers share On’s love for the Performance and Comfort T and the Weather Jacket”

Product guide

From the launch of the original Cloud shoe, On has gone on to produce a massive range of products, with shoes designed for different distances to trail shoes, hiking boots, apparel and now its latest range of lifestyle footwear aiming to take the same technology and applying it to daywear.

Here we select those standout products from the range. Combining the core items the brand is synonymous with alongside those we've tested that have impressed us over the previous months.

Cloudflow

Buy now: Men / Women | $139.99

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

The Cloudflow is On's longer distance running and race shoe, designed to be lightweight whilst still offering some responsive cushioning.

The focus is for speed over 10km, half marathon, marathon, tempo running and long interval sessions combining a heap of On's technical features - most importantly the Eva foam outsole and Speedboard. Interestingly it was also the shoe used to break the Ironman world record in 2017.

Cloudace

Buy now: Men / Women | $139.99

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

Designed with support in mind, the Cloudace takes elements from the On range to add additional cushioning and an extra wide Speedboard. In testing, we've found these are best placed as a training shoe if you're used to racing in lighter footwear.

They're one of the most durable options that On offer and the thicker outsole will keep you covered for a good while before you need to replace them.

Cloudswift

Buy now: Men / Women | $139.99

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

Tailored towards the less competitive runner, the Cloudswift is On's option for those doing shorter road running.

The outsole includes Helion Superfoam, a soft bouncy material designed to give a nice level of energy return, as well as a good level of grip on different road surfaces.

For us, the Cloudswift is probably the best option if you want a really nice looking trainer that you can wear for a run, the gym or even just to go to work in. It'll do a good job for road running up to 10k and even racing, but it won't have the tougher, more durable outsole of the Cloudflow or the Cloudace.

Waterproof Anorak

Buy now: Men / Women | $139.99

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

A recent addition to the On apparel collection, the Waterproof Anorak is an extremely lightweight running jacket that incorporates a number of nice technical features.

Made with a three-layer membrane for water and windproofing, the material is made with Hydrophilic technology, which basically means that the Waterproof Anorak becomes more breathable the more you sweet.

There's also a couple of hidden vents in the front of the jacket as well as an inside pocket which acts as a tiny carry case for the jacket if you need to store it somewhere.

Hybrid Shorts

Buy now: Men / Women | $139.99

Brand spotlight: On - Everything you need to know about the running company

The Hybrid Shorts are one of our favorite pieces of race kit from the On range. Cleverly combing a very nice pair of elasticated inner shorts to stop chaffing and a light, stretchy outer pair.

They're connected by a little button inside, which means you can wear them independently or just take out the inners if you don't want to get too hot. They also have pockets in both parts of the shorts, which is probably the main reason we're a big fan.

Latest release

Cloud Hi

Buy now: Men / Women | $169.99

Brand spotlight: On – Everything you need to know about the running brand

On's latest drop isn't targeted towards the active market, but it does incorporate technology used across the running shoe range. That includes the popular Speedboard, the CloudTec outsole as well as the addition of vegan leather and suede uppers.

Expect a high level of cushioning and support as well as an outsole grip designed for mutliple surfaces, from road to outdoors.


Tags:    Running
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