In the US, the athletic shoe game is mostly run by the big guns. As an umbrella, Oregon’s Swoosh owned 62% of the market in 2015, while the Three Stripes out of Germany notched just 5%, tying with Skechers of all brands (shout out the Kim K pro model Shape-ups). So when a hungry, family-owned newcomer came on the scene looking to bring a fresh perspective to the industry, it was a welcome change to say the least. Boston-based YORK Athletics Mfg. makes high quality performance shoes with minimal branding. Promoting wellness and individuality over the sometimes (ok oftentimes) hard to relate to epic greatness of the big brands, YORK is fostering a healthy approachability in its story. And while marketing, story and brand is all important, it’s how they feel on your feet that really counts. So, on a recent trip to Thailand, we put a pair of the brand’s Henry model to the test.
From hitting the gym and running in the city to hiking and irresponsibly scaling a few seaside cliffs, the shoes handled everything active. Then after a pair of everyday shoes was lost to a Bangkok bus, they went on to serve as 24/7 kicks—events, meetings and all.
As an athletic shoe, the Henry holds its own. Coming in at just 8.9 ounces (comparable to the 7.9 oz Flyknit Lunar 3), the shoes deliver the minimal lightness many have grown accustomed to. And with an airy, breathable mesh upper the Henry moves heat out with ease. A 9mm offset (that’s the difference in sole height between the midsole and forefoot) contributes to the barefoot feel, though added cushioning helps with mixed workouts and all-day wear. As a dedicated running shoe, the Henry may not offer the structure serious joggers look for when logging major miles. For speedy short and mid-length jogs though, it’s more than adequate.
When your workout is over and it’s time to get to work (or aimlessly wander while taking photos and eating food), the Henry dresses up surprisingly well. A quick wipe with fresh water and you’ve got a low-key, non-branded athleisure vibe. The lack of branding contributes to the shoe’s appeal for traveling in places where flashiness isn’t your friend.
Admittedly, the Henry isn’t a hiking or trail running shoe. It’s certainly not meant for light rock climbing. And yet, because the shoe is designed for doing intense gym workouts, it handled all those tasks with ease. The welded toe cap and seams provides for long-lasting durability even in the face of jagged rocks and washboard trails. After getting the Henry wet, salty, dirty and what we thought was certifiably thrashed, a light rinse left them fit for a night out. Just try that with a Jumpman.