US20160324269A1 - Footwear Including an Adaptable and Adjustable Lacing System - Google Patents

Footwear Including an Adaptable and Adjustable Lacing System Download PDF

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Publication number
US20160324269A1
US20160324269A1 US15/147,943 US201615147943A US2016324269A1 US 20160324269 A1 US20160324269 A1 US 20160324269A1 US 201615147943 A US201615147943 A US 201615147943A US 2016324269 A1 US2016324269 A1 US 2016324269A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
upper
medial
fastener
footwear
engaging elements
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Pending
Application number
US15/147,943
Inventor
David Dombrow
Kevin Fallon
Tom White
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Under Armour Inc
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Under Armour Inc
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Publication date
Priority to US201562158709P priority Critical
Application filed by Under Armour Inc filed Critical Under Armour Inc
Priority to US15/147,943 priority patent/US20160324269A1/en
Publication of US20160324269A1 publication Critical patent/US20160324269A1/en
Assigned to UNDER ARMOUR, INC. reassignment UNDER ARMOUR, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: FALLON, KEVIN, DOMBROW, DAVID, WHITE, TOM
Application status is Pending legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0245Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B23/028Resilient uppers, e.g. shock absorbing
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B1/00Footwear characterised by the material
    • A43B1/02Footwear made of animal or plant fibres or fabrics made therefrom
    • A43B1/04Braided, knotted, knitted, or crocheted footwear
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/02Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the material
    • A43B13/04Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the material plastics, rubber or vulcanised fibre
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B13/18Resilient soles
    • A43B13/181Resiliency achieved by the structure of the sole
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B13/00Soles; Sole and heel units
    • A43B13/14Soles; Sole and heel units characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B13/22Soles made slip-preventing or wear-resisting, e.g. by impregnation or spreading a wear-resisting layer
    • A43B13/223Profiled soles
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0205Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the material
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0205Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the material
    • A43B23/0235Different layers of different material
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0245Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0245Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B23/0255Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form assembled by gluing or thermo bonding
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/0245Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form
    • A43B23/0265Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form having different properties in different directions
    • A43B23/0275Uppers; Boot legs characterised by the constructive form having different properties in different directions with a part of the upper particularly rigid, e.g. resisting articulation or torsion
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/02Uppers; Boot legs
    • A43B23/04Uppers made of one piece; Uppers with inserted gussets
    • A43B23/042Uppers made of one piece
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/08Heel stiffeners; Toe stiffeners
    • A43B23/081Toe stiffeners
    • A43B23/086Toe stiffeners made of impregnated fabrics, plastics or the like
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B23/00Uppers; Boot legs; Stiffeners; Other single parts of footwear
    • A43B23/08Heel stiffeners; Toe stiffeners
    • A43B23/088Heel stiffeners
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B5/00Footwear for sporting purposes
    • A43B5/06Running boots
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B7/00Footwear with health or hygienic arrangements
    • A43B7/06Ventilated footwear
    • A43B7/08Footwear with air-holes, with or without closures
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B7/00Footwear with health or hygienic arrangements
    • A43B7/06Ventilated footwear
    • A43B7/08Footwear with air-holes, with or without closures
    • A43B7/084Footwear with air-holes, with or without closures characterised by the location of the holes
    • A43B7/085Footwear with air-holes, with or without closures characterised by the location of the holes in the upper
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43CFASTENINGS OR ATTACHMENTS OF FOOTWEAR; LACES IN GENERAL
    • A43C1/00Shoe lacing fastenings
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43CFASTENINGS OR ATTACHMENTS OF FOOTWEAR; LACES IN GENERAL
    • A43C1/00Shoe lacing fastenings
    • A43C1/04Shoe lacing fastenings with rings or loops
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43CFASTENINGS OR ATTACHMENTS OF FOOTWEAR; LACES IN GENERAL
    • A43C5/00Eyelets
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D04BRAIDING; LACE-MAKING; KNITTING; TRIMMINGS; NON-WOVEN FABRICS
    • D04BKNITTING
    • D04B1/00Weft knitting processes for the production of fabrics or articles not dependent on the use of particular machines; Fabrics or articles defined by such processes
    • D04B1/10Patterned fabrics or articles
    • D04B1/12Patterned fabrics or articles characterised by thread material
    • D04B1/123Patterned fabrics or articles characterised by thread material with laid-in unlooped yarn, e.g. fleece fabrics
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D04BRAIDING; LACE-MAKING; KNITTING; TRIMMINGS; NON-WOVEN FABRICS
    • D04BKNITTING
    • D04B1/00Weft knitting processes for the production of fabrics or articles not dependent on the use of particular machines; Fabrics or articles defined by such processes
    • D04B1/14Other fabrics or articles characterised primarily by the use of particular thread materials
    • D04B1/16Other fabrics or articles characterised primarily by the use of particular thread materials synthetic threads
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D04BRAIDING; LACE-MAKING; KNITTING; TRIMMINGS; NON-WOVEN FABRICS
    • D04BKNITTING
    • D04B1/00Weft knitting processes for the production of fabrics or articles not dependent on the use of particular machines; Fabrics or articles defined by such processes
    • D04B1/22Weft knitting processes for the production of fabrics or articles not dependent on the use of particular machines; Fabrics or articles defined by such processes specially adapted for knitting goods of particular configuration
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2401/00Physical properties
    • D10B2401/04Heat-responsive characteristics
    • D10B2401/041Heat-responsive characteristics thermoplastic; thermosetting
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2403/00Details of fabric structure established in the fabric forming process
    • D10B2403/02Cross-sectional features
    • DTEXTILES; PAPER
    • D10INDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10BINDEXING SCHEME ASSOCIATED WITH SUBLASSES OF SECTION D, RELATING TO TEXTILES
    • D10B2501/00Wearing apparel
    • D10B2501/04Outerwear; Protective garments
    • D10B2501/043Footwear

Abstract

An article of footwear includes an upper and an adjustable lacing system. The adjustable lacing system includes a plurality of fastener engaging elements located at the medial and lateral sides of the upper, where at least one of the medial side and the lateral side includes sets of fastener engaging elements. Each set of fastener engaging elements is distanced from another set in a direction transverse a lengthwise direction of the upper, and the fastener engaging elements are configured to engage with and retain a fastener structure that extends between the medial and lateral sides of the upper such that the fastener structure can be selectively engaged with different sets of fastener engaging elements to adjust a fit of the upper around a width of the foot disposed within the cavity.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to an article of footwear and, in particular, footwear including an upper with a knit construction and an adjustable lacing system.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Articles of footwear typically include an upper and a sole structure attached to the upper. A variety of different materials can be used to form the upper. Athletic footwear, for example, often includes an upper having textiles that are stitched or adhesively bonded to a foam layer. Similarly, hiking boots and work boots often include a durable outer shell formed of leather and an inner lining formed of a textile joined with foam materials. Footwear uppers formed from textiles are generally lightweight and flexible structures designed to provide comfort to the user and provide other desirable features. Other materials, such as leather, synthetic leather, rubber and/or other components can also be incorporated with a textile to form an upper having desirable aesthetic and functional features that incorporate durability, flexibility, air permeability and/or other types of desirable properties to the upper. Providing such features in an upper, however, can increase the complexities associated with manufacture of the upper. Furthermore, the incorporation of materials such as leather or rubber into the upper to increase the strength and durability of the upper can also incorporate other undesirable properties into the upper, such as a reduction in air permeability of the upper resulting in trapping of moisture (e.g., perspiration) within the upper during use.
