Wayne Edy

inov-8 celebrates 20th anniversary

inov-8 was founded in June 2003 by Zimbabwe-born Wayne Edy, a former consultant in the outdoor industry.

Then based in County Durham, England, Wayne had spotted what he felt was a gap in the off-road running shoe market for light, fast, natural footwear with incredible grip.

Initially targeting the fell, mountain and trail running in the UK, Wayne worked with designer Graham Jordison to create inov-8’s first shoe, the MUDROC 290. To this day, both Wayne and Graham remain key figures at the brand – Wayne as the founder and Graham as the head of footwear. The shoe earned rave reviews, especially for its grip on tough, steep-sided terrain, and landed many awards. Word spread amongst the fell, mountain and trail running communities of this new shoe and brand, helped by advertising that played on the emotive feelings associated with how it feels to run in the mountains. The big momentum shift came three months after launch when New Zealand athlete Melissa Moon wore a pair of the MUDROC 290 shoes to win the World Mountain Running Trophy. Demand rose quickly, and not just in the UK. Word spread into the European and American off-road running scenes and Wayne started to grow the business in earnest.

Significant changes:
The brand moved from an off-road running one which also designed light, fast hiking boots into one that also incorporated functional training (what would later become CrossFit) in 2009. Not that it ever intended too! A mountain racing flat shoe designed by Wayne and Graham called the F-LITE 230 was adopted by a new, rapidly-growing community of people in the US who wanted to push their bodies to beyond-the-gym extremes in intense functional training workouts. The shoe met their needs perfectly and word spread quickly among the community. Wayne got stock into the US and sales rocketed. Ever since, the brand has had a three-pronged product offering, covering the categories of running, hiking and training/gym.

Major innovation:
Arguably the brand’s biggest innovation came in 2018 when it became the first in the world to use miracle-material Graphene in its products. Graphene is the strongest material on the planet yet is insanely lightweight, thin and flexible. inov-8 teamed up with world-leading Graphene experts at The University of Manchester to infuse it into the rubber outsoles of their shoes. By doing so it imparts its strength into the rubber, making the outsoles hardwearing and longer-lasting without impeding sticky performance. inov-8 beat several other brands to the punch in using the technology, and are the only ones able to use it in outsoles and midsoles of sports shoes. In their shoe names, inov-8 call out the Graphene with a G. This sits alongside the weight of shoe in grammes, for example: TRAILFLY G 270.

inov-8 today:
The brandoperates in 50+ countries.It sells through its own website and via retailers. inov-8’s direct markets are the UK, US, France, Germany, Austria, and the Scandinavian countries. The rest that make up the 50+ are looked after by distributors in those territories. Wayne remains at the helm and is involved in the day-to-day business. Indeed, he has spent much time in Asia over recent months, personally overseeing the production of an exciting new range of running footwear for SS24. This will mark inov-8’s coming-of-age 21st year, with further big reveals expected. While inov-8 remain tight-lipped on the new range and the reveals, they say it’s set to be a real game-changer for both the brand and the industry. A new CEO, Mike Snell, joined inov-8 in October last year and has reshaped the senior management team, bringing in a wealth of experienced heads across all categories. They and the wider team work across two sites in the UK (one in County Durham and one in the Lake District), with warehouse operations in the UK, US and mainland Europe. They also have a new showroom in the latter, in Annecy, France. Today, inov-8’s product offering covers footwear, apparel and equipment in run, hike and training/gym. The brand continue to ensure all products are light in weight and work with the body, not against it, while also providing the protection and comfort required to push boundaries and ambitions. The grip – and thanks to Graphene, the durability – of their footwear sets the bar others aim to follow.

20th anniversary celebrations:
Later in the year, the brand plan to celebrate the end of their second successful decade with an internal party and awards ceremony honouring those who’ve played a huge part in the business over the last 20 years. This will also likely involve a trail run from the back doors of their Lake District office in England! Looking ahead, with the new SS24 running footwear range and secret reveals set for next year, the brand are planning a bigger celebration then for their coming-of-age 21st birthday.

Five fun things about inov-8:
*The brand’s birthday is the same day as that of its first-ever employee, Graham Jordison, head of footwear. June 11th.

*The MUDROC 290 shoes Melissa Moon wore to win the World Mountain Running Trophy in 2003 weren’t actually her shoes! She borrowed them from an English junior athlete after the course was covered in overnight snow and she needed shoes with greater grip.

*inov-8’s lightest ever shoe was the ROAD-X-TREME weighing in at 118g per shoe. It was a minimal road running shoe.

*Celebrities spotted wearing inov-8 shoes include Bear Grylls, who has been a big fan since the early days, Henry Cavill (Superman himself) and F1 motorsport star Yuki Tsunoda.

*All inov-8’s  footwear is 100% vegan, for the glues used to the knits and leathers.

Header image: inov-8 founder Wayne Edy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *