We don’t mean to take full responsibility for changing the trajectory of Atreyu Running founder Michael Krajicek’s life (especially if everything falls apart, no jinxes), but we’re gonna say we’re partially responsible for writing the foreword to this neverending story.
Right before Christmas 2019, we dropped a photo of the Atreyu Base Model that Michael was hustling at The Running Event in Austin, Tex. At TRE, he was literally just walking around with a couple prototypes in a backpack and giving an elevator pitch on this simple shoe with a subscription model. We thought he was weird (because he is), but really cool. We thought the shoe was weird (because it is), but really cool.
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What we didn’t know is that at that time, Michael wasn’t even sure if he was 100% in– starting a new shoe company from scratch isn’t exactly the surefire path to abundant wealth. But after we posted the shoe and it started getting buzz, Michael flipped the switch– he was all in. Since then, he’s released various colorways of the Base Model, an ultralight and ultra-simple shoe, with a simplistic purity that really can’t be found these days. For the most part, the sales and subscriptions of that shoe have been a resounding success.
But could he go even further in upending the conventional running shoe market? He thought so. As such, Atreyu recently announced its plans for a $100 carbon-plated, high-stack running shoe, available direct to consumers, no subscription necessary. It’s a shockingly low price tag for a shoe with components that 2020 runners desire (and often can’t afford). Good luck finding a plated runner (whether straight carbon or carbon-infused) under $200 these days. Atreyu samurai-ed the shit out of that standard and halved it straight down the middle.
Now, obviously, the question is– does it perform? I hate to break it to you, but we’re not going to give a full consensus on it just yet, because the models we received are still prototypes. The midsole–which is really what the shoe is all about–is still being tweaked. According to this post from Atreyu, the current midsole in the shoes we have is an “off-brand” Pebax, or TPE. And, according to Atreyu, while that same off-brand TPE will also be used in the final version (think Kleenex vs. “bathroom tissue”), it will be tuned up a bit to have a more responsive/slightly firmer composition. This is a good thing, because this first proto version is softer than a vanilla sundae in a Texas summer. Granted, we’ve only been able to do a couple runs (and I also prefer a firmer ride in my shoes), so it’ll probably firm up a bit as it compresses. Nevertheless, a soft shoe is a soft shoe. That said, if the durometer of the upcoming midsole indeed ratchets up, then this shoe really could do some damage at a $100 price point. However, if you really love a true ground feel, this may not fall into your wheelhouse.
The other parts of the shoe are what you’ve come to expect and love about Atreyu. Simple, lightweight upper (albeit not much structure or support and a tad warm) that gives a solid lockdown in a racer-like way, similar to the Skechers Razor 3 Hyper. It’s actually the exact same upper as the Base Model. However, unlike the Base Model, The Artist also has a full-length rubber outsole that provides some much-needed traction underfoot. And somehow, this carbon-plated, high-stack racer with a rubber outsole still barely registers on a scale, coming in at a touch above 6 ounces for a US M9.0.
It’s an exciting shoe for sure. It’s going to be worth the $100 price point, if only for the fact that you’ll have a piece of unique shoe history, whether it’s one of the first shoes from an innovative company that will upend the industry, or a weird blip in running lore to remember “that guy who did a ‘strike here’ thing on the midsole.” Plus, it looks good on Instagram, which is half the value of a shoe anyway.
You can pre-order the shoe now and listen to an interview with Atreyu founder Michael Krajicek on the most recent episode of The Drop Weekly Podcast by using the links below.Shop The Artist