  • A lacing system for an article of footwear is typically integrated (at least partially) with the upper to provide a snug and comfortable fit of the upper around the foot of the wearer. However, the lacing system can be limited based upon the size of the upper in relation to the wearer's foot. In addition, it can be difficult to suitably characterize a shoe size for all different foot sizes. While conventional shoe sizes take into consideration heel-to-toe length and foot girth or width, such length and width dimensions are typically standardized and cannot accommodate all possible variations of foot sizes.
  • Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a textile upper for footwear that is lightweight, breathable, and durable and further includes a lacing system that is adjustable to accommodate and provide a snug yet comfortable fit for a variety of different foot sizes.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In an example embodiment, an article of footwear comprises an upper including a heel section, a vamp, a toe cage, a lateral side and a medial side, where the upper defines a cavity to receive a foot that is defined between the heel section, the vamp, the toe cage and the medial and lateral sides. An adaptable and adjustable lacing system is also provided that comprises a plurality of fastener engaging elements located at the medial side and the lateral side, where at least one of the medial side and the lateral side includes sets of fastener engaging elements. Each set of fastener engaging elements is distanced from another set in a direction transverse a lengthwise direction of the upper. The fastener engaging elements are further configured to engage with and retain a fastener structure that extends between the medial and lateral sides of the upper such that the fastener structure can be selectively engaged with different sets of fastener engaging elements to adjust a fit of the upper around a width of the foot disposed within the cavity.
  • In another example embodiment, an article of footwear comprises an upper including a heel section, a vamp, a toe cage, a lateral side and a medial side, wherein the upper defines a cavity to receive a foot that is defined between the heel section, the vamp, the toe cage and the medial and lateral sides. An adjustable lacing system is also provided that comprises a first connection configuration located at one of the medial and lateral sides, where the first connection configuration engages a fastener structure so as to position at least one portion of the fastener structure exterior to the cavity of the upper. The adjustable lacing system further comprises a second connection configuration located at the other of the medial and lateral sides, where the second connection configuration engages the fastener structure so as to position at least another portion of the fastener structure within the cavity of the upper. The adjustable lacing system facilitates selective engagement of the fastener structure with different sets of fastener engaging elements of at least one of the first and second connection configurations so as to adjust a fit of the upper around a width of the foot disposed within the cavity.
  • In the embodiments, the article of footwear can include an instep cover that is integral with one of the medial and lateral sides and includes a free end, where the instep cover is suitably dimensioned to extend toward the other of the medial and lateral sides such that at least the free end of the instep cover extends within the cavity defined by the upper.
  • The article of footwear can further include a sole structure connected with the upper.
  • The above and still further features and advantages of embodiments of the present invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description thereof, particularly when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals in the various figures are utilized to designate like components.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is an exploded view of an article of footwear in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 2A is side view in elevation of the article of footwear shown in FIG. 1, showing the medial footwear side.
  • FIG. 2B is a side view in elevation of the article of footwear shown in FIG. 1, showing the lateral footwear side.
  • FIG. 2C is a front perspective view of the article of footwear of FIG. 1, showing the lateral footwear side (footwear configured for a right foot).
  • FIG. 2D is a front perspective view of the article of footwear shown in FIG. 1, showing the medial footwear side.
  • FIG. 2E is a rear perspective view of the article of footwear shown in FIG. 1, showing the medial footwear side.
  • FIG. 3 is a side view in elevation of the article of footwear shown in FIG. 1, showing the lateral footwear side and further including a partial cut-out section.
  • FIG. 4 is an isolated rear view of the upper of the article of footwear of FIG. 1, showing a seamless heel section and a rear view of the adjustable lacing system.
  • FIGS. 5A and 5B are front perspective views of an article of footwear in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, showing the orientation of a lace at a first medial position (FIG. 5A) and a second medial position (FIG. 5B).
  • Like reference numerals have been used to identify like elements throughout this disclosure.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • As described herein with reference to the example embodiment of FIG. 1, an article of footwear 100 in accordance with the invention includes an upper 105 coupled to a sole structure 110 and further including a heel counter 115 and an adjustable lacing system 112 configured to engage with a fastening element or fastener 120 (e.g., a shoe lace or cord, which is shown in phantom) as described herein. The upper 105 is a textile which can be formed as a single or unitary structure (also called a unitary member) as shown in the figures and having a minimal number of seams utilized to form the shape of the upper. That is, the upper 105 can be formed as a one-piece structure each portion of which is integral with adjacent portions in a seamless manner. However, it is noted that the adjustable lacing system of the present invention is not limited to footwear including uppers formed as a single or unitary structure but instead can be implemented in footwear including a plurality of individually formed portions that are combined or connected in any suitable manner to form an upper for the footwear. In addition, while the upper as described herein is formed utilizing a knitting process, the adjustable lacing system of the present invention can also be implemented for footwear including an upper formed in any other suitable manner (e.g., via molded textile components).
  • Knitting is a process for constructing fabric by interlooping one or more yarns. In general, knitting includes warp knitting and weft knitting. In warp knitting, the yarns generally run lengthwise in the fabric (e.g., tricot, milanese, and raschel knitting). In weft knitting, one continuous thread runs crosswise in the fabric making all of the loops in one course. Weft knitting includes both circular knitting and flat knitting. In circular knitting, the fabric is produced on the knitting machine in the form of a tube, with the threads running continuously around the fabric. In flat knitting, the fabric is produced on the knitting machine in flat form, the threads alternating back and forth across the fabric. By way of example, the template is knitted using a programmable CMS 530 H or CMS 730 S flat knitting machine from H. Stoll GmbH & Co. The upper 105 may possess a plaited knit structure, containing an interior layer or face and an exterior layer or face formed of the same or varying strands and or stitches. Both the interior and exterior layers are formed concurrently by knitting a plaited construction so that the layers are distinct, yet integrated one with the other.
  • The strands forming the textile (e.g., knit) structure may be of any one or more types suitable for the described purpose (to form a shoe upper). The term strand includes a single fiber, filament, or monofilament, as well as an ordered assemblage of textile fibers having a high ratio of length to diameter and normally used as a unit (e.g., slivers, roving, single yarns, plies yarns, cords, braids, ropes, etc.). In a preferred embodiment a strand is a yarn (a continuous strand of textile fibers, filaments, or material in a form suitable for knitting, weaving, or otherwise intertwining to form a textile fabric). A yarn may include a number of fibers twisted together (spun yarn); a number of filaments laid together without twist (a zero-twist yarn); a number of filaments laid together with a degree of twist; and a single filament with or without twist (a monofilament). The strands forming the textile upper 105 can be natural strands (e.g., cotton strands, wool strands, silk strands, etc.) and/or synthetic strands formed of one or more types of polymers, including fibers or filaments having one or more polymer components formed within the fibers or filaments. Examples of materials that may be utilized in the spun staple and/or continuous filament hard yarns include cotton, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, polyethylene, acrylics, wool, acetate, polyacrylonitrile, and combinations thereof. Natural fibers include cellulosic fibers (e.g., cotton, bamboo) or protein fibers (e.g., wool, silk, and soybean).
