Title:
ARTICLE OF FOOTWEAR WITH IMPROVED STRUCTURE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An article of footwear that includes a first envelope extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and heightwise from a bottom to a top end, the first envelope demarcating a volume for receiving a foot, the article of footwear including a second envelope extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and heightwise from a bottom to a top end, the second envelope demarcating a volume for receiving a foot, the first envelope and the second envelope being arranged opposite one another. In the area of at least one subdivision, the article of footwear includes an intermediate component deformable elastically and reversibly, the intermediate component being arranged between the first envelope and the second envelope.



Inventors:
Gautier, Gérard (Yens, CH)
Boucher, Béatrice (Chilly, FR)
Cretinon, Frédéric (Metz-Tessy, FR)
Giacobone, Frédéric (Annecy, FR)
Borel, René (Saint-Sylvestre, FR)
Grenet, Benjamin (Moye, FR)
Application Number:
15/327555
Publication Date:
06/29/2017
Filing Date:
07/08/2015
Assignee:
SALOMON S.A.S. (Metz-Tessy, FR)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B23/02; A43B13/12; A43B23/04; A43B23/07; A43B23/26
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080127512SIZING SYSTEM FOR BOOTS AND SHOES AND ARTICLE THEREFORJune, 2008Barclay
20090000153Ventilated FootwearJanuary, 2009Grimmeisen
20090282698Slipper arrangements; and methodsNovember, 2009Kovacs et al.
20080127515BALANCING SHOESJune, 2008Lohrer
20040134103Dressing holder and a combination of a foot bed and such a dressing holderJuly, 2004Kohler et al.
20030226280Textile-soled footwearDecember, 2003Paratore et al.
20070277394Article of Footwear with Open UpperDecember, 2007Hansen et al.
20070051013Shoe ventilation systemMarch, 2007Akhidime
20090126223Form fitting cover for high heel shoesMay, 2009Metzger
20090038182Footwear with built-in scaleFebruary, 2009Lans et al.
20030208932Golf shoe cleat brushNovember, 2003Thompson



Primary Examiner:
HALL, FORREST G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GREENBLUM & BERNSTEIN, P.L.C. (1950 ROLAND CLARKE PLACE RESTON VA 20191)
Claims:
1. 1-17. (canceled)

18. Article of footwear comprising: a first envelope extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and heightwise from a bottom to a top end, the first envelope demarcating a volume configured to receive a foot of a wearer; a second envelope extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and heightwise from a bottom to a top end, the second envelope demarcating a volume configured to receive the foot of the wearer; the first envelope and the second envelope being arranged opposite one another; and in an area of at least one subdivision of the article of footwear, a reversibly elastically deformable intermediate component arranged between the first envelope and the second envelope.

19. Article of footwear according to claim 18, further comprising: a reinforcement, the reinforcement comprising a bottom, at least one lateral arm extending from the bottom to a free end in a direction away from the bottom, the free end having a keeper, at least one medial arm extending from the bottom to a free end in a direction away from the bottom, the free end having a keeper, and at least one lace extending through the keepers.

20. Article of footwear according to claim 21, wherein: the lateral arm and the medial arm are at least partially arranged between the first envelope and the second envelope, and in that the keepers are arranged outside of the first envelope and also outside of the second envelope.

21. Article of footwear according to claim 18, wherein: the intermediate component is a tongue, the tongue being located in an area of the top ends of the first and second envelopes, the tongue extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and depthwise between a bottom and a top.

22. Article of footwear according to claim 21, wherein: the rear end of the tongue is affixed to the first envelope and/or to the second envelope, a substantial portion of the remainder of the tongue being detached from the first envelope and/or from the second envelope.

23. Article of footwear according to claim 21, further comprising: a lacing portion; and the tongue extends beneath the lacing portion.

24. Article of footwear according to claim 21, wherein: the tongue comprises a layer of elastically deformable synthetic material.

25. Article of footwear according to claim 21, wherein: at least one of the first and second envelopes has folds in an area of the lateral side and/or of the medial side of the tongue.

26. Article of footwear according to claim 18, further comprising: a sole assembly; the intermediate component is a portion of the sole assembly, the portion of the sole assembly being located in an area of respective bottoms of the first and second envelopes; and the portion of the sole assembly extends lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and depthwise between a bottom and a top.

27. Article of footwear according to claim 26, wherein: the intermediate component extends opposite the entirety of the bottoms of the first and second envelopes.

28. Article of footwear according to claim 26, wherein: the intermediate component extends opposite the bottoms of the first and second envelopes.

29. Article of footwear according to claim 26, wherein: the intermediate component is affixed to the first envelope and/or to the second envelope.

30. Article of footwear according to claim 26, wherein: the intermediate component comprises a layer of elastically deformable synthetic material.

31. Article of footwear according to claim 26, further comprising: a wear layer and at least one intermediate layer located between the wear layer and the bottoms of the envelopes; and the wear layer and the intermediate layer form the sole assembly.

