Picture this: It’s a Saturday night and everyone’s headed to the bowling alley. The year? Nope, not 1955 — it’s present day. Because even though it may not top the charts as a date night activity, bowling is still a $10 billion industry, with 67 million people who bowl at least once a year, according to Bowlers Journal.
And while the number of people in bowling leagues has been on the decline, as reported by a 2017 trend report by bowling equipment manufacturer Murrey International, it’s being replaced by individuals who prefer participating in the sport on a more casual basis. These new bowlers are college-educated, fall in the upper middle class and expect higher levels of customer service, wider food options and a modern bowling center atmosphere. With more disposable income, they’re also more likely to consider buying their own pair of bowling shoes rather than renting a pair. Surprisingly, bowling shoes can be quite affordable, with many priced under $50. But of course the cost depends on the styling: The more bells and whistles there are, the more expensive the shoes are.
One company in particular is on a mission to raise the fashion bar when it comes to bowling shoes. Bowlero, the world’s largest operator of bowling centers, has launched a national contest, #BeBowled: Shoe Design Challenge, an open call to all up-and-coming shoe designers and bowling fanatics to reinvent the traditional look. The contest is open now, with the winning designer to see his or her shoe professionally produced and distributed to nearly 100 Bowlero and Bowlmor locations nationwide. Contestants can submit their designs by April 16 at DesignBowlingShoes.com. In late April, five finalists will be announced, and in late June, they will be flown to New York to see their designs live during a fashion show set on the lanes of Bowlmor’s Times Square flagship location. The winner will also receive a cash prize of $2,500.
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According to Colie Edison, chief customer officer of Bowlero, “bowling has always been one of America’s greatest pastimes. In 2017, Bowlero had over 28 million bowlers roll in.” The centers cater to casual weekend enthusiasts, young adults, families with children, and seasoned league bowlers with amenities such as plush lane-side lounge seating, high-definition video walls and state-of-the-art arcades.
For those who can’t wait for the winning shoe, we’ve found five fashionable alternatives to the classic bowling shoe.
1. Pyramid Men’s Skull Shoe
The must-have motif is taking over bowling lanes with this comfort-driven version featuring a microfiber outsole.
2. Dexter Women’s Katie Blue Floral
A fun take on the classic canvas sneaker features side vents for breathability and a removable cushioned footbed.
3. Brunswick Aura Purple Pink Women’s Bowling Shoe
Inspired by the athleisure trend, this mesh version on a lightweight bottom pops with color.
4. Dexter Women’s Ana Bowling Shoe
This mad-for-plaid style is a nod to British dressing, bringing a touch of elegance to the bowling experience.
5. Storm Istas Multicolor Bowling Shoe
This women’s geometric patterned style takes its cue from the athletic market with its removable EVA footbed and lightweight fabric upper.
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