One thing that the Olympics always brings to the forefront is innovation in technical clothing which eventually seeps into leading-edge fashion styles, especially when it comes to footwear. In one of the longest drawn-out battles between the sneaker titans Nike and Adidas, each making dozens of different models of sneaks for various Olympic sports for the Beijing Olympics next month, some are sure to have an impact on the future of sneaker designs in other categories such as music-inspired sneaks, skateboard-inspired sneaks, and the growing category of upper street fashion sneakers-as-contemporary footwear.

Using the Olympics to showcase new designs for both big brands, as well as Puma, Asics, and Reebok, will also act as a launching platform for the sneaker brands hoping to instill greater brand loyalty in the growing middle class Chinese marketplace. This requires creating cool designs for sports that are a big deal in Asia, including Adidas’ new designs for badminton, weightlifting, fencing, rowing, and Nike’s new designs for basketball and the old-school martial arts practice called wushu. We anticipate the sport of wushu (or a version thereof) to become a big hit in the American marketplace with the rise of martial arts and martial arts dance moves because wushu includes cool looking gymnastic-like spins, martial arts moves, and kung fu like fighting. The wushu shoes by Nike are also streamlined in red and instead of being made with canvas, are made of leather which covers the shoelaces. They also include stealth side pockets to hide shoelace tips since wushu requires the participants to slap their shoes during certain moves -all adding to the cool-factor of these models.

Other very interesting styles include Adidas’ weightlifting shoe with their black and white stripes, and heel platform which makes them actually look like girl’s saddle shoes; and their table tennis shoe which allows for the tongue to be moved forward (similar in style to Nike’s badminton shoe).

Another cool new design which will influence the equestrian-prep look in the future is Nike’s new equestrian boot intended for horseback riders, but made in sleek curved styles and not in leather, with zippers, all in black except for a tiny red swoosh at the heel.

Adidas’ boxing shoe has what they call a “birds nest” synthetic mesh which wraps around the entire ankle and absorbs sweat and yet is super lightweight. This style totally transcends into the latest dance-inspired techno-hip-hop fashion.

However the collector’s item for sneaker-freakers in the future will probably be Nike’s new basketball shoe made in China red and yellow that uses what they call “flywire” to replace thick materials, and create a sort of bridge suspension to hold the foot.

In other Olympic news updates, the IOC has finally launched their “Best of Us” campaign to try and get young people interested in the Olympics once again, starting with a program called “Teens” (pathetically enough), created by United, which is part of WPP. In their efforts to spread the values of the Olympics, including “excellence, friendship, and respect” the IOC has commissioned United to roll-out several campaigns including “Teens” and “Heroes” with the likes of Roger Federer, Yao Ming, Yelena Isenbayeva, among others through print and “interactive viral video” and digital components (guessing they mean MySpace, Facebook, YouTube) to help communicate the “values” and transcend the idea that participating in sports are cool.

As noted in many previous stories about the IOC trying to attract youth culture including the launch of the Youth Olympic Games (search IOC on Label Networks for more), the name alone for the youth segment of this campaign, other than being just plain unimaginative, borders on being condescending if you consider that they’re trying to attract a very savvy demographic that can’t stand being classified. The “Teens” video itself is based on the premise that young people are insecure and don’t fit in, but not in an Emily Strange, Hope is Emo way, but more from a nerdy perspective (whatev), as it goes through several different young people from different countries saying snippets like, “I’m not a loner, I’m not weird, I don’t have big ears ” in many languages, then rounding out in the end by the same “misfit nerdy teens” saying, “I’m an athlete” with clips of each of them participating in their sport. Yet again, you have to wonder what planet (and century) the IOC is coming from with such a campaign, and in this case, United from WPP. Clearly, there are better usages for the money being spent here, like perhaps, supporting sports and athletes that people actually care about.