32. Article of footwear according to claim 26, further comprising: a wear layer directly affixed to a bottom of an envelope.

33. Article of footwear according to claim 18, wherein: for the first envelope, at least a portion of the yarns comprises at least one hot melt filament.

34. Article of footwear according to claim 18, wherein: for the second envelope, at least a portion of the yarns comprises at least one hot melt filament.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to an article of footwear, such as a shoe or any equivalent. The article of footwear can be used in fields such as walking, running on flat or mountainous terrain, skateboarding, ball-playing sports, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, biking, and the like.

2. Description of the Background

An article of footwear must fulfill various and sometimes contradictory functions, such as providing adequate support and/or tightening of the foot while providing satisfactory comfort for the foot. The article of footwear must also have a certain flexibility, a property that involves good deformability to certain deformations of the foot. In other words, the article of footwear must adapt to the foot while allowing it to have the freedom required for walking or practicing the sport involved.

To this end, it is known to make articles of footwear, such as shoes, by combining an upper and a sole assembly. The upper generally includes a number of components, such as a lateral quarter, a medial quarter, a vamp, a tongue, a heel, a rear counter, a protective toe-cap, a tightening device including keepers and a lace, an inner lining, and may have other components. Moreover, some of these components may include a plurality of portions. The main problem with a shoe is in assembling and turning components that are cut and assembled flat into a three-dimensional shape. Conventionally, the upper is associated with a lasting sole to demarcate a footwear element. According to a first method, the upper is glued to the lasting sole using an adhesive layer. The lasting sole, also referred to as the lasting board, is relatively rigid to withstand the assembly process. The gluing operation is carried out by pulling the upper and pressing it flat onto the lasting board, with a last being inserted in the upper. This is known as the traditional shoe lasting assembly. This technique makes it possible to exert sufficient pressure when heating the adhesive in order to obtain the footwear element. A second method, also known, involves obtaining the footwear element by stitching the upper to the lasting board. This is referred to as the Strobel assembly. The lasting board in this case is a flexible stitchable sole, referred to as the Strobel sole. For each of the first and second methods, the lasting board is integral with the sole assembly. The sole assembly further comprises external components, such as one or more damping layers and a wear layer adapted to contact the ground, which are generally attached using an adhesive to the lasting board and the lasted upper. The sole assembly further comprises one or more inner layers arranged in the footwear element to fulfill protective functions in terms of hygiene, shock-absorption, arch of the foot support, or the like. Finally, the association of the footwear element with the other constituent components of the sole assembly forms the shoe.

Irrespective of the method used for its manufacture, a prior art shoe has certain disadvantages. First, the shoe uses a large number of components, typically between forty and sixty components. Such a large number of shoe-forming components increases the number of manufacturing operations and the time required to carry out such operations. It usually takes forty minutes to one hour and thirty minutes to make a shoe. It can be said that shoes manufactured using conventional techniques are complicated, both by the number of their components and the number of manufacturing operations.

Another disadvantage results from the structure discontinuity of the shoe, in particular in the area of the upper. For example, a component of reduced size superimposed on another, larger component, may considerably modify the bendability of the upper in the location of the small component. This may hinder a user and also render the shaping, i.e., three-dimensional shaping, of the upper more difficult.

A further disadvantage is due to the presence of free spaces between the foot and the shoe. This means that the foot is not in contact with the upper or the sole assembly in certain locations. This is especially true in the area of certain portions of the junction between the upper and the lasting board. As a result, undesired displacements occur sometimes between the foot and the shoe, which can cause discomfort or injuries. Also, spaces sometimes appear between the foot, the ankle, or the lower leg and the upper, in the area of the foot-insertion opening. Consequently, undesired foreign bodies may penetrate into the shoe.

Finally, it can be said that a shoe according to the prior art does not always ensure adequate support and/or tightening of the foot, or does not always provide satisfactory comfort for the foot. Moreover, this shoe does not systematically conform to all of the foot deformations.

In view of the foregoing, the Applicant has proposed an alternative approach to making an article of footwear.

For example, according to the document FR 2 999 881, an article of footwear comprises one or two envelopes, each envelope extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and heightwise from a bottom to a top end, each envelope including yarns linked to one another mechanically.

The envelopes are shaped into a three-dimensional volume upon being positioned on a last in order to have a geometry that is very similar to that of a foot, and thereby closely conform to the shape of the foot in a very uniform fashion. This means that the foot is in contact with, or at least very close to, the envelopes. This results in an evenly distributed support of the foot, with very few or no undesired displacements between the foot and the envelopes. A resulting advantage is increased comfort of the article of footwear, compared to a shoe according to the prior art.

From the arrangement according to the document FR 2 999 881, each envelope has a structure continuity, in the sense that its inner surface and/or outer surface are at least substantially uniform, if not completely uniform. This advantageously results in less or no discomfort for the user.

