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United States Patent Application 20190116932
Kind Code A1
Bell; Torrey J. ;   et al. April 25, 2019

ARTICLE OF FOOTWEAR WITH AN OUTER ELEMENT AND AN INNER ELEMENT

Abstract

In one aspect, the present disclosure relates to an article of footwear. The article of footwear may include an inner element, the inner element having an overfoot portion and an underfoot portion. The article of footwear may further include an outer element at least partially formed by a first knitted component, the outer element covering the throat area of the inner element. The article of footwear may further include a fastening element secured to the inner element in a throat area, where the fastening element is located between the inner element and the outer element, and where adjustment of the fastening element adjusts the fit of the inner element when the article of footwear is in use. The article of footwear may further include a sole structure, where the sole structure at least partially covers the underfoot portion of the inner element.


Inventors: Bell; Torrey J.; (Portland, OR) ; Grelewicz; David E.; (Tigard, OR)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

NIKE, Inc.

Beaverton

OR

US
Assignee: NIKE, Inc.
Beaverton
OR

Family ID: 1000002983765
Appl. No.: 15/789579
Filed: October 20, 2017


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A43B 1/04 20130101; A43B 23/025 20130101; A43C 11/12 20130101; A43B 3/0042 20130101; A43B 23/0205 20130101; A43B 23/027 20130101; D04B 9/42 20130101; A43B 5/001 20130101; A43B 5/02 20130101; A43B 5/0401 20130101; A43B 5/0482 20130101; A43B 5/06 20130101; A43B 5/10 20130101
International Class: A43B 23/02 20060101 A43B023/02; A43C 11/12 20060101 A43C011/12; A43B 3/00 20060101 A43B003/00; D04B 9/42 20060101 D04B009/42

Claims



1. An article of footwear, the article of footwear comprising: an inner element, the inner element having an overfoot portion and an underfoot portion, the overfoot portion having a throat area; an outer element at least partially formed by a first knitted component, the outer element covering the throat area of the inner element; a fastening system secured to the inner element in a throat area, wherein the fastening system is located between the inner element and the outer element, and wherein adjustment of the fastening system adjusts the fit of the inner element when the article of footwear is in use; and a sole structure, wherein the sole structure at least partially covers the underfoot portion of the inner element.

2. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the inner element includes a second knitted component with a circular-knit structure.

3. The article of footwear of claim 2, wherein a course of the circular-knit structure extends entirely around a perimeter of a forefoot area of the inner element.

4. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein a first zone of the first knitted component has a first elasticity, wherein a second zone of the first knitted component has a second elasticity, wherein the first elasticity is greater than the second elasticity, and wherein the first zone is located in the throat area of the article of footwear.

5. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the fastening system includes a cable secured to the inner element and a fastener that is slidable along the cable in an unlocked state.

6. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the underfoot portion of the inner element contacts a top surface of the sole structure.

7. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the inner element includes a plurality of openings for securing to the fastening system.

8. The article of footwear of claim 7, wherein the openings are knit-formed openings.

9. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the outer element extends from the throat area to a biteline of the article of footwear.

10. An article of footwear, the article of footwear comprising: a first knitted component defining an outer element, the outer element forming an outer surface of the article of footwear in a throat area, and the outer element extending from the throat area to a biteline of the article of footwear; a second knitted component defining an inner element, wherein the inner element includes a collar surrounding an ankle opening leading to a void of the article of footwear; and a fastening system located in the throat area between the first knitted component and the second knitted component.

11. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein a course of the second knitted component extends entirely around a perimeter in a forefoot area of the inner element.

12. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein a first zone of the first knitted component has a first elasticity, wherein a second zone of the first knitted component has a second elasticity, wherein the first elasticity is greater than the second elasticity, and wherein the first zone is located in the throat area of the article of footwear.

13. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein the fastening system includes a cable secured to the inner element and a fastener that is slidable along the cable in an unlocked state.

14. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein the second knitted component includes an overfoot portion and an underfoot portion.

15. The article of footwear of claim 14, wherein the underfoot portion of the second knitted component contacts a top surface of a sole structure.

16. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein the inner element includes a plurality of openings for securing to the fastening system.

17. The article of footwear of claim 16, wherein the openings are knit-formed openings.

18. The article of footwear of claim 10, wherein an average elasticity of the first knitted component is less than an average elasticity of the second knitted component.

