Cultural phenomena spread like viruses, becoming increasingly popular on its road to prominence and omnipresence. So much so that losing track of how quickly said trend has grown over a short amount of time is all but promised.
This is the story of the Ultra Boost, a model adidas pegged "The Greatest Running Shoe Ever” upon its January 2015 launch.
If the Ultra Boost was the protagonist in a television series called ‘The Sneaker World,’ in just two years, the shoe has seen Emmy-worthy character development. That includes evolutions, and in some cases, full-fledged transformations. But like anything great, the DNA doesn’t deviate far from its roots: a woven Primeknit upper, Boost cushioning on the midsole, and a rubber outsole.
Stadium Goods breaks down where the Ultra Boost began, its growth, and the models that forecast its immediate future. See the evolution of the Ultra Boost below.
Ultra Boost 1.0 (2015)
The genesis of the Ultra Boost arrived amid a masterful yearlong rollout of new adidas product that also included the NMD and Kanye West’s YEEZY line.
The former is an amalgam of classic Three Stripes models and the latter is a famous creative’s way of getting out his dreams – meanwhile, the Ultra Boost is a sneaker unlike any previously released.
Through the integration of Boost technology, adidas created a product that return every ounce of energy that runners put out. But the model proved to have some duality, as the fashion community quickly embraced the Ultra Boost due to its comfort (and some help from West, an early endorser).
Ultra Boost 2.0 (2016)
Of course, success is great and all, but no product can continue to prosper without making a few adjustments. In turn, adidas responded to complaints that the thin outsole was the Ultra Boost’s Achilles heel in the best possible way – by adding Continental rubber traditionally used to create tires.
With additional durability all but promised, adidas made some other modifications to the Ultra Boost with the 2.0. The most noticeable being an updated pattern on the Primeknit, featuring a gradient fade.
Ultra Boost Uncaged (2016)
As the Ultra Boost’s profile grew larger, an Internet trend arose where wearers would remove the plastic caging system to slim down the silhouette and increase mobility.
The good folks at adidas took notice and introduced the Ultra Boost Uncaged, featuring an uncaged silhouette grounded by a woven Primeknit upper. The caging system bearing Three Stripes branding on the lateral and medial sides were omitted from the design. The heel cage, however, remains in tact.
Purecontrol Ultra Boost (2016)
It took years of trial and error for adidas to release lifestyle products that truly resonated with customers, but one sector the German brand has always been well versed in is soccer.
Given how popular the Ultra Boost has become (as well as the Yeezy and NMD), the Three Stripes brand introduced the ACE 16+ Purecontrol Ultra Boost in 2016 – a soccer-inspired model grounded by a lifestyle aesthetic. The cageless sneaker features a sock-like mid-top silhouette, with Primeknit construction, a traditional heel cage, and full-length Boost cushioning.
Many of the same design cues appear on the next iteration, the ACE 17+ Purecontrol Ultra Boost, which propelled to the shoe to prominence thanks to the "Champagne" colorway and the KITH Flamingos version from Ronnie Fieg's 2017 collab.
Ultra Boost 3.0 (2016)
By now you've noticed that a major part of the Ultra Boost's success lies in adidas continuing to find ways to make it better. Enter the Ultra Boost 3.0, the latest iteration of the shoe, featuring a thicker woven Primeknit upper for comfort and support. Other noteworthy design changes include the translucent caging system and an updated patter on the Primeknit.
Ultra Boost Mid (2016)
The Ultra Boost Mid model was first introduced just before Christmas 2016 via a collaboration between Ronnie Fieg and adidas. Any murmurs that amended silhouette was an one-off were quelled when adidas Consortium dropped the "Run Thru Time" pair this year.
Both releases have common details, none more apparent than the heightened sock-like ankle. Another noteworthy design change is the noticeably missing Three Stripes cage overlay (Ronnie Fieg’s version features overlay panels, the “Run Thru Time” pair sees the branding interwoven throughout the Primeknit). Additional padding, which work in conjunction to keep the wearer's foot secure. The clean white heel cage matches the Boost midsole and pull tab on the heel to round out the release.
Ultra Boost Laceless (2017)
The latest development in the Ultra Boost's story is the Ultra Boost Laceless. The slightly mid-cut silhouette features Primeknit construction, and totally lacks the famed caging section. Instead, the lateral, medial, and in-step portions of the shoe have ribbed sections that provide a snugger fit.