Whether you’re slipping off your shoes at a yoga studio or scrolling through your Instagram feed, has it lately felt like you keep seeing the same three-letter label: APL? And have you found yourself at a loss for what company, exactly, they are?
If you’re unfamiliar with the abbreviation—or Athletic Propulsion Labs, the forward-thinking brand it stands for—you’re hardly alone. Although these woven kicks have treaded lightly, away from the limelight, they’ve quietly reached cult status within certain wellness circles. For some cool-girls—from Kourtney Kardashian and Helen Owen to Tone It Up founders Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott—they’re as covetable as a good pair of shiny leggings.
So what makes APL stand out in a saturated sneaker market? For one thing, if you’ve ever laced up a pair before a sunset run or dance cardio class, you know that they offer a ton of support—without being bulky. Clunky design is a serious downside of most other super-cushioned sneakers, but APL has managed to create a shoe that feels as plush as a Lazy-Z-Boy but looks as sleek as an Eames chair.
Its signature? Soles made of a special, streamlined material called Propelium, which doesn’t break down as quickly as the foam that fills most shock-absorbent shoes. “From the beginning, we knew we had something unique and special,” says Adam Goldston, who founded APL in 2009 with his brother Ryan.
By far the style most influencers are lacing up is the TechLoom Pro. It’s a sleek running shoe that costs $115–$165 and comes in a range of colors, from classic black, white, and heather grey to trending tones like rose gold and beige. And as APL finds itself in more high-end retailers—Saks Fifth Avenue and Net-a-Porter both carry the brand—the Goldstons say they’ve started introducing new materials, silhouettes, and innovative use of textiles to their collections in order to meet the demand for more luxe items from their line.
Most recently? A $250 cashmere iteration of the TechLoom. “We’ve seen an enormous response to this ultra-luxurious upper,” Adam says. “It’s our first lifestyle shoe and our newest innovation that further blends the line between performance and fashion. You can expect to see more of that in the year ahead.”
“We find that women are looking for a sneaker that they can wear to the gym, as well as inside the gym. If you look at the market, you realize that’s the white space.”
Not choosing style over substance (or vice versa) has definitely added to APL’s success, says Jennifer Bandier. Her luxe fitness boutique, Bandier, regularly sells out of new styles in 24 hours, she says. “We find that women are looking for a sneaker that they can wear to the gym, as well as inside the gym. If you look at the market, you realize that’s the white space.”
Or at least it was until APL arrived on the scene. “The concept of becoming an ‘it-girl’ item was never what we were focused on,” Adam says, “but it’s been amazing to see everybody embrace our sneakers.” Clutch is more like it.
BTW, did you know that sneakers are basically the new sandal? Here’s how to style them with your fave summer outfits, and the one accessory you can add to boost your mood.
This story was originally published on June 28, 2017; it was updated on August 20, 2018.
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