Sneakers for a Life in MotionWritten by Christy C
Tired of shopping for speciality trainers pigeonholed by different sporty activities, sneakerheads and brothers James and Josh Shorrock created a brand to cater to the everyday athlete in all of us.
For many, shopping for sneakers means buying a pair for almost every occasion. “When I was working at adidas, I’d wear one pair of shoes to the gym, another one for work, another for shooting around playing basketball, another one if I was going out,” says Josh Shorrock. Now, with his Hong Kong-based activewear brand LANE EIGHT founded alongside his brother James, he aims to change that. Having debuted their first design, Trainer AD1, in August, the two founders now want to build a brand on their core idea of versatile sportiness. They sat down with us to tell us how.
Back in 2017, the Shorrock brothers, who’ve always shared the dream of doing something together, began tinkering with the idea of creating multifunctional footwear, largely because they couldn’t see a product that fit the bill on the market. “Industrywide, footwear is functionally divided into different categories, such as running, football, and lifestyle,” says Josh. Strict rules on product development and cut-throat competition can make even interdepartmental collaboration next to impossible, which is why brands tended to have a niche focus on one type of sport when designing their shoes. “It was very difficult to find one crossover product built for multiple sports,” he explains.
Both brothers had experience in the footwear industry that placed them well to move on this space. Josh had worked in the football department at adidas, overseeing the production of their footwear, whilst James had worked as an editor at cult streetwear-focused site HYPEBEAST, one of the most beloved destinations for sneakerheads around the world. “We thought, if we could make one shoe that took elements from each of those categories so that it could do a bit of everything, we could offer something different to the market,” says Josh. Not that it’s an easy market to move on. “Footwear is probably not the thing that anyone should do as their first business, because it’s really tough,” recounts James. “But, starting a business is one of those things where the timing’s never gonna be right. We’re now in our mid and late 20s, it’s going to get increasingly difficult to justify doing this. So, instead of coming up with an excuse for why the timing isn’t right, we wanted to commit fully to it by quitting our jobs.” In May 2017, they did just that, bootstrapping their idea to make it fly.
First up, they had to get their product in the process. “When we went to the factory and saw our first sample, it was a heart-stopping moment. The shoe was terrible, all the proportions were way off, it didn’t look like a real shoe,” recalls Josh. “But still, that was the biggest highlight throughout the journey,” adds James, proudly. “Even though it was bad, it was still such a moment to see something that had previously just existed as sketches now being brought to life.”
One year and six to seven samples later, the duo finally landed on the product that fit their vision. Featuring a midsole made from ETPU, a durable synthetic material similar to the adidas BOOST technology, Trainer AD1 guarantees stability and supports all forms of movement, whether you’re doing circuit training or chasing after the bus. It is designed to flex naturally with your motion and encase your foot in comfort with its breathable knitted upper, mid-foot lacing and soft neck collar, giving you a sock-like fit. Suede overlays on the upper and an abrasion-resistant design give your toes an extra layer of protection, whilst three different colour options give your fashion style some options.
Sporting the trainers today himself, Josh explains, “Everything was considered, not just from the performance point of view, but also the aesthetic point of view.” And so far, crowds seem to agree. Since its debut online in August, Trainer AD1 has received a glowing response. Riding the momentum, the brothers promise to put out more colourways for the USD 160 trainers by the end of the year and have plans to move beyond sneakers into apparel and accessories in the future, with the same motive in mind. “We want to build an activewear brand that creates versatile products for ordinary people like us, who play sports, but aren’t necessarily professional athletes, something that fits people’s everyday lives.”
“It starts with shoes, but it won’t end with shoes,” James hints of their future. And, in the face of stiff competition from prominent players, the boys are still as fearless and determined as their brand name suggests. “We may be on ‘LANE EIGHT’, one of the hardest trekking lanes on the field to be starting in – being newcomers in the industry, being two young guys – but we’re still in the race, we plan on seeing it though, and we plan on winning.”