APEX Insight: Airlines are gaining ground in the fashion world with futuristic footwear. Virgin America’s First Class Shoe shows off the airline’s premium amenities, while EasyJet’s Sneakairs with Google Maps integration make exploring new cities easier.
While many upper-class amenity kits include shoe-care products and slippers, airlines are sneaking into the fashion world with futuristic footwear.
San Francisco-based ad agency Eleven, Inc. has distilled the Virgin America first-class experience into a pair of kicks. The Italian leather sneakers boast a functional Wi-Fi hotspot, LED mood lighting, airline seat belt ankle straps, USB ports and a video screen.
“We really wanted to give people the chance to experience what it’s like to fly Virgin’s first-class cabin with both feet still on the ground,” said Mike McKay, chief creative officer at Eleven, Inc., in an interview with Adweek. “We spent almost eight months with Virgin America designing and executing the First Class Shoe. First, we looked at what was currently going on with wearable technology, and there didn’t seem to be a shoe that could deliver this level of technology.” The shoes were auctioned off on eBay in October, raising $97,877.77 for Soles4Souls, a not for profit organization that fights poverty by distributing shoes and clothing to those in need.
EasyJet is also taking a walk on the style side with a pair of smart shoes featuring the airline’s signature orange. The Sneakairs, which are equipped with Google Maps integration, are designed to help travelers explore new cities by giving vibration cues through the soles when it’s time to turn.
Fellow European low-cost carrier airBaltic entered the footwear game with a tech-free shoe that features a passenger-jet motif. The lack of fancy technical applications isn’t necessarily a bad thing by any stretch – sneaker enthusiasts are a passionate group, as marketers seem to have figured out. The airBalticShoe is available for purchase online for just over $50 on the airBalticShop.