A synthesis of the foregoing shows that the envelopes support the foot and provide adequate comfort therefor. Furthermore, each envelope is capable of conforming to the foot deformations. This enables the article of footwear according to the document FR 2 999 881 to fit comfortably in any situation, be it a static or dynamic situation.

Further noted from the arrangement according to the document FR 2 999 881 is a reduced number of components for manufacturing the article of footwear.

SUMMARY

In view of the foregoing, the invention generally aims to further improve an article of footwear. More specifically, the invention, for example, aims to improve the transmission of steering forces, the restitution of reactions from the ground or an apparatus, or the perception of sensory information. The invention aims to optimize usage efficiency and to reduce user fatigue. The invention further aims to meet the specific needs of a user by preserving its basic qualities, such as comfort and foot support. This is a real challenge when support or transmission of intense information is desired, for example during a sporting activity. Indeed, comfort and optimization in the transmission of forces are concepts that are a priori contradictory.

In order to solve the aforementioned problem, the invention proposes an article of footwear comprising a first envelope, the first envelope extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and heightwise from a bottom to a top end, the first envelope comprising yarns that are linked to one another mechanically, the first envelope demarcating a volume for receiving a foot, the article of footwear comprising a second envelope, the second envelope extending lengthwise from a rear end to a front end, widthwise between a lateral side and a medial side, and heightwise from a bottom to a top end, the second envelope comprising yarns that are linked to one another mechanically, the second envelope demarcating a volume for receiving a foot, the first and second envelopes being arranged opposite one another.

The article of footwear according to the invention comprises an intermediate component deformable elastically and reversibly in the area of at least one subdivision, the intermediate component being arranged between the first envelope and the second envelope.

This enables the article of footwear to have one or more specific properties at a given location. For example, as explained in detail below, the intermediate component may be a tongue in the area of the top ends of the envelopes. Alternatively, as will also be explained in detail below, the intermediate component may be a sole assembly portion in the area of the bottoms of the envelopes. In either case, the intermediate component enables a relative displacement of the portions of the envelopes that are opposite thereto. Because it is capable of compressing elastically and reversibly, the intermediate component enables the involved portions of the envelopes to come closer to one another, for example during particular stresses, and then to return to their natural spacing distance. This distance corresponds to the thickness of the intermediate component. By compressing, the intermediate component diffuses a portion of the compressive forces in directions other than a direction perpendicular thereto and thus dampens these forces. In other words, the intermediate component enlarges the transmission surface of the forces associated with the use of the article, of the various impulses, or of the sensory information. This advantageously improves the comfort of the article of footwear. Surprisingly, the transmission of forces, impulses, or information is not altered. The invention therefore succeeds in ensuring that the article is both comfortable and precise during use. This improves user performance and reduces user fatigue.

Generally speaking, it can be said that the invention improves the structure and method of manufacture of an article of footwear.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other characteristics and advantages of the invention will be better understood from the description which follows, with reference to the annexed drawings illustrating, by way of non-limiting embodiments, how the invention can be made, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective front view of an article of footwear, top side, according to a first embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross section along the line II-II of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective schematic view of a preform and of an intermediate component prior to assembly to one another, the preform being used to manufacture a first envelope and a second envelope of the article of footwear according to FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is similar to FIG. 3, in the case in which the preform and the intermediate component are assembled to one another,

FIG. 5 is a schematic view related to the construction of an envelope of the article of footwear according to FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is another schematic view related to the construction of an envelope of the article of footwear according to FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is another schematic view related to the construction of an envelope of the article of footwear according to FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a side view of a reinforcement adapted to be integrated into the article of footwear according to FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view related to the manufacture of the article of footwear according to FIG. 1;

FIG. 10 is another perspective view related to the manufacture of the article of footwear according to FIG. 1;

FIG. 11 is a cross-section, similar to FIG. 2, for a second embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 12 is a cross-section, similar to FIG. 2, for a third embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The first embodiment described below relates, for example, to an article of footwear for walking or running on flat or mountainous terrain. However, the first embodiment is applicable to other fields, such as those mentioned above.

The first embodiment is described below with reference to FIGS. 1 to 10.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, an article of footwear 1 is provided to receive the foot of the user. For convenience, the article of footwear 1 will be considered as a shoe in the following description although, as shown in detail below, its structure is completely unusual. Thus, the shoe 1 extends lengthwise along a longitudinal direction L, between a rear end or heel 4 and a front end or tip 5, and widthwise along a transverse direction W, between a lateral side 6 and a medial side 7.

As shown, the upper of the shoe 1 comprises a lower portion 10, provided to surround the foot, and has no upper portion. Alternatively, however, a shoe may be envisioned to include both a lower portion and an upper portion, the latter being provided to surround the ankle and possibly the lower leg.

According to the first embodiment described, the shoe 1 extends heightwise from a bottom 12 to a top end 13, that is to say, up to the free end of the lower portion 10 or of the shoe 1. The bottom is a subdivision of the shoe, on which the foot takes support.

