When you think of running shoes the usual candidates spring to mind, Nike, Adidas and Asics, but when Meb Keflezighi was first over the line of the 2014 Boston marathon another brand cemented themselves as worthy candidates in the marketplace.
Keflezighi, who became the first American to win the race since 1983, was sporting a pair of GO Meb Speed Skechers, which legitimized the footwear company as a serious player in the sportswear sphere.
Founded in 1992 by Robert Greenberg, the man behind the launch of LA Gear in the late 1970s, Skechers is now one of the biggest footwear brands in the world, amassing billions of dollars in revenue each year.
Perhaps still recognised more as an everyday shoe, Skechers knew that in order to be taken seriously in the sporting world it would have to develop something which could compete with the rest of the market.
“In order to be legitimised in the sneaker business you need to have a premium level or a performance level, which is why we now have that, ” says Skechers Managing Partner Marvin Bernstein.
“We recognise that we’re a lifestyle brand but a lot of it stretches into performance so we approached that end of the business, and made some headway in the running business.
“Including marathons and events around the world.”
In order to get a running shoe which can compete with the market leaders, Bernstein says their team take inspiration from what’s already out there and add to it by asking athletes what could be added.
“We have runners and they tell us what they need, different features that would be good on the shoes and what we’re lacking, if anything.
“We look at our competitors and see what they’ve got.
“I don’t know anyone who has an original thought, honestly.
“Nike and Adidas has that edge and now we do too.”
Skechers were in fact the first to add Memory Foam innersoles to their line of trainers, which other sports brands have now adopted.
Speaking exclusively to Sport360 at their customer showcase event at the Meydan Hotel, Bernstein admits the company’s success has not come as a surprise, having worked with the brand since the beginning.
He credits the accomplishments to a driven CEO who along with being an astute businessman has retained his love of sneakers for all these years.
“The only way you get this big is by having that vision, you don’t go into business thinking it’ll be nice to have a $50million company, get that, and then look for a $100million company, you have to have to always have that drive at the top.”
In a bid to conquer every possible market, Skechers releases thousands of new shoes every year, with 4,000 of those being released in the first quarter of this year.
Along with the sports shoes, there’s are shoes for back-to-school, special nurses footwear with non-slip souls, construction shoes with steel-tips, glow-in-the-dark kids trainers and even smart Dress Knit range to wear with a suit in the office.
The UAE is an ever-growing market for Skechers, sitting only behind the United States, Europe and China in terms of popularity.
And while the company has long been established in many parts of the world, the UAE is only just getting started.
Bernstein adds, “Dubai and the UAE is already a huge market for us, and more importantly it’s not over.
“There’s a footwear brand to build and also an apparel line, so it’s just getting started here.”
Go for a drive anywhere in the UAE and within seconds you’ll see a Pajaro on the road. A staple of the Dubai motoring scene, the Pajero has more than held its own in the competitive SUV market, which now has another player in the game – the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.
The new model contains all-new features including a a 1.5-litre direct-injection turbo-engine which we put through its paces at the Dubai Autodrome in a series of tests ranging from acceleration, emergency serves and sharp turns. Along with a pedal-to-the-floor drag race down the back straight, the Eclipse managed an impressive 140kph (86mph) before approaching the first bend. It boasts a top speed of 204kmh (127mph) with acceleration of 99kmh (62mph) in 9.8 seconds.
Keeping a speed of 70kph around the track, the Eclipse Cross grips the surface well, and better than you’d ever need to experience out on the road. What’s more, the handling through the emergency serve obstacles isn’t a problem for the family-friendly SUV, which feels very safe given there are no less than seven airbags dotted throughout the vehicle, protecting occupants from all sides.
It also uses laser radar technology as adaptive cruise control, while collision mitigation technology keeps a constant eye on the road ahead, warning the driver should an impact risk be detected either from traffic or pedestrians. Not to mention the front and rear parking sensors.
As we continue around the Autodrome the next task is sneaking through cones in the middle of the track. While it’s something you’d hope not to face on the road it’s reassuring to know the Eclipse Cross reacts quickly and efficiently to the steering wheel and gets through the cones without incident at speeds of around 50kph.
The Eclipse Cross certainly has a place in the market, it’s an SUV but not too big to handle, yet big enough to feel comfortable and protected on the road. The back doors seem smaller than your traditional SUV, but it’s the compact feel, which will appeal to those not wanting a hulking over-sized car. This is especially handy for when parking as you can get in and out without fearing you’re hitting the car in the space next to you.
Design-wise, it’s sharp edge and bold beltline with a forward raked rear window gives it a meaner sporty look, especially sat on five-spoke alloy wheels. At the rear, the Cross has central LED brake lights forming a single bar of light running across the tail.
Inside, the new SUV’s dashboard is shaped using horizontal lines, with silver metal frames and a black and silver monotone colour scheme helping create a sense of refinement that is both dynamic and sporty. Three variants are available in the range.
It’s available now from Al Habtoor Motors and while we don’t expect to see many of the new Eclipse Cross racing around the Dubai Autodrome it shouldn’t be long before you’re seeing a lot of them on the road.
Over 50 teams from 30 schools and academies are gearing up for the ultimate under 12s football tournament this weekend.
The event, which takes place at Global Village as part of Kid’s Fest, kicks off on Saturday and will see over 500 players taking part. Specially-installed Astro Turf pitches have been erected to host the competition, which is a first for Global Village.
The competition works in a league format with the top two teams from each league qualifying for the knockout stages. Each game is 15 minutes long, with boys and girls will compete in separate leagues under the same rules.
Matches will begin on the 10th February and run throughout the month, concluding with the final on Saturday 24th.
Commenting on the Global Village Football Tournament, Bader Anwahi, CEO of Global Village, said: “Kids in the UAE love visiting Global Village as there is always something new and engaging that they find when they come here. This challenge is part of our unique activities that we are hosting during our popular Kids Fest where we put our young guests at the heart of our entertainment offerings and provide them with experiences that turns into memories over 21 days in February. It adds to our appeal with one of our primary audiences and will definitely garner their interest and attendance.”
Abu Dhabi Indian School
Al Mizhar American Academy
Al Nujoom Academy
American School of Creative Science
Deira Private School
Delhi Private School, Dubai
Dubai English Speaking College
Dubai Scholars Private School
French School Academy
GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai
Gems New Millennium School
Gems Our Own Indian School, Dubai
Greenfield Community School
Gulf Heroes Academy
JSS International School, Dubai
JSS Private School
Merryland International School
New Indian Model School, Al Ain
Progressive English School
Sharjah Indian School
Star Football Academy
The Millennium School, Dubai
The Sheffield Private School
Wesgreen International School
Zabeelers Football Academy