Steven Spielberg’s 1989 classic Back to the Future Part II wasn’t too far off when estimating that hoverboards and self-drying jackets would be around by 2015. But what about shoes that can make you jump higher or run faster? Adam & Ryan Goldston, Millennial twins from Los Angeles and founders of Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL), have invented technology for a basketball shoe that compresses energy to propel a wearer’s vertical leap by 3.5 inches.
MiLLENNiAL spent the afternoon with the founders at their prestigious APL headquarters, located at LA Center Studios. Overlooking the powerful Downtown Los Angeles skyline, their lavish office was decorated with colorful athletic shoes spewed around the floor, and boxes of fresh inventory lining the window wall. With smiles from ear to ear, the Goldston brothers greeted and lead us into their own private Footer Locker-esque show room where APL’s history lined the walls, displaying a vast amount of product and years of growth. Clearly this was not an over-night success. In fact, the twins have been working on Athletic Propulsion Labs shoes for the last 10 years.
As teenagers, Adam and Ryan dreamed of inventing a shoe that would enable them to jump higher, giving them a competitive advantage on the basketball court. Their vision began to materialize as freshmen at the University of Southern California (USC) when they began designing the technology for their advanced shoe on a glass table in their dorm room. By senior year, Ryan showcased a mock prototype to his entrepreneurship class where his professor told him his product would never make it to market. Fifteen months after graduating, Athletic Propulsion Labs debuted their first line for preorder. And the glass table? Well, they keep it in the office as a reminder of the early days.
But these aren’t your average Millennials with a wild idea. Their dad was the inventor of those famous LA Gear Lights – which had every 90s kid lighting up sidewalks and bouncing off jungle gyms just to make their shoes twinkle. They were even the first product testers for the classic shoe. Now at 27, they are creating their own legacy. Adam tells MiLLENNiAL, “We grew up in the shoe industry,” so being surrounded by engineers and designers was a natural part of life. Although the twins went to school for business, they do consider themselves “practical engineers,” a title that would soon prove true.
On October 19, 2010, the NBA caught word of Athletic Propulsion Labs product and decided to ban the shoe. Their decision set off a digital fire alarm and within 72 hours, APL sold nine months worth of inventory (each retailing at $300), and had over 1 million articles written about them. This skyrocketed the Athletic Propulsion Labs brand into a league they weren’t expecting so quickly.
Athletic Propulsion Labs Lifts Design
With a sleek and creative approach to basketball shoe design, and an incredible technology that literally enhances performance, APL creates elevated Concept fashion. Emulating everything from luxury cars to computers, the Goldston brothers are taking footwear to the next level by telling a story with their apparel.
Concept 1 – The Supercar
Ryan tells us that the automotive industry’s “high-class and experimental cars mostly shown at car shows” were used to inspire the design of their first series, the Concept 1. “The concept cars are always the craziest, coolest cars there and we wanted our shoes to be similar. We wanted to create a concept basketball shoe line,” he explains.
Concept 2 – Luxury Performance
Concept 2 took a slightly different approach by focusing on the inside of luxury cars. Blending together performance and beauty, the Concept 2 “was a throwback to supercars of the past.” They used the 1960 Bugatti and the 1961 Jaguar among many other favorites found in Pebble Beach as the main inspiration for designing the quality shoe, combining fine leathers with luxury performance technology.
Concept 3 – Electronics
Concept 3 went in a completely different direction – microprocessors. Their passion for all things electronic, and fascination with Disney’s Tron, made the Concept 3 their most unique and trendiest shoe yet. With computers as the inspiration, APL chose to design a style that subtly fits with most outfits, regardless of whether you are on the court or running errands around town.
In honor of their grandmother’s passing, they released a special edition Concept 3 Breast Cancer Awareness Month pink basketball shoe last October (2013).
Nothing on the market today resembles nor functions like Athletic Propulsion Labs shoes. “The thing about our technology is that it makes you your personal best,” Adam proudly says of his product. But in regards to creating an unfair advantage among competitors, “It’s not meant for competing against someone who is 6’7. That would be like Space Jam…but if you want to take your game to the highest level then you wear APL shoes.”
In addition to basketball shoes, this summer APL will be debuting a running line along with socks and clothing. And of course their apparel is designed to coordinate with their footwear. “For us it is about creating a constant story and making sure that everything connects,” Ryan elaborates.
With the fitness apparel industry monopolized by a handful of corporations, the Athletic Propulsion Labs’ success is a testament to how the market is evolving, and as Ryan mentions, “how consumers are craving stuff that makes them a better athlete.” If Athletic Propulsion Labs shoe design and technology is any indication of their fashion to come, companies like Nike and Adidas better watch out.