The shoe 1 is structured to allow good foot rolling movement during walking, transmission of sensory information and forces when taking support or jump landing. Therefore, the shoe 1, or article of footwear, is relatively flexible.

As described in detail below, the shoe 1 comprises a first envelope 21 extending lengthwise along the longitudinal direction L, from a rear end 24 to a front end 25, widthwise along the transverse direction W, between a lateral side 26 and a medial side 27, and heightwise from a bottom 28 to a top end 29. This enables the first envelope to surround and support the foot of the user. For its construction, the first envelope includes yarns linked to one another mechanically, as will be explained below. Also, at least a portion of the yarns of the first envelope comprises at least one hot-melt filament, as will also be explained below.

According to the first embodiment, and in a non-limiting manner, the yarns of the first envelope comprising at least one hot-melt filament are distributed over the entire first envelope 21, and the melting of the yarns contributes, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on their quantity and concentration, to the strength and/or the adhesion and/or the abrasion resistance of the first envelope. In fact, the melting enables the first envelope 21 to retain its shape by itself. It can be said that the first envelope 21 is a unitary component, on the one hand, and that it can form a self-supporting component, on the other hand, giving shape to the shoe, to a greater or lesser extent, as a function of the quantity/concentration of the yarns. Accordingly, the first envelope 21 provides or contributes to providing shape to the shoe 1. In other words, the rear end 24, the front end 25, the lateral side 26, and a medial side 27, the bottom 28 and the top end 29 of the first envelope demarcate the rear end 4, the front end 5, the lateral side 6, and a medial side 7, the bottom 12 and the top end 13, respectively, of the article of footwear or shoe 1. The minimalist structure used for the envelope 21 ensures simplicity, lightness, and many other advantages, as will be seen below.

Without limitation, and still according to the first embodiment of the invention, the shoe 1 also includes a second envelope 31 extending lengthwise along the longitudinal direction L, from a rear end 34 to a front end 35, widthwise along the transverse direction W, between a lateral side 36 and a medial side 37, and heightwise from a bottom 38 to a top end 39. The second envelope 31 also covers the foot, in the same fashion as the first envelope 21. The second envelope 31 is arranged outside of the first envelope 21 and, thereby, indirectly covers the foot. The final shape of the shoe 1 is provided by both the first envelope 21 and the second envelope 31. The first envelope 21 and second envelope 31 are arranged opposite one another.

Still in the context of the invention, the second envelope 31 comprises yarns linked to one another mechanically. Here again, for the second envelope, at least a portion of the yarns comprises at least one hot-melt filament, as explained below. The yarns comprising at least one hot-melt filament are distributed over the entire second envelope 31, and the melting of the yarns contributes, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on their quantity and concentration, to the strength and/or the adhesion and/or the abrasion resistance of the second envelope. Here again, the melting enables the second envelope 31 to retain its shape by itself. It can be said that the second envelope 31 is a unitary component, on the one hand, and that it can form a self-supporting component, on the other hand, giving shape to the shoe, to a greater or lesser extent, as a function of the quantity/concentration of the yarns. Accordingly, the second envelope 31 also provides or contributes to providing shape to the shoe 1. In other words, the rear end 34, the front end 35, the lateral side 36, and a medial side 37, the bottom 38 and the top end 39 of the second envelope 31 also demarcate the rear end 4, the front end 5, the lateral side 6, and a medial side 7, the bottom 12 and the top end 13, respectively, of the article of footwear or shoe 1. The minimalist structure used for the envelope 31 ensures simplicity, lightness, and many other advantages, as will be seen below.

To better highlight the specificities of the invention, it is useful to describe how the envelopes 21, 31 are manufactured. This is done below with reference to FIGS. 3 to 7 in particular.

As initially shown schematically in FIG. 3, for example, each envelope 21, 31 is obtained by manufacturing a sleeve 41, that is to say, a flexible tube made of yarns linked to one another mechanically. The sleeve 41 is a preform for making the article of footwear 1. Without limitation, and in connection with the first embodiment, the sleeve 41 makes it possible to obtain both the first envelope 21 and the second envelope 31. The sleeve 41 extends lengthwise from a first end 42 to a second end 43. The first end 42 is closed using any technique known to one with ordinary skill in the art, for example stitching after folding, adding an end piece made of yarns linked to one another mechanically, or any equivalent. The second end 43 is merely an opening.

The sleeve 41 makes it possible to manufacture the envelopes 21, 31 in one piece. Here, the first envelope 21 and second envelope 31 are coextensive. This simplifies the manufacture by reducing the number of components and the time required for implementation.