  • The strands forming the textile upper 105 may also be formed of and/or include at least one type of polymer component that either softens or melts (becomes molten) when heated to a predetermined temperature. Softening polymers will possess a softening point within a certain desired range. The softening point is the temperature at which a material softens beyond some arbitrary softness (as determined by, e.g., Vicat method). In an embodiment, the softening point of the polymer is from about 60° C. to 90° C. The strands forming the textile upper 105 may be one or more of softening strands (formed of softening polymers), melting strands (formed of melting polymers), and/or non-fusing strands (strands that neither soften nor fuse). Examples of suitable fusing polymer components that can be used to form fusing strands and fusing yarns include, without limitation, thermoplastic materials such as polyurethanes (i.e., thermoplastic polyurethane or TPU), polyesters (e.g., polyethylene terephthalate), polyolefins (e.g., polyethylene and polypropylene), and polyamides (e.g., aliphatic polyamides such as Nylon), and any suitable combinations or copolymers thereof.
  • With fusing strands, the melting of the polymer results in the fusion of a portion of the fusing strand to one or more adjacent strands within the textile upper 105 (e.g., due to the molten polymer component of the fusing strand surrounding an adjacent strand and/or intermingling with a molten polymer component of the adjacent strand). Fusing strands secure the loops of the knit in place. Specifically, when an appropriate amount of heat (wet or dry) is applied to the textile structure, the fusing strands flow to adjacent strands. Upon cooling, the fusing strands anchor adjacent loops to each other. This not only alters the elasticity of a given area of the upper, but also reinforces the area, adding rigidity thereto. With this configuration, it is possible to control the elasticity and/or rigidity of the upper by controlling the amount of fusing strands within the textile structure. Inserting a greater amount of fusing strand (e.g., placing every three course) provides greater rigidity and less elasticity to the upper than inserting a lower amount of fusing strand (e.g., placing every 10 courses). In example embodiments, the textile structure includes fusing strands in different portions of the upper to achieve different degrees of elasticity, including providing suitable features of elasticity within the upper to facilitate effective operation of the adjustable lacing system as described herein.
  • A non-fusing polymer refers to any polymer component that possesses a softening, glass transition, or melting point greater than that of any softening or fusing strands present in the textile structure and/or greater than the temperature ranges specified above. Accordingly, a non-fusing strand refers to a strand that does not include any fusing polymer component, while a non-fusing yarn refers to a yarn that does not include any fusing strand. By way of example, non-fusing strands includes strands with one or more non-fusing polymer components and/or strands comprising naturally occurring fibers or filaments (e.g., wool, cotton, silk, etc.). Non-fusing polymer components can include both thermosetting polymers and thermoplastic polymers with melting points (or temperature points at which at least some of the polymer components begin to soften and/or melt) greater than fusing polymer components. Examples of suitable non-fusing polymer components that can be used to form non-fusing strands and non-fusing yarns for forming the textile upper 105 include, without limitation, polyurethanes, polyesters (e.g., polyethylene terephthalate), polyolefins (e.g., polyethylene and polypropylene), polyamides, elastomers and any suitable combinations or copolymers thereof.
  • The strands, in addition to being fusing, non-fusing, or softening, may further be elastic or non-elastic strands. An elastic strand possesses elasticity and/or recovery, i.e., the ability to recover its original size and shape immediately after removal of a stress (i.e., after stretching) causing deformation (the degree to which fibers, yarn, or cord returns to its original size and shape after deformation indicates how well a fabric recovers). An elastic strand, by virtue of its composition, possesses the ability to stretch. Some specific examples of elastic polymer components suitable for forming an elastic strand are, without limitation, elastomeric polyester-polyurethane copolymers such as elastane, which is a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is a long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% of segmented polyurethane.
  • Non-elastic strands possess little to no elasticity. Strands formed of hard fibers and strands formed of high tensile strength filaments are examples of non-elastic strands. Hard yarns are yarns that are substantially non-elastic. That is, hard yarns include knitting yarns which possess little to no elastic stretch, such as natural and/or synthetic spun staple yarns, natural and/or synthetic continuous filament yarns, and combinations thereof. Examples of materials that may be utilized in the spun staple and/or continuous filament hard yarns include cotton, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, polyethylene, acrylics, wool, acetate, polyacrylonitrile, and combinations thereof. Natural fibers include cellulosic fibers (e.g., cotton, bamboo) or protein fibers (e.g., wool, silk, and soybean). They also can be of mono component poly(ethylene terephthalate) and poly(trimethylene terephthalate) fiber, polycaprolactam fiber, poly(hexamethylene adipamide) fibers acrylic fibers, modacrylic, acetate fibers, rayon fibers, nylon and combinations thereof.
  • Referring again to the drawings, and in particular FIGS. 2A-2D, the article of footwear 100 is an athletic shoe (e.g., a running shoe) defining a forefoot region 200A, a midfoot region 200B, and a hindfoot region 200C, as well as a medial side 205A and a lateral side 205B. The forefoot region 200A generally aligns with the ball and toes of the foot, the midfoot region 200B generally aligns with the arch and instep areas of the foot, and the hindfoot region 200C generally aligns with the heel and ankle areas of the foot. Additionally, the medial side 205A is oriented along the medial (big toe) side of the foot, while the lateral side 205B is oriented along the lateral (little toe) side of the foot. While the example embodiment depicted in the figures shows an article of footwear (shoe) configured for a right foot, it is noted that the same or similar features can also be provided for an article of footwear (shoe) configured for a left foot (where such features of the left footed shoe are reflection or “mirror image” symmetrical in relation to the right footed shoe).
  • The upper 105 includes a first portion and a second portion. The first portion covers the hindfoot, the sides and dorsum of the midfoot, and the planum (bottom facing side) of the entire foot. Accordingly, the first portion includes a heel section 210 that includes heel cup 400 (FIG. 4), a lateral quarter section 215 (oriented on the lateral shoe side 205B), a medial quarter section 220 (oriented on the medial shoe side 205A), and a planum section 300 (FIG. 3) that engages the planum of the foot. The second portion covers the dorsum and sides of the forefoot. The second portion includes a vamp section 225, a toe cage section 230, and an instep cover section 240. With this configuration, the heel section 210, lateral quarter 215, medial quarter 220, vamp 225, toe cage 230 and planum section 300 cooperate to form the cavity 332 (FIGS. 3 and 4) into which a foot is inserted by way of an access opening 235, which is defined by the heel section, the lateral and medial quarters, and the instep cover.
  • The vamp section 225 can be provided with a configuration that includes a region 287 having a structure that serves as a heat sink for the shoe by affecting moisture, airflow and/or heat transfer for the upper 105 at the region 287. These features are generally achieved by utilizing one or a combination of yarn types knitted at such region 287 that provide poor thermal resistance and effective heat transfer (e.g., providing yarns in region 287 that comprise an ultra high molecular weight polyethylene or UHMWPE polymer component) and/or modifying the knit structure at the surface to enhance heat transfer (e.g., providing undulations at the surface of region 287 as depicted in the drawings, where the undulations comprise knitted beams extending over indentations or channels to create an uneven, wavy and/or undulating exterior surface).
