History of On Running & On Cloud Shoes

History of On Running & On Cloud Shoes

On Cloud shoes continue to grow in popularity — and for good reason. Here’s a look at the history of On running shoes and the retired athlete who started it all in the Swiss Alps.

The Origins of On (Running)

Have you ever dreamed of running on clouds? Olivier Bernhard did. And that’s what led to the creation of the Swiss performance running shoes and clothing company, On. 

Bernhard never set out to create the next great running shoe but an all-new feeling of running. Because his background was in athletics — not shoe design — his prototype was unappealing, with pieces of a garden hose glued to the outsole of a normal sneaker. But again, it wasn’t the look that mattered — just the feeling of running on air. 

Together, they formed the Swiss company ‘On Holding AG’ in 2010. 

In just over a decade, On has exploded and reached global popularity. It even ranked as the fastest-growing athletic shoe brand in the U.S. While we can attribute some of this success to On’s global vision from conception, the real cause of the sudden popularity is the shoe’s comfort and quality.

On Running Shoes Focused on Performance and Design

Bernhard was really able to create the experience of running on clouds thanks to the innovative CloudTec® cushioning system inspired by the original glued-on garden hose pieces. The system now has a series of horizontal hollowed tubes (or “clouds”) that offer stability each time the foot hits the ground. They absorb the impact and then tighten to help push the foot off the ground. 

On’s Focus on Sustainability

One of On’s core pillars is sustainability — and not just sustainable production, but sustainability in all aspects. 

On uses fossil-free materials that have a low impact on the environment. For example, the new Cloudsurfer shoe has 85% recycled polyester, 30% overall recycled material, plus recycled yarn for embroideries. And the newest CleanCloud™ EVA foam for outsoles was made with captured carbon emissions.

Aside from the materials, the company focuses on creating circular systems to reuse and recycle products. 

On Cloud Shoes

On Cloud refers to a whole collection of shoes with the CloudTec® system. If you want a pair of On Cloud shoes, here are a few of our favorites. 

On Cloudnova

On released the Cloudnova during the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020. While that may seem counterintuitive, it was actually a booming success. Co-founder Allemann said they wanted to create a multifunctional shoe that could fit any occasion, especially since there were no longer divisions between work and personal lives. 

People were working from home in comfort wear, so the times called for a shoe that doubled as a running and everyday shoe. And that’s how the Cloudnova was born. 

Complete with the CloudTec® system and the Speedboard® midsole, the Cloudnova offers superior cushioning for improved performance. It comes in sleek black or white colorways. Or, if you want a splash of color, you can find a pair with a bright accent on the CloudTec® sole. 

On Cloudmonster

What do you get when you cross a purple monster with the comfort and stability of an On running shoe? The Cloudmonster, of course. This bold shoe with an exaggerated CloudTec® sole offers maximum cushioning — and a bit of height. While it was originally released in a dark purple color, you can find it in several different colorways, from all black to white and bright orange

It was first released in 2022, making this a fairly recent model perfect for everything from road running to long-distance treks. 

On Cloud 5

Featuring On’s CloudTec® technology, the On Cloud 5 provides the signature look and comfortable feel On has come to be known for. Combine this with the Zero-gravity foam midsole and the Speedboard®, and you have the perfect lifestyle shoe that excels as a comfy, everyday, versatile choice.

An engineered mesh upper keeps the airflow moving and accommodates different foot shapes more comfortably. Tying and untying laces is a thing of the past with the On Cloud 5 thanks to the Speed-Lacing system, which are bungee laces held over the eyelets of the shoe with a knot.

On Cloudswift 

On is about to release its third generation of Cloudswift shoes. The first pair came out in 2019 and was On’s way of debuting its Helio™ super foam. 

The Cloudswift is a light shoe with superior traction, making it the perfect urban running shoe. The “clouds” on the sole are very pronounced and look like a series of bubbles on the bottom of the shoe. The Cloudswift comes in subtle colorways, like gray and lavender or white and light green

On Cloud X 3 

A lot of athletic shoes have claimed to be able to do it all over the years, but the On Cloud X 3 is the real deal when it comes to versatility. Whether you’re focusing on cross-training, strength training or short runs, the On Cloud X 3 has you covered.

On’s signature CloudTec® system provides lightweight cushioning and energy return. They also feature On’s Speedboard® technology, providing a firm but comfortable ride. A three-layer engineered mesh upper provides breathability and support in a lightweight and comfortable package, and a unique star lacing system secures the fit while reducing pressure on the forefoot.

On The Roger 

Roger Federer is a tennis legend who loves wearing On shoes. But Roger became more than an On fan. In 2019, he partnered with On Running, which led to a design collaboration. 

Together, they released The Roger in 2021, the company’s first pro-tennis shoe. It looks quite different from other On shoes since it’s missing the large hollowed tubes of the CloudTec® sole. But that doesn’t mean The Roger lacks the technology. Instead, it’s hidden in the sole, along with the iconic Speedboard®. 

On Shoes & Apparel in Pop Culture

On shoes are all about creating a whole new running experience, making them a perfect fit for athletes. However, the brand has become popular with a much broader fan base

The minimalistic design and fresh, cool colorways have caught the eye of influencers and celebrities alike. People just can’t get enough of the superior support. And the focus on sustainability is just another selling point.

Put all these features together, and it’s a no-brainer why On has become so popular with everyone, from athletes to your favorite influencer.

Ready to feel what it’s like to run On Clouds?

Cop a pair of On running shoes today at JD Sports and experience what it’s like to walk on clouds. 




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