The association of the yarns used to make the sleeve 41, and therefore the envelopes 21, 31, is presented with reference to FIGS. 5 and 6. Generally speaking, the yarns are provided to be linked to one another mechanically and, for example, are associated with one another using any suitable textile technique, such as knitting, weaving, braiding, or the like. In the case of knitting, it is possible to use a single- or double-knit circular knitting machine, a cylinder knitting machine, or a flat knitting machine. Two knitting zones may be joined to one another using the intarsia knitting technique or embroidery. Various decorative patterns can be obtained directly when knitting with the intarsia method, embroidery, the Jacquard knitting technique, or the like. FIG. 5 shows a conventional weaving with first yarns 44 oriented along a first direction, second yarns 45 oriented along a second direction, the first 44 and second 45 yarns intersecting to form a flexible mesh. FIG. 6 shows knitting with three yarns 45, 47, 48 arranged in interpenetrating loops. However, a number of other arrangements are possible.

The sleeve 41 is manufactured, for example, with a flat knitting machine, which makes it possible to vary the cross section, that is to say, the diameter of the sleeve, to make shape variations for the heel, to create openings for passage of the laces, to vary the thickness of the wall of the sleeve, or in particular to vary the tightening of the loops. In fact, the flat knitting machine provides a wide range of adjustment possibilities, and it is adapted to make sleeves of all sizes, whether in diameter or in length. As such, the flat knitting machine is more practical than the circular knitting machine. Indeed, the circular knitting machine works on a reduced range in the area of the sleeve diameter. It is therefore necessary to use a plurality of different circular knitting machines to make a complete line of sleeves 41, that is to say, a complete line of shoes encompassing all shoe sizes, where a single flat knitting machine would be sufficient. In the end, a flat knitting machine makes it possible to make one or more three-dimensional envelopes, with all desired features, and to the desired shoe size.

A yarn within the context of the invention will next be defined.

First, the yarn may be a monofilament obtained, for example, by extruding a hot-melt synthetic material, such as polyamide, polyurethane, polyethylene, or any equivalent or similar material. The production of a filament is continuous, in a way comparable to silk filament produced by a spider. The filament may be mono-component or mono-material, in the sense that its transverse cross section is uniform. But the filament may also be multi-component, e.g., bi-component. In this latter case, a transverse cross section of a filament shows a core comprised of a first material, and a peripheral envelope surrounding the core, such envelope being comprised of a second material. Each material may be hot-melt, or only one material may be hot-melt. If both materials are hot-melt, their melting temperatures are different.

Next, the yarn may be multi-filament. In this case, it is obtained by associating a plurality of filaments. Such an association is schematically shown in FIG. 7. Here, all of the filaments 49 are of the same type, in the sense that each has the same melting point. But combinations of filaments of different types can be provided, some of which may be meltable and others may not, or may have different melting points. The filaments are associated with one another by any known technique.

Furthermore, the yarn may be obtained in the form of a fiber mesh. Here, a fiber is a filament of limited length. The fibers are associated in tight contact to form the mesh, by any known technique, and especially by twisting. Fibers, especially natural fibers such as cotton, are traditionally kept together by friction. However, for the invention, the fibers are kept together either by friction or a combination of friction and melt-adhesion, or yet entirely by adhesion, because the invention uses hot-melt materials.

Having generally presented the structure of the sleeve 41, its use for the manufacture of the shoe 1 can now be explained below. However, to remain in the context of the first embodiment, it is useful to first explain that the article of footwear 1, or shoe, includes a reinforcement 51. It is shown more clearly below that this reinforcement is associated with the envelopes 21, 31 by nesting at the time of manufacture of the shoe 1, in order to provide the latter with specific capabilities.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 8, the reinforcement 51 is a component extending lengthwise from a rear end 54 to a front end 55, widthwise between a lateral side 56 and a medial side 57, and heightwise from a bottom 58 to a top end 59. The reinforcement 51 has a length and a width similar to the lengths and widths of the envelopes 21, 31. More specifically, the reinforcement 51, in relation to the first envelope 21, extends lengthwise from the rear end 24 to the front end 25, widthwise between the lateral side 26 and the medial side 27, and heightwise from the bottom 28 to the top end 29. By definition, this makes it possible to reinforce the first envelope 21, and therefore the article of footwear 1, in particular in the area of the bottom 12 and at the periphery of the bottom.

In a non-limiting fashion, the reinforcement 51 carries a tightening device 61. The tightening device, for example, includes keepers 62 located in the area of the top end 59, as well as a lace 63 and a blocking device 64, known to one with ordinary skill in the art. It is therefore possible to tighten or loosen the reinforcement 51 and, thereby, to tighten or loosen the shoe 1, as will be more apparent below. By keeper 62 is meant any device enabling a lace to pass or slide therethrough. The blocking device is optional and can simply be replaced by a knot of the lace.

More specifically, with respect to the first embodiment, the reinforcement 51 comprises a bottom 58, at least one lateral arm 65 extending from the bottom to a free end 66 in a direction away from the bottom, the free end 66 having a keeper 62, at least one medial arm 67 extending from the bottom to a free end 68 in a direction away from the bottom, the free end 68 having a keeper 62, and at least one lace 63 extending through the keepers. In a non-limiting manner, the reinforcement 51 comprises four lateral arms 65 and four medial arms 67. However, these respective numbers may be different. It also appears that each arm 65, 67 has a keeper, produced by any technique known to one with ordinary skill in the art. Finally, the reinforcement associated with the tightening device enables uniform tightening of the envelopes 21, 31, and therefore of the foot.

