If K-Swiss makes you think of country club whites, flag emblems, five stripes and ring lacing then you haven’t been paying attention to their recent releases. Models such as the Knitshot, Ultrashot and Hypercourt Express have all pushed the look and technical aspects of their shoes. And the new Aero Knit is arguably the company’s most innovative shoe to date. Besides being the lightest K-Swiss has ever produced, it has a one-of-a-kind upper that makes an immediate impression.
Indeed, on my first trial with the Aero Knit, my playing partners assumed the bold cosmetic and distinctive, minimalist upper was something funky from the minds at Adidas or Nike. The apparent lack of laces didn’t scream K-Swiss. Actually, the Infi-Knit upper is more like an outer shell; under the hood there’s a molded, EVA sock liner that hugs and locks in the foot when cinched up with the buried lacing system. You access the laces by pulling back the flap on the upper, and then tucking them back under after tying. It’s a little clumsy at first, but becomes easier after repeated attempts.
Having covert laces gives the appearance that you’re wearing a sleek, athletic slipper. And the shoe follows suit by being supple and comfortable right out of the box. But the upper does serve the more practical functions of added support and, according to K-Swiss, is ultimately meant to protect the laces from wear and tear. However, this is a little like solving a problem I didn’t know I had. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I snapped a pair of laces.
So, for me, the Infi-Knit upper is more of an aesthetic device for which I have mixed feelings. It’s unique looking and easy on the feet, but in the end, I’d prefer to have full access to the laces. However, it does do a decent job in terms of lateral support. The forefoot has a medium cut, which is plenty of room for my narrow foot to spread out on contact, but the full-bootie construction offered enough security to avoid excessive shifting or sliding inside the shoe during most routine changes of directions. The TPU midfoot chassis and molded EVA that rises on the lateral side also contribute to shoe integrity and prevent ankle rolling during movement.
The shoe also felt well-cushioned from tip to tail. The Surge midsole soaked up shock, and provided a nice balance of court feel and responsiveness. The Aosta 7.0 outsole with DragGuard for durability, has a modified herringbone design that translates well to any surface, with extra material around the toe cap and medial sides. It’s firm without being unyielding, adding to the overall comfortable feel.
The heel collar is padded with a textile lining designed to grab the sock and keep the back of the foot steady. Yet, if I had to point to the most glaring shortcoming of the shoe, it was heel slippage. When I moved aggressively there were several instances when my heel wouldn’t sit still. The slightly lower arch also didn’t help my foot in this regard. Even though the shoe is so light and aerodynamic, this lack of security prevented me from moving as confidently and intensely as with a model that instilled more confidence.
Ultimately, opinions on the Aero Knit will boil down to priorities. Because at the bare minimum, the Aero Knit is a comfortable shoe with a novel look. It’s extremely lightweight and the flexible upper functions almost as a soft but sturdy sock. If I knew I had to wear my tennis shoes for a long stretch of time, these would be at the top of the list. Depending on playing style and movement tendencies, it may not provide enough overall support to recommend it for serious competition. But for more casual players, especially ones that put a premium on style, the Aero Knit should be a real head-turner.