For a while now I have been seeing people who believed they have purchased sports shoes but have purchased what are called ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘Sportstyle’ shoes.
Active wear has become a fashionable choice of casual attire. This extends to footwear. Sports shoe companies are responding through the range of ‘Lifestyle’ footwear. Lifestyle footwear can also include shoes marketed as ‘Originals’ or ‘Retro’.
The earlier Lifestyle shoes, like the once very popular Nike Roshe, can be around half the price, which can lead to an unwise choice based on price. I was first alerted to this when a new runner patient thought she had scored a bargain & developed knee pain on her first run.
How to tell the difference at a glance

One clue that a shoe is a lifestyle shoe is the lack of a true outsole. This is the hardwearing layer that provides durability. You will note in the above image that the midsole is all one colour. They outsole is just a skin on the midsole. This wears through quickly & then the exposed soft midsole wears rapidly.
By removing the hardwearing outsole there is a significant reduction in the weight. Lifestyle shoes therefore are lighter which is a big selling point. Lifestyle shoes have soft midsoles, which creates a cushiony feel. This cushiony feel is appealing but generates instability & can contribute to injury.
There is a big selling brand out there that is doing tremendous trade because the shoes are so soft & light. I consider them slippers.
The emergence of The ‘Sportstyle’ Shoe 

The biggest ranges available now are referred to as ‘Retro’ or ‘Originals’. I consider this new breed of shoes to fall under the category of ‘Sportstyle’. These are found in bigger retailers & also the fashion footwear stores.
They are cleverly named after their technical shoe counter parts and although somewhat similar in appearance they are vastly different in structure and support and not recommended for breaking a sweat.
Asics have a very good shoe called Kayano, with 3 colour options and 2 width options providing 5 models in the technical range.
Asics Tiger Kayano the sportstyle range has 3 different models & with different colour options provides a range of 20 models. People are often drawn towards the appearance and mistakenly think the Kayano name means they have bought themselves a great training shoe.
Nike Air Max is another great example of technical shoes that were great shoes in their day. The companies are claiming that they are now being built with improved specifications. Maybe ok for an occasional run, but definitely great as a ‘jeans’ shoe.
Remember, cushioning is not shock absorption
Most brands have ventured into the sportstyle range. The biggest technical advance in sports footwear has been midsole technology. If you manufacture shoes with low end engineered single density midsoles, you keep the cost down. These may claim to offer cushioning but this is not the same as the shock absorbing technology found in the more expensive and some might consider, less attractive, technical training shoes. Keeping it simple keeps it cheaper. These are all fun shoes, but can provide a poor choice if you are after a serious technical shoe for training.
If you are serious about training, buy the technical shoes.

If you want a shoe for casual wear, SOME of the lifestyle are ok……….. a hell of a lot better than that popular range of flimsy canvas upper shoes & boots.
But if a lifestyle shoe for the weekends is what your in the market for, it just might be better to go with the ‘originals’. However if you are serious about training, spend the money and buy the technical shoes.
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