In particular, in order to optimize the comfort of the article of footwear 1, as is understood with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the lateral arm 65 and medial arm 67 are at least partially arranged between the first envelope 21 and second envelope 31, and the keepers 62 are arranged outside of the first envelope 21 and also outside of the second envelope 31.

According to the invention, as is understood with reference to all FIGS. 1 to 10, the article of footwear comprises an intermediate component 71 deformable elastically and reversibly in the area of at least one subdivision, the intermediate component 71 being arranged between the first envelope 21 and the second envelope 31. As has generally been shown, this enables two subdivisions of the envelopes 21, 31, which are opposite one another, to come relatively closer together, even if they are locally separated by the intermediate component. The intermediate component compresses in proportion to forces associated with the use of the article, and then restores its initial thickness when the forces disappear. In doing so, the intermediate component absorbs a portion of the compressive energy applied thereto, and also diffuses a portion of this energy in directions other than a direction perpendicular thereto. This reduces the specific pressure in the area of the envelopes, for greater comfort.

With respect to the first embodiment of the invention, the intermediate component 71 has an elongated shape and is adapted to extend beneath the tightening/lacing system so as to protect the instep of the user, and it therefore defines a tongue. The tongue 71 is located in the area of the top ends 29, 39 of the first 21 and second 31 envelopes, the tongue 71 extending lengthwise from a rear end 74 to a front end 75, widthwise between a lateral side 76 and a medial side 77, and depthwise between a bottom 78 and a top 79. This aims to improve the comfort of the article of footwear in the area of the top ends of the envelopes. For the user, it is the top of the foot, that is to say, the instep and/or the flexion fold, which is better protected.

In the example, the rear end 74 of the tongue is wider, which more or less provides a T-shape. The tongue could also have a uniform rectangular shape, the main thing being that it extends beneath the lacing and reconciles functional aspects and lightness, as well as aesthetic aspects, as the case may be.

The tongue could also have other functions than those described, and which, for example, may be only aesthetic. The tongue may also be provided to extend only under the lacing portion (out of the keeper), which still makes it possible to protect the instep.

As understood in particular with reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, the rear end 74 of the tongue 71 is, in the example, affixed to the first envelope 21 and/or to the second envelope 31, a substantial portion of the remainder of the tongue being detached from the first envelope 21 and/or the second envelope 31. As a result, the rear end 74 of the tongue is immobilized with respect to at least one envelope, and the remainder, namely the central portion and the front end 75, can slide in relation to the envelopes. This facilitates longitudinal flexing of the article of footwear, for better foot rolling movement. In addition, the rear end is affixed by any suitable means, such as gluing, or any equivalent or complementary technique. It may be affixed in any other manner.

In one embodiment, the rear end 74 of the tongue is affixed to the two envelopes 21, 31, thereby also making it possible to obtain an excellent finish for the aesthetic aspect.

FIGS. 1 and 2 show that at least one keeper 62 is positioned above the tongue 71. In fact, according to the first embodiment, but in a non-limiting manner, all of the keepers are positioned above the tongue. This optimizes comfort. Indeed, all of the keepers 62 press on the foot through the tongue during tightening action by the device 61 provided for this purpose. Of course, the tightening system can also be obtained differently, for example with eyelets.

To fulfill its role under the best conditions, the tongue 71 comprises a layer of elastically deformable synthetic material. This layer may be an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, a polyurethane foam, a polyethylene foam, or any other material capable of fulfilling the same function. The tongue may comprise a plurality of portions, for example a plurality of layers, suitably arranged in relation to one another, and may also comprise natural materials such as cork or any equivalent.

Still in a non-limiting manner, according to one embodiment, at least one of the first 21 and second 31 envelopes has folds 81, 82, 83, 84 in the area of the lateral side 76 and/or in the area of the medial side 77 of the tongue 71. More precisely, the first envelope 21 here has a lateral fold 81 and a medial fold 82, and the second envelope 31 also has a lateral fold 83 and a medial fold 84. These folds allow for variations in the fitting volume of the article, as they enable the envelopes 21, 31 to have variable geometries. In other words, the folds make it easier to put on and remove the shoe, but disappear once the foot is in the shoe.

The use of the sleeve 41 for the manufacture of the shoe 1 can now be described with reference to FIGS. 9 and 10. In fact, the components of the shoe 1 are assembled by hand, without a complex and expensive machine, as was the case for the prior art.