19. A method comprising: knitting a first knitted component on a flat knitting machine, wherein the first knitted component forms an outer element of an article of footwear, the outer element defining an outer surface of the article of footwear; and knitting a second knitted component on a circular knitting machine, wherein the second knitted component forms an inner element of an article of footwear, the inner element defining a void of the article of footwear.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising: securing a fastening system to the second knitted component in a throat area, and covering the fastening system with the first knitted component.
Description



BACKGROUND

[0001] Conventional articles of footwear generally include two primary elements: an upper and a sole structure. The upper is generally secured to the sole structure and may form a void within the article of footwear for comfortably and securely receiving a foot. The sole structure is generally secured to a lower surface of the upper so as to be positioned between the upper and the ground. In some articles of athletic footwear, for example, the sole structure may include a midsole and an outsole. The midsole may be formed from a polymer foam material that attenuates ground reaction forces to lessen stresses upon the foot and leg during walking, running, and other ambulatory activities. The outsole may be secured to a lower surface of the midsole and may form a ground-engaging portion of the sole structure that is formed from a durable and wear-resistant material.

[0002] The upper of the article of footwear generally extends over the instep and toe areas of the foot, along the medial and lateral sides of the foot, and around the heel area of the foot and in some instances under the foot. Access to the void in the interior of the upper is generally provided by an ankle opening in and/or adjacent to a heel region of the footwear. A lacing system is often incorporated into the upper to adjust the fit of the upper, thereby facilitating entry and removal of the foot from the void within the upper. In addition, the upper may include a tongue that extends under the lacing system to enhance adjustability of the footwear, and the upper may incorporate other structures such as, for example, a heel counter to provide support and limit movement of the heel.

BRIEF SUMMARY

[0003] In one aspect, the present disclosure relates to an article of footwear. The article of footwear may include an inner element, the inner element having an overfoot portion and an underfoot portion. The article of footwear may further include an outer element at least partially formed by a first knitted component, the outer element covering the throat area of the inner element. The article of footwear may further include a fastening element secured to the inner element in a throat area, where the fastening element is located between the inner element and the outer element, and where adjustment of the fastening element adjusts the fit of the inner element when the article of footwear is in use. The article of footwear may further include a sole structure, where the sole structure at least partially covers the underfoot portion of the inner element.

[0004] In another aspect, the present disclosure related to another embodiment of an article of footwear. The article of footwear may include a first knitted component defining an outer element, the outer element forming an outer surface of the article of footwear in a throat area, and the first outer element extending from the throat area to a biteline of the article of footwear. The article of footwear may further include a second knitted component defining an inner element, where the inner element includes a collar surrounding an ankle opening leading to a void of the article of footwear. The article of footwear may further include a fastening element located in the throat area between the first knitted component and the second knitted component.

[0005] In another aspect, the present disclosure provides a method. The method may include knitting a first knitted component on a flat knitting machine, where the first knitted component forms an outer element of an article of footwear, the outer element defining an outer surface of the article of footwear. The method may further include knitting a second knitted component on a circular knitting machine, where the second knitted component forms an inner element of an article of footwear, the inner element defining the void of the article of footwear.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] The embodiments of the present disclosure may be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, with emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the present disclosure. Moreover, in the figures, like referenced numerals designate.

[0007] FIG. 1 is an illustration showing an article of footwear with an inner element and an outer element in accordance with certain aspects of the present disclosure.

[0008] FIG. 2 is an illustration showing a knitted component for forming an outer element of an upper in accordance with certain aspects of the present disclosure.

[0009] FIG. 3 is an illustration showing an exploded view of the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 1.

[0010] FIG. 4 is an illustration showing the article of footwear of FIG. 3 in an assembled state in accordance with certain aspects of the present disclosure.

[0011] FIG. 5 is an illustration showing an exploded view of another embodiment of an article of footwear with an outer element and an inner element in accordance with certain aspects of the present disclosure.

[0012] FIG. 6 is an illustration showing the article of footwear of FIG. 5 in an assembled state in accordance with certain aspects of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0013] Various aspects are described below with reference to the drawings in which like elements generally are identified by like numerals. The relationship and functioning of the various elements of the aspects may better be understood by reference to the following detailed description. However, aspects are not limited to those illustrated in the drawings or explicitly described below. It also should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily to scale, and in certain instances details may have been omitted that are not necessary for an understanding of aspects disclosed herein, such as conventional fabrication and assembly.

[0014] Certain aspects of the present disclosure relate to uppers configured for use in an article of footwear and/or other articles, such as articles of apparel. When referring to articles of footwear, the disclosure may describe basketball shoes, running shoes, biking shoes, cross-training shoes, football shoes, golf shoes, hiking shoes and boots, ski and snowboarding boots, soccer shoes, tennis shoes, and/or walking shoes, as well as footwear styles generally considered non-athletic, including but not limited to dress shoes, loafers, and sandals.