  • Referring to FIG. 4, the heel section 210 includes a heel cup 400. The heel cup 400 possesses a generally arcuate profile. Specifically, the heel cup 400 is generally dome shaped, curving from a point proximate opening 235 toward the planum section 300, as well as curving from the lateral quarter 215 to the medial quarter 220 (and vice versa). Similarly, the lateral quarter section 215 and the medial quarter section 220 seamlessly couple with the planum section 300. The heel section 210 can be a seamless, stitchless structure that results from knitting a unitary structure that forms the upper. Alternatively, the heel section 210 can include any one or more seams that result from securing two or more portions of the upper together in any suitable manner to form the heel section.
  • The lateral quarter 215 extends upward from the planum section 300 such that the lateral quarter spans the lateral side of the foot, at least in the hindfoot and midfoot areas. As described herein, the lateral quarter 215 includes portions of the lacing system configured to receive and retain the fastener 120 with the upper 105.
  • The medial quarter 220 extends upward from the planum section 300 such that the medial quarter spans the medial side of the foot, at least in the hindfoot and midfoot areas. In the illustrated embodiment, the medial quarter 220 extends from the heel section 210 to the vamp section 225. An instep cover 240 may be formed integrally with the medial quarter 220 such that the instep cover spans the dorsum of the midfoot (i.e., the instep). Referring to FIG. 3, instep cover 240 defines a forward edge 305, a rearward edge 310 oriented generally parallel to the forward edge. The instep cover 240 further defines distal edge 315 oriented generally orthogonal to the forward and rearward edges. The instep cover 240 generally spans the instep of the foot, extending from the medial shoe side 205A to the lateral shoe side 205B, and extending from the vamp 225 at its forward edge 305 to the access opening 235 at its rearward edge 310. As noted above, the access opening 235 is partially defined by the rearward edge 310. The width of the instep cover 240 (i.e., the dimension of the instep cover that is transverse its longitudinal or lengthwise dimension can be generally uniform. Alternatively, the width of the instep cover 240 can change in dimension, e.g., where one or both of the forward edge 305 and rearward edge 310 tapers in a direction extending from the distal edge 315 to the medial quarter 220 such that the width of the instep cover 240 varies (e.g., the width of the instep cover 240 is greatest at the distal edge 315).
  • The length of the instep cover 240 (i.e., the length in the transverse (width) dimension of the shoe 100), is selected such that a distal portion of the instep cover 240 overlaps the lateral quarter 215. For example, when the shoe 100 is placed on the foot of the wearer, distal edge 315 of the instep cover 240 is oriented within the cavity 332, being positioned below the lateral quarter 215 (e.g., proximate the planum section 300). The forward edge 305 of the instep cover 240 may be secured to the vamp 225 along seam 250 (FIG. 2A), e.g., via stitching, adhesive, etc. In an embodiment, only a portion of the forward edge 305 is secured to the vamp 225 via a vamp seam 250. The distal portion of the instep cover forward edge 305 (i.e., the area of the forward edge proximate the distal edge 315), as well as the instep cover distal edge 315, may be unsecured to permit repositioning relative to the lateral quarter 215. By way of example, about 50% to about 75% of the instep cover forward edge 305 may be secured to the vamp 225 along vamp seam 250. In other embodiments, the entire forward edge 305 is secured.
  • While the instep cover 240 has been described herein and depicted in the drawings as being an integral portion or extension of the medial quarter 220 that overlaps the lateral quarter 215, it is noted that alternative embodiments may also be provided in which the instep cover is instead integral with and is an extension of the lateral quarter such that it overlaps the medial quarter of the upper (i.e., a reverse of the configuration described herein). It is to be understood that, in such embodiments, the lacing system 112 as described herein can also have a correspondingly reversed configuration.
  • The sole structure 110 comprises a durable, wear-resistant component configured to provide cushioning as the shoe 100 impacts the ground. In certain embodiments, the sole structure 110 may include a midsole and an outsole. In additional embodiments, the sole structure 110 can further include an insole that is disposed between the midsole and the upper 105 when the shoe 100 is assembled. In other embodiments, the sole structure 110 may be a unitary and/or one-piece structure. As can be seen, e.g., in the exploded view of FIG. 1, the sole structure 110 includes an upper facing side 125 and an opposing, ground-facing side 130. The upper facing side 125 may include a generally planar surface and a curved rim or wall that defines the sole perimeter for contacting the bottom surface 135 of the upper 105. The ground-facing side 130 of the sole structure 110 can also define a generally planar surface and can further be textured and/or include ground-engaging or traction elements (e.g., as part of the outsole of the sole structure) to enhance traction of the shoe 100 on different types of terrains and depending upon a particular purpose in which the shoe is to be implemented. The ground-facing side 130 of the sole structure 110 can also include one or more recesses formed therein, such as indentations or grooves extending in a lengthwise direction of the sole structure 110 and/or transverse the lengthwise direction of the sole structure, where the recesses can provide a number of enhanced properties for the sole structure (e.g., flexure/pivotal bending along grooves to enhance flexibility of the sole structure during use).
  • The sole structure 110 may be formed of a single material or may be formed of a plurality of materials. In example embodiments in which the sole structure includes a midsole and an outsole, the midsole may be formed of one or more materials including, without limitation, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), an EVA blended with one or more of an EVA modifier, a polyolefin block copolymer, and a triblock copolymer, and a polyether block amide (e.g., a PEBAX® material). The outsole may be formed of one or more materials including, without limitation, elastomers (e.g., thermoplastic polyurethane), siloxanes, natural rubber, and synthetic rubber.
  • The article of footwear 100 can also include a heel counter 115 having a generally curved configuration that corresponds with the heel section 210 of the upper 115 so as to surround a portion of the heel section. In an embodiment, the heel counter 115 includes a central member mounted with the sole structure 110 at a region corresponding with the hindfoot region 200C of the shoe 100 and extending distally (upward) from the upper-facing side 125 of the sole structure 110. A pair of arms and extends from the distal portion of the central member. In particular, a first arm extends from the lateral portion of the central member and along the medial shoe side 205A, while a second arm extends from the distal portion of the central member and along a lateral shoe side 205B. Each arm may possess a curved, generally L shaped configuration so as to extend initially from the central member generally horizontally and along a lengthwise dimension and toward the forefoot region 200A of the shoe 100 and then curve vertically downward toward the upper-facing side 125 of the sole structure 110. The heel counter 115 provides external strengthening at this area of the shoe 100. In particular, the heel counter 110 is configured to control and stabilize the user's heal inside the shoe to minimize excessive supination or pronation of the foot. The heel counter 115 can further be flexible, semi-rigid or rigid, and is further configured to provide rear foot stability, preventing injury and prolonging the lifespan of the shoe. The heel counter 115 can be formed of any one or more suitable materials including, without limitation, one or more thermoplastic elastomers such as EVA or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). The upper 105 can be coupled to heel counter 115 in any suitable manner including, without limitation, via an adhesive, via welding (e.g., ultrasonic welding), etc.
