Yesterday, a Missouri-based company called So iLL launched a Kickstarter campaign for four models of high performance climbing shoes that look like a pair of your favorite vintage kicks. The campaign was funded in five hours and had more than doubled its goal by the end of the day.
The project, which took three years, aimed to create a shoe that both performs well and looks good. If you’ve shopped for climbing shoes recently, you may have noticed that the market is saturated with gear that doesn’t always meet the later requirement—particularly in women’s lines where shoe makers play up gendered clichés with pink accents and sometimes even flowers.
So iLL, which is known for its quirky climbing holds, took inspiration from retro athletic shoes to create the designs for the new line. The muse for each model is in the name—the Bowler is reminiscent of footwear you’d rent at a bowling alley, while the Kick and the Runner look like shoes you’d throw on to play a game of soccer or go for a jog. The most aggressive shoes, the Street, are solid black and remind us of a pair of Adidas Sambas.
The So iLL climbing shoes don’t just look cool. The company also considered function so the shoes are made from synthetic materials which means the shoe will continue to fit after many uses (leather shoes will stretch). Technical features include breathable mesh on the top of the shoe, velcro closures and special rubber called “Dark Matter” that was originally created for Navy Seals. The shoes are also competitively priced—the cost of a pledge ranges from $69 to $99 for a pair.
We had a hard time choosing which shoe to back but we finally opted for the Runners because of the down-turned toe (which we prefer to have on routes or problems that require more precise footwork).
The shoes are estimated to be delivered by June of 2016. You can back the project here to secure your pair.