It is understood from FIGS. 9 and 10 that the sleeve 41 is fitted onto an element 86 referred to as a last, shaped to emulate the foot of a user. The sleeve is applied to the last 86 in the manner of a sock on a foot. The sleeve 41 conforms to the shape of the last 86 due to its elasticity, which is inherent in its textile structure. Then, the reinforcement 51 is nested on the subdivision of the sleeve 41 which becomes the first envelope 21. Then, the subdivision of the sleeve 41 which becomes the second envelope 31 is folded over the reinforcement 51, thereby covering the latter and the subdivision assigned to the first envelope. This is sufficient to form the subassembly of the shoe 1 which envelopes the foot, a subassembly which ultimately includes the first envelope 21, the reinforcement 51, the second envelope 22, and the tongue 71. The second envelope 31 has openings 87 for passage of the free ends 66, 68 of the lateral 65 and medial 67 arms of the reinforcement 51. It then suffices to subject the subassembly to a higher temperature, using any suitable technique, to melt the hot-melt filaments of the envelopes only as appropriate, and thus to provide the shoe 1 with its geometry. After heating, the last 86 may be removed from the subassembly. The shoe 1 is then almost finished. It suffices, according to the first embodiment, to add an outer sole assembly 88 thereto.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the article of footwear 1, or shoe, comprises an outer sole assembly 88. This outer sole assembly is adapted to take support on the ground and, therefore, is structured to resist wear by friction and also to dampen impacts. It thus includes a wear layer 89 and a damping layer 90, for example. FIG. 2, which is a transverse cross section in the region of the shoe adapted to receive the arch of the foot, shows that the bottom 12 has a non-planar geometry, substantially identical to that of the aforementioned arch. The shoe 1 according to the invention, as mentioned above, is indeed capable of conforming to the shape of the foot. It is thus not necessary, although it may be useful, to add an inner sole to the shoe 1 to reproduce the arch of the foot, or the other aspects of the bottom of the foot. This therefore simplifies the shoe 1 according to the invention, compared to a prior art shoe. This also lightens the shoe 1 and thereby reduces the mechanical inertias. A resulting advantage is improved athletic performance. The shoe according to the invention is well suited, for example, to a long-distance runner.

FIG. 2 also shows that the reinforcement 51 is almost entirely located between the first envelope 21 and the second envelope 31.

Still with reference to FIG. 2, but also to FIG. 1, the first envelope 21 and second envelope 31 are shown to be continuous along a transverse cross section. These envelopes therefore extend continuously in the area of their respective top ends 29, 39, even if they have folds, and thus in the area of the top end 13 of the shoe. The envelopment of the foot is therefore complete and constant.

As understood from FIG. 1, but also from FIGS. 3 and 4, the boundary between the first envelope 21 and the second envelope 31 is a fold 93 demarcating a foot-insertion opening 94. The periphery of the foot-insertion opening 94 is therefore demarcated simply by folding the two envelopes 21, 31 on one another. This means that this periphery does not have stitching or an attached element, as in the prior art and, therefore, that the shoe 1 does not cause discomfort to the user, including in the area of the opening 94.

The other embodiments of the invention are briefly described below with reference to FIGS. 11 and 12. For reasons of convenience, mainly the differences from the first embodiment are identified. In addition, the same reference numerals are used for identical or similar elements seen in the first embodiments.

Thus, the second embodiment, according to FIG. 11, comprises an article of footwear or shoe 1 with a lateral side 6 and a medial side 7, and a bottom 12 and a top end 13. The first envelope 21, the second envelope 31, the reinforcement 51, the keepers 62, and the tongue 71 are also reprised.

What is specific to the second embodiment is that it comprises another intermediate component 101 arranged between the two envelopes 21, 31. This intermediate component 101 is a portion of a sole assembly 102, the sole assembly portion being located in the area of the bottoms 28, 38 of the first 21 and second 31 envelopes, the portion 101 of the sole assembly 102 extending lengthwise from a rear end 104 to a front end 105, widthwise between a lateral side 106 and a medial side 107, and depthwise between a bottom 108 and a top 109. The portion 101 enables a relative displacement of the portions of the envelopes that are opposite thereto. In this case, it is the entirety or subdivisions of the bottoms 28, 38 of the envelopes 21, 31. Because it is capable of compressing elastically and reversibly, the intermediate component enables the portions of the envelopes involved to come closer to one another, for example during particular biases, and then to return to their natural spacing distance. This distance corresponds to the thickness of the intermediate component. This aims to obtain better damping of the impacts or forces in the area of the sole of the foot. A resulting advantage, for example, is better preservation of the joints of the user.

In a non-limiting manner, according to the second embodiment of the invention, the intermediate component, namely the portion 101 of the sole assembly 102, extends opposite the entirety of the bottoms 28, 38 of the first 21 and second 31 envelopes. This makes it possible to obtain a damping effect in the area of the entire bottom 12 of the article of footwear.

The intermediate component 101, added as described in connection to the tongue 71, is for example affixed to the first envelope 21 and/or to the second envelope 31. It is affixed by any suitable means, such as gluing, or any equivalent or complementary technique. This optimizes cooperation between the bottoms 28, 38 of the envelopes 21, 31, in terms of a more precise transmission of the forces or of sensory information. However, one may alternatively provide to arrange the intermediate component without affixation to the bottoms.