  • The lacing system 112 for the footwear is integrated into the upper 105 and includes fastener engaging members or elements that are disposed on both the medial and lateral sides of the upper. In particular, the lacing system 112 includes fastener engaging elements disposed at the lateral quarter 215 for engaging the fastener 120. Referring to FIG. 2C, the lateral quarter 215 includes fastener engaging elements in the form of one or more looped sections or tabs operable to receive the fastener. Specifically, the lateral quarter 215 includes a plurality of looped sections 245A, 245B, 245C, 245D disposed at the lateral quarter distal edge (upper edge). Each of the looped sections 245A-245D includes a strip of material or linear segment extending from the distal edge of the lateral quarter 215. The strip of material is folded over and secured back upon itself (e.g., via stitching, adhesive, etc.) to form a loop defining an opening operable to permit passage of a fastener (e.g., shoe lace or cord) through the loop. As illustrated, the looped sections 245A-245D are linearly spaced, being generally aligned in an array extending in the longitudinal or lengthwise direction of the shoe 100. In this manner, each looped section 245A-245D is configured to receive the fastener 120 (the shoe lace), movably capturing the fastener therein. As described herein, the looped sections 245A-245D, moreover, cooperate with one or more fastener engaging elements disposed on the instep cover to engage the fastener 120 and secure the shoe 100 to the foot of the wearer. Further, as depicted in the drawings, the loops 245 formed on the lateral quarter 215 extend in a direction generally continuous and coplanar with the lateral side 205B, where the loops 245 extend upward and away from the sole structure 110. In particular, the exterior surface of the loops 245 is generally continuous or coplanar with the exterior surface of the lateral side 205B (since the loops are integral with the lateral side).
  • It is further noted that any other suitable type of fastener engaging members can be provided as an alternative for the looped sections 245 described herein. For example, the lateral quarter 215 can alternatively be provided with any suitable plurality of openings (e.g., sockets or eyelets, cut-out sections, etc.) that are configured as part of the lacing system to receive the fastener 120 in a suitable manner that facilitates lacing of the fastener for the upper 105. Alternatively, the looped sections can be separate elements that are secured to the upper in any suitable manner (e.g., via an adhesive, via stitching, etc.).
  • The lacing system 112 also includes fastener engaging members or elements that are disposed on the medial side and/or top side of the instep cover. For example, the instep cover 240 may include one or more fastener engaging elements in the form of narrow, elongated openings or slots 260 operable to permit passage of the fastener through the openings. As depicted, e.g., in FIGS. 5A and 5B, the instep cover 240 includes a first set 265A of slots, a second set 265B of slots, and a third set 265C of slots. The slots 260 forming a set 265 (e.g., sets 265A, 265B and 265C) are generally aligned in a linear row extending along a lengthwise direction of the upper 105. The slot sets 265A-265C are also laterally spaced across the instep cover 240, with each set running generally parallel to an adjacent set.
  • Each slot set 265 includes a plurality of slots 260 extending in a generally linear array along the lengthwise dimension (i.e., a dimension that extends between the toe cage 230 and heel section 210) of the upper 105. The slots 260 within a set 265 may be arranged in a series of slot pairs 270 including a first slot 275A adjacent a second slot 275B. These two adjacent slots 275A, 275B are closer in proximity to each other compared to the next closest slot 260 neighboring the pair 270 along the linear array. The region between each slot 260 within a slot pair 270 (i.e., the section of the upper 105 between the slots 260 of a pair 270) defines a material loop 280 along the instep cover 240 when the fastener 120 is guided or “threaded” between the pair of slots 260. With this configuration, each slot pair 270 defines an engagement location or connection point for the fastener 120. Specifically, the fastener 120 may be inserted through a first slot 275A of a slot pair 270 such that it enters the cavity 332, travels along the interior surface of the instep cover 240, and then exits the cavity via the second slot 275B. When the fastener is engaged within the loop 280, the loop 280 extends transversely from the surface portions of the instep cover 240/medial quarter 220 surrounding the loop. The loop 280 further applies a downward (toward the cavity 332) force onto the fastener 120, frictionally securing the fastener in place.
  • As illustrated (e.g., in FIGS. 5A and 5B), each successive slot set 265A, 265B, 265C is oriented further toward the medial shoe side 205A (toward the medial quarter 220) in relation to the previous slot set. Each slot pair 270 is further aligned with a corresponding looped section 245A-245D so as to facilitate lacing of a fastener 120 (shoe lace) in a serpentine, alternating or zig-zag pattern between looped sections 245A-245D and loops 280 as the fastener 120 extends in a back-and-forth manner between the medial and lateral sides of the upper in order to tighten or loosen the lateral, medial, and/or midfoot regions of the shoe 100 to conform in a desired manner against a user's foot.
  • As described above, the lacing system 112 of the shoe 100 includes a first lacing structure with fastener engaging elements on the lateral quarter 215 of the upper 105 and a second lacing structure with fastener engaging elements on the instep cover 240/medial quarter 220 of the upper 105. Specifically, the looped sections 245A-245D maintain the fastener 120 on the shoe exterior (outside the cavity 332), while the slot sets 265A-265C permit the fastener into shoe interior (into cavity). Further, the looped sections 245 extend in a continuous and/or coplanar manner from the exterior surface of the upper (i.e., at the lateral quarter 215) while the loops 280 defined between pairs of slots 260 of the slot sets 265 extend transversely from the exterior surface of the upper (i.e., at the instep cover 240/medial quarter 220) or curve outward from the cavity of the upper. Thus, the lacing system for the shoe 100 includes different lacing structure with different fastener engaging elements at each of its lateral side 205B and medial side 205A that facilitate lacing of the fastener (shoe lace) for the shoe.
  • In addition, providing a plurality of slot sets 265A-265C, where the slot sets are spaced from each other in directions transverse the lengthwise dimension of the upper (i.e., increasing in direction toward the medial quarter 220 and/or lateral quarter 215 of the upper 105), facilitates different locations for lacing the fastener 120 along the instep cover 240 and through the loops 280 formed by slot pairs 270 and proximate the medial quarter 220 (i.e., opposite the lateral quarter 215 including looped sections 245A-245D). To describe this feature in another manner, each successive slot set 265A, 265B, 265C (which extends further in direction toward the medial side) extends further in distance from the corresponding looped sections 245A-245D, where the selection of a slot set 265 through which to lace the fastener provides adjustability for the lacing system 112 to provide a looser or a tighter fit of the instep cover 240 and/or other portions of the upper 105 around the girth or width of the wearer's foot.
