While the global sneaker market is predicted to reach $120 billion by 2026, many of the top-selling brands will continue to use the same thin insoles that provide little to no cushioning. This isn’t much of a concern if you’re wearing the shoes for casual use, but if you’re using them for sports, they do little to provide support and comfort.
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard knows firsthand the importance of foot health, having suffered foot injuries dating back to his days in college playing at Weber State University. So when he received a business proposal from his marketing agent at Goodwin Sports, Nate Jones, for a high-performance footwear insole geared toward athletes, it quickly became a no-brainer. A little over two years after that initial conversation in 2019, the company, Move, officially launched last December with Lillard and Jones among the cofounders.
“I immediately started thinking about how useful it would’ve been for me and how useful it can still be simply because I hadn’t been able to find any orthotic or insoles to put in my shoe that I felt comfortable playing in,” Lillard tells Fast Company. “Then we went on to start talking about how things have changed in amateur sports, where kids are now playing year-round, [and] we saw there was definitely a need for this.”
Many NBA players use insoles and orthotics while playing for added stability and comfort, and to reduce stress on the foot. Lillard recalls the occasional foot soreness he experienced at certain parts of the grueling NBA season, and the plantar fasciitis injury that plagued him during his fourth season after playing with just the typical sock liner that comes standard in sneakers.
After not being able to find an insole that he was comfortable with, Jones too suffered his own foot injuries from playing recreational pick-up hoops. Dr. Scholl’s currently dominates the market for insoles, which is projected to reach $4 billion this year and $6.9 billion by 2032, according to Future Market Insights. But Jones and his partners noticed a void: None of the well-known insole companies were really targeting young athletes or high-performance athletes.
Move has since partnered with Footcare Express along with a Nike footwear designer with 25 years of experience and one of the leading footwear research and testing laboratories. Move has secured additional investments from Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul and former NBA guard Jamal Crawford, among others. Through marketing mostly on social media, Move generated over $100,000 in sales in its first month and is on target to reach $1 million in sales for 2022, according to the founders. The company currently offers two products on its website: the Game Day and the Game Day Pro model, retailing at $39.99 and $59.99.
Lillard first put his Move insoles to the test while helping Team USA win gold during the London Olympics last summer. Throughout his previous years in the NBA, he hadn’t been able to find a consistent insole to use and now he finally had a product that was comfortable, responsive, and allowed him to play more freely without thinking about what was going on inside his shoe.
With a successful launch into the basketball space, Move is also targeting youth grassroots basketball and youth volleyball. From there, the founders want to continue to branch out to other sports with the central focus on providing youth athletes a product to support them while their bodies are still growing and developing.
“I think you’ll see more kids using them in the future,” Lillard said. “You’ll start to see more professional athletes using them too, because there’s nothing out there that specifically caters to athletes. I think Move will be something you start to see everywhere.”