These days, Formula 1 teams aren’t just motorsports outfits, they’re fully-fledged luxury brands… And now, one of the sport’s most iconic teams, McLaren, has expanded into the sneaker world with a high-octane collaboration.
The legendary British F1 team has teamed up with Los Angeles-based performance footwear brand Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) on a sneaker called the HySpeed, a stylish all-purpose trainer.
Not only do the colourways and swoopy angles of the shoe bring to mind McLaren’s exotic road cars, but there’s F1 and supercar-inspired tech in the sneakers, too. They boast a carbon fibre shank, nitrogen-infused soles and a 3-piece cushion heel padding inspired by the seats of McLaren’s range-topping Senna hypercar.
Also like a McLaren car, they’re bloody expensive. At AU$747, they’re APL’s most expensive sneakers to date… No wonder they’re calling them “the height of luxury performance”.
For comparison, a pair of Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% – the trainers that controversially helped Eliud Kipchoge crack the 2hr marathon barrier in 2019 – will ‘only’ set you back AU$370 (i.e. less than half the price of the HySpeeds).
This collaboration is the latest in an increasingly long line of collaborations McLaren has penned with luxury brands. McLaren has long worked with ultra-high-end watchmaker Richard Mille on exclusive models, and last year worked with cult luxury fashion label Rhude on a unique (and similarly pricey) clothing capsule collection.
“Collaborative licensing relationships are absolutely what we’re trying to do, whether it’s sunglasses, sneakers or streetwear… [we want to] stay culturally relevant,” McLaren Chief Marketing Officer Gareth Dunsmore tells Bloomberg.
McLaren isn’t the only F1 team that’s using fashion as a way to appeal to new fans. Ferrari also launched its own high-end clothing brand last year, for example. Hell, AlphaTauri (Red Bull’s junior team, previously called Toro Rosso) is a clothing brand.
This all speaks to a growing reality that in modern Formula 1 – a sport that’s become defined by the blockbuster success of Netflix’s Drive To Survive and one that’s increasingly popular among young people – competition isn’t just on the track…