  • Referring to FIGS. 5A and 5B, the fastener 120 may extend through looped sections 245A-245D and the first slot set 265A (FIG. 5A). Alternatively, the fastener 120 extends from looped sections 245A-245D to the third slot set 265C (FIG. 5B). Selection of a set 265 (e.g., set 265A, 265B or 265C) closer to/further away from the looped sections 245A-245D alters the overall fit of the shoe 100 on the foot of the wearer. In addition, it provides an adjustable fit depending on the girth of the foot as well as user preference. For example, with a large girth or wide foot, the more medially positioned sets 265B, 265C may be utilized to accommodate fit. Alternatively, for a small girth or narrower foot, set 265A might be utilized. The set 265 selected will alter the extent to which the instep cover 240 and the lateral quarter 215 overlap, providing a more- or less-compressive fit. In this manner, these further sets of slots 260 facilitate lacing of a fastener 120 through loops 280 and at different locations along the instep cover 240. Further, due to the ability of the instep cover 240 to be further moved within the cavity 332 and provide an adjustable overlap between instep cover 240 and lateral quarter 215, the adjustability of the lacing system 112 (by selecting different slot sets to lace the fastener) can be implemented to adjust the fit of the upper against the wearer's foot while maintaining a generally symmetrical positioning of the fastener 120 on the lateral and medial sides of the shoe.
  • In addition to providing fastener engaging elements for the lacing system, the slots may also provide additional functionality for the shoe. For example, the slots may enable flexing within the upper 105 (e.g., without excessive bunching), the slots may provide additional ventilation and air exchange (to help keep the foot cool) and/or the slots may be provided for aesthetic purposes.
  • The instep cover 240 can also include additional openings or windows 285 operable to improve airflow into/out of the upper. These openings 285 may possess any dimensions suitable for their described purpose. In general, the openings possess larger dimensions in relation to the slots 260. The openings 285, moreover, may be disposed at any location suitable for their described purpose. In the illustrated embodiment, the openings 285 are disposed at locations that are closer to the lateral side 205B of the shoe 100 in relation to the slots 260. The slots 260 and openings 285 may cooperate to enhance ventilation through the upper 105 during use of the shoe 100. As with the upper, the openings 285 may serve a variety of other functions. For example, the slots may enable flexing within the upper 105 (e.g., without excessive bunching) or may be provided for aesthetic purposes.
  • In addition, while not shown in the embodiments in the figures, the lateral quarter 215 of the upper 105 (i.e., at the lateral side 205B of the shoe 100) can also include slots 260, openings 285, and/or any other form of apertures to enhance ventilation through the upper during use of the shoe 100.
  • As previously noted, the upper 105 can be formed as a single, unitary member and utilizing a knitting process (e.g., a weft knitting process), where one or more strands run crosswise to form loops in one or more courses of the textile material. A flat knitting process (e.g., a Jacquard flat knitting process) can be utilized to form the textile material represented as the unitary member, where the flat knitting process produces a knitted material that has three-dimensional (e.g., curved) portions (e.g., the toe cage and heel section portions of the upper) and flat portions (all other portions of the upper). The upper 105 can initially be formed as a template or blank including generally flat or planar sections (e.g., including some or all of the portions forming the planum section 300, the medial quarter 220 with instep cover 240, and the lateral quarter 215 with linear segments or strips which form the looped sections 245A-245D) as well as non-planar or curved sections (e.g., three-dimensional section), including some or all of the portions forming the heel cup 400 and/or toe cage 230). The upper 105 is assembled from the template by folding certain portions over toward other portions and then securing such portions together (e.g., via stitching, adhesive, or any other suitable securing manner). The looped sections 245A-245D can be formed by folding over linear segments of the template and securing (e.g., via stitching, adhesive or any other suitable securing manner) the free edges to the upper. The resulting structure may then be heated (via steam) to shrink and/or set and/or fuse strands within the textile structure. Once set, the upper 105 may be secured to the sole structure 110 via, e.g., adhesive.
  • The types of strands provided at various locations of the knitted upper can be varied to impart different properties at such locations such as varying elasticity/stretching properties, different thermal/heat transfer properties, different tear resistance/material strength properties, etc. As previously noted, that vamp section can be provided with a region 287 that is formed with yarns comprising one or more polymers having poor thermal resistance properties (so as to facilitate transfer of heat from the shoe at region 287).
  • The instep cover 240 and/or other portions of the medial quarter 240 or upper can also be formed with strands and/or yarns comprising polymers have a sufficient elasticity (e.g., strands and/or yarns formed from elastane) to facilitate stretching of the instep cover 240 and medial quarter 220 in a direction toward the lateral quarter 215 when the fastener structure (e.g., shoe lace) is threaded through different sets of slots 260 (e.g., through set 265A, 265B or 265C, such as depicted in FIGS. 5A and 5B). For example, the instep cover 240, medial quarter 240 and/or other portions of the medial side 205A can be formed from a material (e.g., strands and/or yarns) having a degree of elasticity that is greater (i.e., more elastic or more stretchable) than at least one other portion of the upper 105. In another example, the instep cover 240, medial quarter 240 and/or other portions of the medial side 205A can be formed from a material (e.g., strands and/or yarns) having a degree of elasticity that is greater (i.e., more elastic or more stretchable) than any other portion of the upper 105.
  • Assembly of the shoe 100 can be performed by initially forming the unitary member, e.g., via a flat knitting process as previously described herein. The slots 260 and openings 285 can be formed as voids in the knitting process and/or by removing material after the knitting process (i.e., forming cut-outs in the unitary member after it is formed). The upper 105 is then formed by folding over the portion of the unitary member defining the second portion (the vamp 225 and toe cage 230) is folded over the first portion (i.e., over the planum section 300) and secured (e.g., via stitching, an adhesive or any other suitable securing manner) to one or more free edge portions defined at the toe cage 230 with a free edge portion defining a front of the planum section 300 and a forward edge 305 of the instep cover 240 that is adjacent the rear edge of vamp 225.
  • The loop sections 245A-245D are formed by folding over linear segments that extend from the portion of the unitary member defining the lateral quarter 215 and securing (e.g., via stitching, adhesive or any other suitable securing manner) each linear segment at its free edge (defining a seam at such connection). The resultant textile upper 105 may then be heat treated to impart fusing to any fusing strands and/or yarns with adjacent yarns in the upper. A suitable heat treatment process such as treatment (e.g., with heated air, steam, etc.) can be implemented to achieve a suitable temperature (e.g., at least about 90° C., generally between about 85° C.-120° C.) at which the fusing strands sufficiently melt to obtain a fused surface area for the upper 105. For example, the textile upper 105 can be subjected to steam at a temperature from about 90° C. to about 120° C. (e.g., about 100° C.) to achieve sufficient melting of the fusing polymer components and sufficient fusion between strands and/or yarns within the upper 105.
  • The upper 105 including fused area(s) can be coupled with the heel counter 115 and sole structure 110 in any suitable manner as previously described herein. Alternatively, the upper 105 can be coupled with the heel counter 115 and sole structure 110 and then subsequently subjected to heat treatment to form the fused area(s) for the upper.
