Nike's latest runner, the LunarEpic Flyknit, is anything but conventional. It's a statement piece of footwear that combines the brand's recent tendency toward extending a shoe's design well past the ankle with a new manufacturing tech on the soles.
Innovation on the LunarEpic Flyknit starts at the base. On bottom is a piston system, something like a topographical map, that gives a unique response to different parts of the foot. This system and the linear incisions running along the midsole are created with laser-siping, a technology allowing for precise cuts that enhance flexibility. The Lunarlon cushioning carrying these incisions is a dual density ride, using heat to fuse together its IU shell and the softer IP foam within.
The upper consists of a single piece of Flyknit that switches densities to zone in on the arch, heel and forefoot. Flywire cables provide support, as does a translucent skin around the heel.
The shoe is most striking at its apex, where a Flyknit collar caps off the model. This piece is reflective of a larger trend in Nike design, introduced in soccer boots like the Magista and spreading to other categories: Nike Sportswear has its own take on the Magista, Nike SB's recently debuted Koston 3 goes up the ankle with Flyknit and the KD 8 Elite, unveiled this week, takes things even further. While the LunarEpic name refers to the sole's Lunarlon foam, it also has a convenient overlap with the moonboot shape of this runner.
At first glance the model looks somewhat intrusive, and maybe even counter to Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman's intent of making shoes that runners could barely recognize as being on their feet. Thankfully, while the Flyknit collar is impossible to ignore visually, it feels like a natural extension of the foot more than an external bit of design flair when you're actually running in it. When you're wearing a glove it goes all the way up to your wrist, so why not let shoes give the same level of coverage?
The Nike LunarEpic Flyknit ($175) is available now in a load of colorways via Nikestore here. Also available now is a limited NikeLab colorway, a sleek blackout take on the shoe that's an in-store exclusive at global NikeLab locations.