A shoe design ought to begin with the foot in mind. Sounds obvious, right? ECCO’s founder didn’t think it was obvious to shoemakers in the 1960s. In the golf sphere, too, form seemed be trumping function in the late 2000s when ECCO decided to take golf shoes in a totally new direction, offering golfers spikeless, comfortable shoes that could be worn on the course, in the clubhouse and on the street.
Karl Toosbuy founded ECCO in 1963, and the company has been pushing innovation in footwear in general, and golf footwear in particular, ever since. Toosbuy, an accomplished shoemaker, was driven to own and operate his own business. He left a manager position at a shoe factory in Copenhagen to start his own outfit guided by a unique philosophy.
The idea that the shoes should be designed primarily with the foot in mind led to the creation of shoes that were supremely comfortable and functional. A commitment to quality, comfort and innovation lie at the heart of Toosbuy’s dream, and those principles are foundational to ECCO’s newest golf shoe: the BIOM Hybrid2.
The Danish company produced its first pair of golf shoes in 1996. Since then, ECCO has signed the likes of Thomas Bjorn, Fred Couples, and Graeme McDowell. Perhaps most notably, the company pioneered the spikeless golf shoe revolution (ECCO calls them “hybrids”) with the launch of the original Golf Street shoe Fred Couples wore at the 2010 Masters.
Above: Shoes in the ECCO BIOM series feature a completely anatomical last developed by scanning the feet of 2,500 athletes.
ECCO launched BIOM Golf in 2011 and produced the first golf shoe to utilize the company’s revolutionary Natural Motion technology. They followed up a year later with the BIOMHybrid and then the Tour Hybrid in 2013, which features a high-performance outer and classic-looking upper.
Continuing the evolution of the BIOM technology in the golf shoe, ECCO is introducing the BIOM Hybrid 2 this season. It’s lighter and thinner than the existing BIOM Hybrid, which is presently one of the most popular golf shoes on the market.
I had a chance to speak with David Helter, ECCO USA’s Specialty Sales Director about the ECCO BIOM Hybrid 2, some of its component technology and the ECCO brand in general.
Check out the Q&A below.
BA: What about ECCO technology in shoe construction makes it different from its competitors?
DH: ECCO is one of the only major shoe manufacturers that own the entire production process. Producing our leathers and golf footwear exclusively in ECCO owned and operated factories allows for complete oversight of design and quality control.
Above: One of ECCO’s tanneries, which are located in Europe, Southeast Asia and the Far East.
Since its founding in 1963, ECCO has dedicated itself to the study of the human foot and has developed several unique technologies, most notably being our Direct Inject Process (DIP). Rather than using cement, like many manufacturers, each ECCO upper is placed in a mold where the polyurethane (PU) midsole is shot around it in liquid form creating a chemical bond. Not only does this process create an unbreakable, water-tight seal, it also reduces the overall weight of the shoe. As an alternative to the common EVA foam of other brands, PU is also highly flexible and resists breakdown for out-of-the-box comfort that lasts season after season.
Additional innovations include the ECCO Dynamic Traction System (E-DTS) outsole on our hybrid shoes that provides more than 800 traction angles and our HYDROMAX weatherproofing treatment to our leathers.
BA: Tell me about the leathers that ECCO uses in its shoes. What makes them so special?
DH: ECCO is the fifth-largest tannery in the world. In addition to producing all of our own, we provide leathers to many of the world’s leading luxury brands. More than 200 pairs of hands touch each piece of leather before it leaves our facilities, so ECCO customers can rest assured they are wearing only the best. Our vertical integration allows us to develop many specialty leathers for our golf collection, including highly-durable Yak and Camel along with traditional cowhide. In addition to world-class quality, all ECCO Golf leathers are treated with HYDROMAX for superb protection from the elements.
BA: Fred Couples and ECCO launched the spikeless shoe craze in 2010. What made the company’s spikeless shoes so popular?
DH: Couples brought hybrid golf footwear to global attention when he climbed the leaderboard in ECCO Golf Street at the 2010 Masters. Prior to that, no Tour players were competing in hybrid shoes, primarily because the materials couldn’t perform at that level. The ECCO E-DTS outsole – made from the same durable material as luggage wheels – changed that by offering more than 800 points of traction. It resists off-course wear and prevents on-course slippage despite Tour-level swing speeds. Golfers can travel seamlessly from car to course to other activities without changing shoes and enjoy a stylish, street-inspired aesthetic.
Above: The mold for ECCO’s patented E-DTS hybrid outsole has approximately 100 molded traction bars offering 800 traction angles.
According to Golf Datatech statistics, in 2014, hybrid footwear now represents more than 45 percent of all golf footwear sales and ECCO leads the premium market in this category. ECCO remains at the forefront of the hybrid concept, now offering a diverse selection of hybrid product styles for golfers of all tastes.
BA: How has the BIOM Hybrid been received?
DH: BIOM Hybrid is a perfect example of how ECCO incorporates its extensive research into the human foot. It is built on the BIOM anatomical last which was created using data gathered after scanning more than 2,500 pairs of feet. It encourages the foot’s natural motion and brings it closer to the ground for increased feel while offering extreme flexibility and torsion. The result is BIOM Hybrid becoming the leading premium hybrid style in the golf market.
BA: So what’s next?
DH: In addition to BIOM Hybrid 2, ECCO will be launching several other new products this year including new Tour Hybrid and Street EVO One models that incorporate even more exotic leathers and lifestyle-driven aesthetics. There might be a few surprises as well. We are always looking for ways to incorporate fashion-forward upper designs with our E-DTS outsole to marry everyday style and superb on-course performance.