  • The upper 105 formed in this manner from a unitary member 700 defines a shell that encloses a foot inserted within the upper (e.g., in a manner similar to a sock). As described herein, the upper 105 includes an instep cover 240 that is integral (i.e., seamless) with the medial quarter 220, where the instep cover extends to a free end 315 such that the instep cover is generally configured as a flap which partially folds within the cavity 332 of the upper 105 and with the free end 315 being proximate or adjacent an interior surface portion of the lateral quarter 215 when the shoe 100 is worn by a user. The upper 105 can also be configured such that there is a variable amount or degree at which the free end 315 may extend within the cavity 332 of the upper 105, which correspondingly enhances the fit of the upper 105 against the user's foot when utilizing the lacing system 112 in the manner described herein. The fastener 120 (e.g., a lace) can be utilized to maintain the instep cover 240 at a particular degree or amount of fold within the upper cavity or overlap relative to the lateral quarter 215 (i.e., maintaining the distance that the free end 315 of the instep cover 240 is inserted within the cavity 332) so as to adjust the shoe fit to be tighter or more loose for a user as desired. As previously noted, a shoe lace can be laced through loops 280 provided between different sets of slots 265A-265C located medially (i.e., located closer toward the medial shoe side 205A) or laterally (i.e., located closer to the lateral shoe side 205B) in relation to other sets of slots 265A-265C so as to adjust the amount or degree of distance at which the free end 315 of the instep cover 240 folds within the cavity 332 of the upper 105.
  • Thus, the lacing system of the present invention permits insertion of the instep cover into the cavity 332 and below the lateral quarter 215. As previously described, the lacing system includes a first connection configuration that movably captures the fastener, positioning it along the exterior of the upper 105 and the exterior of the upper cavity 332, and a second connection configuration that movably captures the fastener, positioning at least a portion of the fastener within the upper interior (i.e., within the cavity 332). In other words, a portion of the fastener structure engaged by each of the fastener engaging elements of the first connection configuration is disposed between an interior surface portion of the upper and the cavity defined by the upper, and a portion of the fastener structure engaged by each of the fastener engaging elements of the second connection configuration is disposed external to the cavity defined by the upper. The first system includes a plurality of loops, each loop generally aligning with a corresponding slot pair. The second configuration may further include a plurality of slot pair sets aligned in the transverse dimension of the shoe 100, where each slot pair is effective to capture the fastener. Accordingly, the fastener is selectively secured a predetermined distance from a loop. Thus, the adjustable lacing system provides an adaptable fit, permitting users with differing feet girths to thread the fastener through the proper row of slots to alter the cavity diameter within the instep area of the foot.
  • While the embodiments described herein depict an adjustable lacing system in which a first type of fastener engaging elements in the form of loops are provided on the lateral side of the shoe and a second type of fastener element different from the first type and in the form of pairs of slots are provided on the medial side of the shoe, it is noted that the adjustable lacing system of the present invention is not limited to such embodiments but instead can be revised in any suitable manner to achieve the same or similar effect. For example, the first and second types of fastener engaging elements can be reversed in their positions, with the first type (loops) being located on the medial side of the shoe and the second type (pairs of slots) being located on the lateral side of the shoe. In another embodiment, the first and second types of fastener engaging elements can be the same or similar while still allowing adjustability. For example, each of the first and second types of fastener engaging elements can comprise pairs of slots, where the fastener (e.g., shoe lace) can be selectively inserted or “threaded” through different sets of slot pairs on either or both the medial and lateral sides of the shoe. The adjustable lacing system can further be configured to accommodate a plurality of fasteners of the same or varying types (e.g., two or more shoe laces, two or more button type fasteners, any combinations thereof, etc.) that selectively engage with fastener engaging elements in any suitable manner.
  • The lacing system of the present invention is particularly suitable for an embodiment including an instep cover that is integral with one side (e.g., lateral or medial side) of the upper such as the embodiment depicted in the drawings, such that adjusting the fastener/lacing structure to engage with different sets of fastener engagement elements that are aligned longitudinally and transverse the longitudinal direction of the shoe results in an effective loosening or tightening of the lateral and medial sides of the upper against the wearer's foot. However, the lacing system can also be implemented in shoes having a different configuration for the upper, such as an upper in which an instep cover (also referred to as a tongue) is not integral with but instead separated from both the lateral and medial sides of the upper. In this configuration, fastener engaging elements can be provided on the lateral and medial sides of the shoe to facilitate adjustable tightening or loosening of the upper against a wearer's foot in a manner similar to that described herein and depicted in the drawings.
  • While the invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof.
  • For example, while knitting has been described herein as an example process for forming the upper, it should be understood that other processes may be used to form structural portions of the upper. By way of specific example, woven and nonwoven processes may be utilized. Within the knit structure, various stitches may be used to provide different areas of the upper with different properties. For example, a first area may be formed of a first stitch configuration, and a second area may be formed of a second stitch configuration that is different from the first stitch configuration to impart varying textures, structures, patterning, and/or other characteristics to the upper member. In addition, Bemis Associates, Inc. of Shirley, Mass., United States manufactures polymer heat seal seam tapes that may be utilized to reinforce seams, replace stitching, and/or prevent fraying. The seam tapes are thermoplastic polymers that may be applied by commercially-available taping machines and join textile sections formed of a variety of materials, such as polyester, cotton, and blended fabrics that include both polyester and cotton fibers.
  • The lacing system 112 can be configured to engage with a securing structure other than a shoe lace for purposes of loosening or tightening the fit of the upper 105 on the user's foot. For example, in other embodiments, securing structure (e.g., hook and loop fasteners, button/snap fasteners, etc.) can be provided proximate the free end 315 of the instep cover 240 and also correspondingly along an interior upper surface portion at the lateral quarter 215 to secure the instep cover free end with the lateral quarter.
  • The lacing system 112 for the upper 105 can include different fastener engaging elements on the lateral and medial sides of the upper (e.g., loops 245 on the lateral side and sets of slots 260 defining loops on the medial side as shown in the drawings). Alternatively, fastener engaging elements of the same or similar types can be provided on both lateral and medial sides. Further, the loops 245 as depicted in the drawings can alternatively be provided on the medial side of the upper 105, while sets of slots 260 are provided on the lateral side of the upper 105.
  • The instep cover 240 can be integral with and an extension of either the medial quarter 220 (as described herein and depicted in the drawings) or, alternatively, integral with and an extension of the lateral quarter 215 (i.e., a reverse of the configuration described herein).
  • The loops 245 of the lacing system 112 can be formed in any suitable shapes, dimensions and/or locations along the upper to facilitate engagement with fastener structure. As previously described herein, the loops 245 can be integrally formed as part of the upper (e.g., as part of a unitary knit structure that forms the upper), where elongated segments of the material forming the upper are folded upon each other to define the loops. Alternatively, the loops can also be separate from the material forming the upper, where the loops are secured in any suitable manner to a surface of the upper (e.g., via adhesive, stitching, etc.).
  • The slots 260 in the various sets 265 used to form loops 280 that engage with the fastener (shoe lace or other fastening structure) can have any suitable sizes and/or shapes and can further be arranged in any suitable orientations and locations along the lateral and/or medial sides of the upper so as to facilitate adjustable engagement of one or more fasteners to control the loosening or tightening of the shoe against the wearer's foot. The openings 285 may also have any suitable sizes, shapes and/or orientations suitable for their intended purpose of providing adequate airflow through the upper 105. In some embodiments, some or all of the openings can be suitably dimensioned, shaped and oriented in pairs to serve as slots 260 capable of defining loops 280 for adjustable engagement with fastening structure as part of the lacing system for the shoe.
