April 25, 2009: Spira shoes is trying to revolutionize the active footwear category, which is a daunting task even with a giant such as Disney on your side. The El Paso, Texas-based company, founded in 2002 by Andrew Krafsur and his brother, David, uses what it calls "WaveSpring" technology in its shoes, which features two stainless steel springs embedded in the soles, to set itself apart from Nike, adidas, New Balance, Asics and others. However, USA Track and Field, the governing body for track and field, long distance running and race walking, has banned the shoes, saying they give wearers an unfair advantage. Krafsur likens this to the oversized metal tennis rackets that were banned by the sport but eventually gave birth to Prince Tennis, aluminum bats that revolutionized baseball and metal drivers that changed golf. "Often, the rules of sports don't keep pace with technological advances," said Krafsur. "But the benefit of our technology is better shoes not just for dedicated runners but for everyone." He claims the technology reduces peak impact forces by about 20% over traditional midsole materials and cuts down on injuries related to running. Athletic footwear sales were $12.4 billion in 2008 – which represented a 4.3% drop from $12.9 in 2007, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Assn. Still,the running/jogging category topped $3.1 billion.
Disney has bought into the Spira philosophy and is now is the second year of a three-year deal making Spira the official performance footwear sponsor of Disney's Endurance Series at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. That includes the Disneyland Half Marathon, Disney's Half Mathon Weekend sponsored by Lady Foot Locker, The Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna and other events throughout the year. The company is supporting its product with a recently released campaign, overseen in-house, "InSPIRAtional," which features such people as Dick Hoyt and his son Rick, who is confined to a wheel chair with cerebral palsy, but who together have competed in more than 900 race events, including more than 60 marathons. World renowned runner Arturo Barrios also endorses the running wear. Spira also is working with Leverage, New York, to spread the word about new lines that include work boots and upcoming basketball SKUs. The athletic lines are available at specialty stores nationwide and online at Zappos.com. Back to Home Page