The superhero sneaker brand empowering kids through play

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Apr 13, 2018, 2:02 PM EDT

Black Panther, Wonder Woman and Captain America have a new caped superhero joining their ranks on the playground: your child. Thanks to Super Heroic sneakers, kids can pretend to be their favorite on-screen heroes while wearing footwear specifically made with imagination and play in mind.

The Super Heroic mission isn’t to stop a supervillain from flattening a city; instead, they want to “empower our children with the power of play through [their] products.” This is done through the innovative design of the sneaker, as well as encouraging and enhancing physical play through superhero imagery.

Super Heroic launched in November 2017 and is the brainchild of former Nike global design director Jason Mayden, who's designed sneakers for the iconic Jordan Brand. Both Mayden and co-founder Harshal Sisodia—Nike’s global digital brand director—wanted to create a product that focused on the next generation. The origin story of Super Heroic doesn’t start with a spider bite in a lab or far away in a mythical land, but somewhere far closer to home. Mayden's son was having medical challenges, and out of that Mayden was inspired to develop “something powerful and bigger than [himself].”

Creativity, confidence and imagination are all vital to the Super Heroic foundations, but the design of the shoe is inherent to this ethos. Instead of modeling the shoe on a pre-existing adult version, it was important to look at the proportions of a child’s foot to understand how it moves while undertaking physical activity—and to aid rather than restrict when running around, climbing and saving the world. Features include an adjustable strap instead of laces, a heel bumper and an outsole designed for multiple surfaces.

There are now three designs to choose from, including the recently launched space themed limited edition TMBLR v1 GALACTIX. Each pair comes with its own drawstring bag and cape in a cylinder, which places the element of excitement and intrigue from the very moment you open it up. “Everything we do has to be fun," Mayden said. "From our logo to our fonts, to our colors, to the packaging, the way it opens. Everything is meant to get you to smile or remember that life is what you make it.”  

Super Heroic isn’t interested in creating one shoe design for girls and one for boys. Mayden told Footwear News earlier this year that the reason behind this decision is a simple one: “Children become what they see. By forcing labels and brands on them early, we perpetuate outdated gender and societal roles.” It's also why there is only a small Super Heroic logo on the shoe, as they don’t want to turn kids into billboards.

When Black Panther was released in February, Mayden spoke about how this movie is “a mirror into the soul of Super Heroic.” The importance of Black Panther is that “people can only become what they see. It’s not about Black history. It is about Black future.” In other words: inspiring children rather than restricting them at an early age, demonstrating to them that their imagination can lead to big things beyond the playground.

Super Heroic used their Instagram to celebrate Black Panther's refusal to fall into the damsel-in-distress trope that is often featured in this genre of storytelling. “Narratives have constantly put women in positions of passivity, where they’re often just waiting on someone to save them,” said Mayden. “But that time is over.”

Everyone has the ability to be the superhero of their own story, and Super Heroic wants to remind children in particular of their unique power.

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