Our design alliance.
UK Gear have a unique association with The Army Physical Training Corps, the elite fitness professionals of The British Army. They are closely involved in the development of our products before wear testing them in some of the most demanding conditions on Earth. Only when approved by The British Army do we consider our products... built to survive.
PT-03 - Runner's World UK : How the PT-03 was conceived and created>>06 June 2004
How the PT-03 was conceived and created
In 2003 Midlands businessman, David Hinde, managing director of sportswear company UK Gear, launched a project to design and manufacture a new high performance running shoe that could compete with the best running shoes in the world. His ambitious plan was to create a British running shoe that could stand proud against the best products produced by market leaders Nike, Adidas and other global brand names.
Starting with a blank sheet of paper David Hinde drew up his vision for the shoe. He was clear he wanted a high performance shoe. His record of creating competitive sportswear would allow for nothing less than that. He also knew that his demand for quality and performance would not allow the shoe to be compromised by attempting to be fashionable. He was clear his customers' main focus would be how the shoe would help them reach their fitness goals.
David's vision was to create a running shoe that could be the best and he was clear that to achieve this he had to involve the British Army, a unique, professional and highly trained organisation. Furthermore, the Army's recruiting strap-line, "Be The Best" encapsulated his own ambition for the shoe.
David Hinde assembled his top design team and set about bringing the Army on board. If he could achieve this, chances are the shoe would be the best.
Joining forces with the Army
UK Gear approached the Army to discuss in depth what would become the first project of its type ever undertaken by the British Army - to work with a commercial organisation to develop a jointly-branded product that could stand up to the Army's high values and standards.
When David Hinde approached the Army he found them immediately interested in his proposal. After initial meetings, it was decided that UK Gear should work in conjunction with the Army Physical Training Corps (APTC), the specialist corps that trains soldiers to be Army Physical Training Instructors. Not only are they among the fittest men in the Army, they're some of the fittest people on the planet, multi-marathon runners, triathletes, every one of them superfit.
David Hinde and his design team met with the APTC to develop the brief for the shoe.
David Hinde tells the story: "My starting point was to think if I'm designing a shoe for the most demanding and rigorous customers, people who need a shoe to perform in the most demanding circumstances, a shoe that has absolute integrity and is not compromised, what criteria must it satisfy; what does it need to do?
"That's when we went and met the APTC and they told us in great detail what such a shoe needed to be able to do, what it needed to withstand.
"The APTC has vast experience in the fitness field, so their knowledge and problem solving skills were invaluable", he added.
Together the team worked out the essential elements and functionality of the running shoe which the APTC could use.
UK Gear went away and sourced the appropriate materials and started to design the shoe itself. Returning to the Corps with materials samples and initial designs. The team assessed the various materials and refined the physical design. UK Gear then created a prototype model, finalised the projected technical functionality and brought it back to the Corps for assessment. Following further manufacturing development, the PT-03 was ready for testing late 2003.
The shoes were given to 10 APTC instructors. The team were tasked to use the shoe in all their outdoor training activity, test it and report back their results and comments.
The purpose of the test was:
To ensure that all the technical features of the PT-03 performed as expected
To test durability and quality of the production and materials in real life situations
To improve and fine tune where possible biomechanical performance
To look for increased comfort where possible
To achieve feed back on overall aesthetics, fit and usability
The soldiers were debriefed to measure and assess how the shoe stood up to the criteria they created at the beginning of the project.
Modified versions of the shoe were created on the basis of the feedback from the PT instructors and reissued to a further 30 APTC instructors to test once more.
The seal of approval Finally the shoe got the seal of approval from the entire team. As a product designed in association with the British Army, the shoe bears the Army's crossed swords insignia.
David Hinde describes what it was like finding out his shoe had passed the test: "It was what we'd been aiming for and I had a great sense of achievement. I've always respected the Armed Forces and I'm very proud to have been the first to have worked with the Army in this way and proud of the product we've produced."
After the test the assessments of the APTC instructors were reviewed. The results were impressive: "I was knocked out by the praise the shoe received from the Army PT instructors," David Hinde said.
"Their praise was universal, not one of them could fault the final product. One of the instructors even went as far as to say it was the best running shoe he'd ever used and this was someone who ran 800 km during the test period and is one of the APTC's senior officers and most experienced runners, so I couldn't ask for higher praise for the shoe than that."
David Hinde added: "With a review like that, I'm satisfied we have achieved what we set out to do, to create a high performance running shoe for people serious about running."
The shoes are currently being distributed to all APTC instructors, a total of more than 450, around the world. In addition, orders for the PT-03 have already been placed by some of the UK's top specialist running stores and major sports shoe retailers including Sweatshop and The Athletes Foot.
For further information please contact UK Gear on +44 (0)870 403 1400
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