To fulfill its role under the best conditions, the intermediate component 101 comprises a layer of elastically deformable synthetic material. This layer may be an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, a polyurethane foam, a polyethylene foam, or any other material capable of fulfilling the same function. The intermediate component or portion 101 may comprise a plurality of portions, for example a plurality of layers, suitably arranged in relation to one another, and may also comprise natural materials such as cork or any equivalent.

In addition, the article of footwear 1 comprises a wear layer 111, and at least one intermediate layer 112 located between the wear layer 111 and the bottoms 28, 38 of the envelopes 21, 31, the wear layer 111 and the intermediate layer 112 forming an outer sole assembly. This allows for a certain level of damping directly in the area of the wear layer.

The third embodiment of the invention, according to FIG. 12, also reprises an article of footwear or shoe 1, with a lateral side 6 and a medial side 7, and a bottom 12 and a top end 13. The first envelope 21, the second envelope 31, the reinforcement 51, the keepers 62, and the tongue 71 are also reprised. Similar to what has been shown for the second embodiment, the article according to the third embodiment comprises another intermediate component 121 between the two envelopes 21, 31. This intermediate component 121 is a portion of a sole assembly 122, the sole assembly portion being located in the area of the bottoms 28, 38 of the first 21 and second 31 envelopes, the portion 121 of the sole assembly 122 extending lengthwise from a rear end 124 to a front end 125, widthwise between a lateral side 126 and a medial side 127, and depthwise between a bottom 128 and a top 129. The portion 121 enables a relative displacement of the portions of the envelopes that are opposite thereto. In this case, it is the entirety or subdivisions of the bottoms 28, 38 of the envelopes 21, 31. Because it is capable of compressing elastically and reversibly, the intermediate component enables the portions of the envelopes involved to come closer to one another, for example during particular stresses, and then to return to their natural spacing distance. This distance corresponds to the thickness of the intermediate component. This aims to obtain better damping of the impacts or forces in the area of the sole of the foot. A resulting advantage, for example, is better preservation of the joints of the user.

In a non-limiting manner, according to this third embodiment of the invention, the intermediate component, namely the portion 121 of the sole assembly 122, extends opposite the entirety of the bottoms 28, 38 of the first 21 and second 31 envelopes. This makes it possible to obtain a damping effect in the area of the entire bottom 12 of the article of footwear.

The intermediate component 121 is for example affixed to the first envelope 21 and/or to the second envelope 31. It is affixed by any suitable means such as gluing, or any equivalent or complementary technique. This optimizes cooperation between the bottoms 28, 38 of the envelopes 21, 31, in terms of a more precise transmission of the forces or sensory information. However, one may alternatively provide to arrange the intermediate component without affixation to the bottoms.

To fulfill its role under the best conditions, the intermediate component 121 comprises a layer of elastically deformable synthetic material. This layer may be an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, a polyurethane foam, a polyethylene foam, or any other material capable of fulfilling the same function. The intermediate component or portion 121 may comprise a plurality of portions, for example a plurality of layers, suitably arranged in relation to one another, and may also comprise natural materials such as cork or any equivalent.

What is specific to the third embodiment of the invention is that the article of footwear 1 comprises a wear layer 131 affixed directly to a bottom 38 of an envelope. In this case, it is the bottom 38 of the second envelope 31, that which demarcates the outside of the article of footwear. This architecture promotes a more direct transmission of the steering forces and sensory information.

In other words, the damping portion 121 of the sole assembly is completely integrated into the upper, which provides a particular aesthetic appearance to the shoe, only the outsole being visible. The aesthetic effect of a double-lasting type of construction, much more costly to implement, is therefore obtained with a very simple construction and a very advantageous manufacturing cost. It is also possible to combine the two embodiments of FIGS. 11 and 12, namely an intermediate component 101 arranged between the two envelopes 21, 31 or an envelope and the reinforcement 51 for the inner sole assembly, and an intermediate component 121 arranged between the two envelopes 21, 31, as shown in FIG. 12, for the outer sole assembly.

In both cases, the enveloping of the damping intermediate component 101, 121 of the sole assembly provides a much greater choice of material, as requirements, such as the abrasion resistance requirement, can then be ensured by the envelope(s) 21, 31. Moreover, because they are not visible and therefore not subject to aesthetic requirements, these intermediate components can be made by cutting rather than molding, thereby further reducing the manufacturing costs and further expanding the choice of materials usable for these intermediate components.

The invention is not limited to the embodiments described above and includes all technical equivalents that may fall within the scope of the claims which follow.

In particular, one may choose to add one or more intermediate components to another portion of the article of footwear, for example towards the front to form a protective toe-cap, towards the rear to provide additional support to the heel, or in the area of a side to protect the ankle.

One may also choose to add one or more envelopes to the article of footwear 1.