  • The access opening or collar 230 may be finished with any suitable material, e.g., fabric tape applied via adhesive. In an example embodiment, a strip of material is applied around an inside edge of collar 235 to allow the edge of collar to be finished without a binding to reduce fraying and/or to help collar adhere to the skin of the user. The material may be an elastomeric and/or tacky polymer such as, but not limited to, polyurethane, silicone, nylon, and polyester. In another exemplary embodiment as described herein, the collar 235 may be formed of a textile material that is constructed of a composition of yarns or strands that differ from other textile material portions of the upper 105. The remaining portion of the opening to the interior cavity of the upper 105 is defined by an edge 305 of the instep cover 240 that extends from the medial quarter 220 toward the lateral quarter 215 when the instep cover 240 is folded over to fit within the interior cavity 332 of the upper 105 along lateral shoe side 205B as described herein.
  • As previously described herein, the lacing system can be implemented for a shoe upper that includes a conventional tongue instead of an instep cover 240 (i.e., where the tongue includes a longitudinally extending member free on its lateral and medial sides).
  • Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents. It is to be understood that terms such as “top”, “bottom”, “front”, “rear”, “side”, “height”, “length”, “width”, “upper”, “lower”, “interior”, “exterior”, and the like as may be used herein, merely describe points of reference and do not limit the present invention to any particular orientation or configuration.

Claims (20)

What is claimed:
1. An article of footwear comprising:
an upper including a heel section, a vamp, a toe cage, a lateral side and a medial side, wherein the upper defines a cavity to receive a foot that is defined between the heel section, the vamp, the toe cage and the medial and lateral sides; and
an adjustable lacing system comprising a plurality of fastener engaging elements located at the medial side and the lateral side, wherein at least one of the medial side and the lateral side includes sets of fastener engaging elements, each set of fastener engaging elements is distanced from another set in a direction transverse a lengthwise direction of the upper, and the fastener engaging elements are configured to engage with and retain a fastener structure that extends between the medial and lateral sides of the upper such that the fastener structure is selectively engageable with different sets of fastener engaging elements to adjust a fit of the upper around a width of the foot disposed within the cavity.
2. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the fastener engaging elements comprise first fastener engaging elements located at one of the medial and lateral sides and second fastener engaging elements located at the other of the medial and lateral sides, and the first fastener engaging elements differ from the second fastener engaging elements.
3. The article of footwear of claim 2, wherein a portion of the fastener structure engaged by each of the first fastener engaging elements is disposed external to the cavity defined by the upper, and a portion of the fastener structure engaged by each of the second fastener engaging elements is disposed between an interior surface portion of the upper and the cavity defined by the upper.
4. The article of footwear of claim 2, wherein the sets comprise the second fastener engaging elements, the second fastener engaging elements comprise a plurality of slots extending through the upper at one of the medial and lateral sides, each set includes at least one pair of slots aligned in a linear array that extends the lengthwise direction of the upper, and each slot is suitably dimensioned to receive a portion of the fastener structure when the fastener structure is guided through each slot of a pair.
5. The article of footwear of claim 4, wherein the second fastener engaging elements are configured such that an exterior surface portion of the upper defined between the slots of each pair curves outward and away from the cavity of the upper when the fastener structure is guided through each slot of the pair.
6. The article of footwear of claim 4, wherein the first fastener engaging elements comprise looped segments extending from the other of the medial and lateral sides, and each looped segment is suitably dimensioned to receive a portion of the fastener structure.
7. The article of footwear of claim 6, wherein the looped segments are integral with the other of the medial and lateral sides such that an exterior surface of each looped segment is continuous with an exterior surface of the other of the medial and lateral sides.
8. The article of footwear of claim 6, wherein each pair of slots in each set that is located at one of the medial and lateral sides is aligned with a corresponding looped segment located at the other of the medial and lateral sides to facilitate engagement of at least part of the fastener structure with a pair of slots and a corresponding looped segment as the part of the fastener structure extends between the medial and lateral sides.
9. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the fastener engaging elements are configured to receive and retain a shoe lace that is guided through the fastener engaging elements as the shoe lace extends in a zig-zag pattern between the medial and lateral sides.
10. The article of footwear of claim 1, further comprising an instep cover that is integral with one of the medial and lateral sides and includes a free end, wherein the instep cover is suitably dimensioned to extend toward the other of the medial and lateral sides such that at least the free end of the instep cover extends within the cavity defined by the upper.
11. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein the instep cover includes at least some of the sets of fastener engaging elements.
12. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein the upper comprises a knitted textile material.
13. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein the upper is formed of a unitary member comprising a textile material.
14. The article of footwear of claim 1, further comprising a sole structure secured with the upper.
15. An article of footwear comprising:
an upper including a heel section, a vamp, a toe cage, a lateral side and a medial side, wherein the upper defines a cavity to receive a foot that is defined between the heel section, the vamp, the toe cage and the medial and lateral sides; and
an adjustable lacing system, the adjustable lacing system comprising:
a first connection configuration located at one of the medial and lateral sides, wherein the first connection configuration engages a fastener structure so as to position at least one portion of the fastener structure exterior to the cavity of the upper; and
a second connection configuration located at the other of the medial and lateral sides, wherein the second connection configuration engages the fastener structure so as to position at least another portion of the fastener structure within the cavity of the upper;
wherein the adjustable lacing system facilitates selective engagement of the fastener structure with different sets of fastener engaging elements of at least one of the first and second connection configurations so as to adjust a fit of the upper around a width of the foot disposed within the cavity.
16. The article of footwear of claim 15, wherein the fastener structure comprises a shoe lace, and the adjustable lacing system is configured to receive and retain the shoe lace such that the shoe lace is guided through fastener engaging elements of the first and second connection configurations as the shoe lace extends in a zig-zag pattern between the medial and lateral sides.
17. The article of footwear of claim 15, wherein the first connection configuration comprises a plurality of looped segments extending from one of the medial and lateral sides, and each looped segment is suitably dimensioned to receive a portion of the fastener structure.
18. The article of footwear of claim 17, wherein the second connection configuration comprises a plurality of slots extending through the upper at the other of the medial and lateral sides, the plurality of slots being arranged in sets, each set being distanced from another set in a direction transverse a lengthwise direction of the upper and including at least one pair of slots aligned in a linear array that extends the lengthwise direction of the upper, and each slot being suitably dimensioned to receive a portion of the fastener structure when the fastener structure is guided through each slot of a pair.
19. The article of footwear of claim 18, further comprising an instep cover that is integral with one of the medial and lateral sides and includes a free end, wherein the instep cover is suitably dimensioned to extend toward the other of the medial and lateral sides such that at least the free end of the instep cover extends within the cavity defined by the upper.
20. The article of footwear of claim 19, wherein the instep cover includes at least some of the sets of slots of the second connection configuration.
US15/147,943 2015-05-08 2016-05-06 Footwear Including an Adaptable and Adjustable Lacing System Pending US20160324269A1 (en)

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US10051918B2 (en) 2018-08-21
CN208463051U (en) 2019-02-05
US20170020229A1 (en) 2017-01-26
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EP3294084A4 (en) 2019-01-16
EP3294084A1 (en) 2018-03-21

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