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UK army markets running shoe design

12 October 2004

The British army has just launched a running shoe that it hopes will beat brand leaders Nike and Adidas, reports the Telegraph.

More than 65m pairs of trainers are sold in Britain every year, and the British army, under strict orders from the Treasury to generate income from its own image and reputation (i.e. its intellectual property), is aiming to launch its in-house designs into the famously competitive ‘arms race’ of the global trainer market.

Branded around the image of ‘uncompromising endurance’, the running shoe, labelled the ‘PT-03’ after ‘physical training’, will be manufactured by UK Gear, a tiny firm based in the West Midlands. The model has been tested to destruction by the army’s 450 full-time physical training instructors, and each shoe will proudly bear the newly-trademarked insignia of the British army on its tongue. The product is not aimed at trendsters, but rather, serious runners and joggers.

"It became apparent that a number of people were using and exploiting the army image for commercial gain, such as selling army badges" said Col Clifford. "This [trainer] was exactly the sort of thing we were looking for to act as a pilot and use the army's expertise practically."

Col Clifford accepts the PT-03 is a risky venture. While the army has not invested any money in the shoes, it will gain a "normal royalty" from the sale of every pair. However, it would be deeply embarrassed if its fledgling attempt to market its brand ended in commercial failure.

Lieutenant Colonel Phil Watkins, the army's most senior physical training instructor, is reportedly convinced they will be a success. He first wore the shoes six months ago for a double mountain marathon. "I took them out of the box, put them on and whilst they are not designed for fell running, they performed well. Cross-country, they were superb. I didn't get a single blister." He has been training in them ever since.

The box that the trainers come in bears the crossed swords logo of the Army Physical Training Corp., with only the "made in Vietnam" tag marring the image that this is as British as you can get. The shoes will retail for £79.

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