The creative minds of David Allemann, Olivier Bernhard, and Caspar Coppetti helped On mask a massive fanbase to include Olympians and celebrities worldwide.
We believe in the traditionally architectural principle that form has to support function. There is not a single design element on an On shoe that does not also have a functional purpose.
– On Founders
When and where did On start? I (David Allemann) established On in 2010 with my two friends Olivier Bernhard and Caspar Coppetti. Olivier is a former World Champion, and Caspar is an outdoor enthusiast from the Swiss Alps. Born in Switzerland, we came to the US just a few months later. Today, On has become the fastest growing running shoe brand in the US and globally as well. More than 5 million fans in 50 countries turn On into a worldwide movement. The US is our biggest fan community.
How did you come up with the name? We were workshopping different names when we realized a common theme among the first few who tried the shoes: all vocalized that they felt like their full body was engaged and switched On. We instantly loved the name and thought that it was simple, effortless, and to the point.
Describe your brand in three words. Technology. Design. Performance. Or in a sentence: unique look and feel powers performance.
What collaborations do you have in the works? We work with some of the best athletes who beat world records and win Olympic medals in On shoes. At the same time, we are proud that influencers like Oscar winners, actors like Will Smith and Blake Lively, Google founder Sergey Brin, sports stars like Roger Federer and even the Prince of Denmark are spotted in On because they love the shoes. These are not collabs or even paid partnerships – pure product passion.
Great price points. How did you manage to keep the pricing affordable? We keep it real. At On, you pay a premium price for very advanced running shoe technology. From a runner’s point of view, On shoes are expensive. It’s not a fashion play where inflated price points create desire without technical substance. However, this does not keep our design team to work very hard on an advanced design aesthetic. Running shoes have to speak to contemporary culture.
You have an impressive fan base. How do you keep them coming back? It comes down to a great product. On shoes look and feel different, and I think in general, consumers are craving authentic and unique products in all aspects of their lives, not just fitness. On started as an insider secret – something fans could tell their friends about and share the unique feel they had discovered first.
I love the minimalism of the brand. Was this on purpose? At On, we believe in the power of simplicity and purposeful design. The design thinking of Apple has changed the tech industry. Arcteryx has changed the outdoor industry. And Dyson is even changing the design language of household appliances.
We realized that when it comes to the design in running shoes, the reduction was the ultimate solution. We believe in the traditionally architectural principle that form has to support function. There is not a single design element on an On shoe that does not also have a functional purpose.
With our legendary Swiss design precision, every single aspect of the shoes is meticulously measured and tested to maximize performance, whether it’s on race day or just a walk to yoga class. If On shoes have a compelling aesthetic, this is not because of styling or over-design, it’s just the result of a problem-solving process.
What is the technology used to keep the sneakers so light? Our patented outsole technology features multi-sized, hollow pods called “Clouds.” It’s not just a new foam but a radical new approach to engineer the feel of running.
We combine the comfort of a training shoe with the explosive agility of a racing shoe. 15 hollow “Clouds” collapse upon landing for incredible cushioning. Then they become firm for an explosive push-off. Because we achieve this trick with a hollow structure, they are also incredibly light. The first set-in is the moment of truth. Many people go: “Wow, this is different.” We call it running on clouds.
We love your Instagram feed. How has social media helped your brand? We love telling stories. We use our social media platforms, specifically Instagram, to tell stories from all around the world about our athletes, our fans, and even our team that inspire us every day. A great product is the new marketing. If people love it, they share – hence why new brands can evolve very fast if they are loved and shared. Love, not money, is the new currency of young brands.
Who is the Creative Director behind the brand? I have worked with our product designer Thilo Alex Brunner from the very start of On back in 2010 where we created our design vision. Thilo and I have jointly directed the design of our shoes, apparel, and designed our brand spaces and office together. Thilo is a professor at one of Europe’s leading design schools, and I had the privilege to work with some of the best designers and architects in the world while at design company Vitra.
We keep our radars wide open and have brought an exceptional team of product designers, art directors, and digital designers together at On’s creative lab. More than ten nationalities and very different perspectives.