Recently, numerous tyre manufacturers have been taking interest in partnering with shoe manufacturers for product development and marketing reasons. Michelin has also joined this bandwagon after Hankook partnered with Vibram and Continental already supplying Adidas with its rubber compounds for many years now. Michelin offers shoes as a part of its lifestyle range, but now the tyre maker is taking it further by extending its 12-year-old sports equipment partnership with Babolat. The company will also team up with French tennis player Alize Cornet.
Christian Delhaye, MD of Michelin Lifestyle, said, “Competitive sports are the ultimate testbed for innovation and have been a part of Michelin’s history and development processes across all the Group’s activities, including Michelin Lifestyle. The skills partnership agreement we have signed with Alizé Cornet, a professional tennis player on the WTA circuit and a member of the French Fed Cup team, is a natural fit for Michelin. The aim of our partnership is to highlight the performance of tennis shoe outsoles in order to design new models.”
Alize Cornet will be playing the matches wearing Babolat’s flagship tennis shoe called ‘Propulse BPM’. Explaing the shoe’s highly innovative design, Michelin said, “During a tennis match, players either move sideways or diagonally 80 per cent of the time and tend to put their weight on the front of their feet. Babolat and Michelin closely observed and analysed the movements of tennis players to develop the first tennis-only shoe back in 2003. Babolat forged an exclusive partnership with tyre specialist Michelin to combine their expertise and meet the specific requirements of tennis players. This resulted in the design of a unique high-performance outsole.”
Movements like stopping abruptly, jumping, landing back on the ground, moving forward and sprinting require precision and efficiency. Michelin shared the motivation behind the development and said, “Inspired by rally tyres, Michelin’s outsoles feature exclusive rubber compounds and a tread design developed by Michelin especially for Babolat. Major breakthroughs have been achieved in terms of grip and resistance to abrasion, thereby improving durability. Alizé Cornet’s Babolat Propulse BPM shoes feature the very latest in outsole design with the Michelin OCS2 outsole.”