[0015] FIG. 1 is an illustration showing an article of footwear 100 having an upper 102, where the upper 102 includes two primary elements: an outer element 104 and an inner element 106. As described in more detail below, one or both of the inner element 106 and the outer element 104 may be formed as a textile. While non-textile materials are contemplated for either of these elements, the outer element 104 and the inner element 106 are described as being primarily formed with textile materials in this disclosure for simplicity of description. The textile(s) may be any suitable type of textile (e.g., a woven or non-woven textile), and in some embodiments the textile(s) may be formed as a knitted component through the mechanical manipulation of yarns.

[0016] As shown, the upper 102 may be secured to a sole structure 108. The area where the sole structure 108 joins the upper 102 may be referred to as a biteline 116. The upper 102 may be joined to the sole structure 108 in a fixed manner using any suitable technique, such as through the use of an adhesive, by sewing, etc. The sole structure 108 may define the bottom surface of a void 118 for receiving and accommodating a user's foot. The void 118 may be accessible through an ankle opening 120, which may be surrounded by a collar 122.

[0017] The upper 102 may include a lateral side 110 and a medial side 112. A throat area 114 may be included between the lateral side 110 and the medial side 112, and the throat area 114 may be positioned to cover the top (dorsal) surface of the foot during typical use. A midfoot area 124 of the upper 102 may be located between a heel area 126 and a toe area 128. The throat area 114 may be primarily located in the midfoot area 124. In some embodiments, an optional tongue may be disposed at least partially in the throat area 114. The tongue may be any type of tongue, such as a gusseted tongue or a burrito tongue. If a tongue is not included (or in combination with a tongue), the lateral and medial sides of the throat area 114 may be joined together.

[0018] As stated above, at least a portion of the upper 102 may be formed with a knitted component (or another suitable textile component). In the present embodiment, the outer element 104 is primarily formed of a first knitted component 130, and the inner element 106 is primarily formed of a second knitted component 132. Each of the knitted components 130, 132 may be formed as an integral one-piece element during a knitting process, such as a weft knitting process (e.g., with a flat knitting machine or circular knitting machine), a warp knitting process, or any other suitable knitting process. That is, the knitting process on the knitting machine may substantially form the knit structure of the knitted components without the need for significant post-knitting processes or steps. Alternatively, two or more portions of at least one of the knitted components 130, 132 may be formed separately as distinct integral one-piece elements and then the respective elements attached (e.g., via sewing).

[0019] Forming the outer element 104 and the inner element 106 with the respective knitted components 130, 132 may provide the outer element 104 and the inner element 106 with advantageous characteristics including, but not limited to, a particular degree of elasticity (for example, as expressed in terms of Young's modulus), breathability, bendability, strength, moisture absorption, weight, abrasion resistance, and/or a combination thereof. These characteristics may be accomplished by selecting a particular single layer or multi-layer knit structure (e.g., a ribbed knit structure, a single jersey knit structure, or a double jersey knit structure), by varying the size and tension of the knit structure, by using one or more yarns formed of a particular material (e.g., a polyester material, a relatively inelastic material, or a relatively elastic material such as spandex), by selecting yarns of a particular size (e.g., denier), and/or a combination thereof. The weight of the upper 102, and thus the overall weight of the article of footwear 100, may be reduced with respect to alternative components typically used in footwear. The knitted components 130, 132 (and particularly the first knitted component 130 of the exposed outer element 104) may also provide desirable aesthetic characteristics by incorporating yarns having different colors, textures or other visual properties arranged in a particular pattern. The yarns themselves and/or the knit structure formed by one or more of the yarns of the knitted components may be varied at different locations to provide different knit portions with different properties (e.g., a portion forming the throat area 114 of the first knitted component 130 may be relatively elastic while a portion forming the heel area 126 or another area may be relatively inelastic).

[0020] In some embodiments, the first knitted component 130 and/or the second knitted component 132 may incorporate one or more materials with properties that change in response to a stimulus (e.g., temperature, moisture, electrical current, magnetic field, or light). For example, as described in more detail below, the first knitted component 130 may include yarns formed of a thermoplastic polymer material (e.g., a polyurethane, polyamide, polyolefin, and/or nylon) that transitions from a solid state to a softened or liquid state when subjected to certain temperatures at or above its melting point and then transitions back to the solid state when cooled. The thermoplastic polymer material may provide the ability to heat and then cool a portion of the first knitted component 130 to thereby form an area of bonded or continuous material (herein referred to as a "fused area") that exhibits certain advantageous properties including a relatively high degree of rigidity, strength, and water resistance, for example. Similar materials and processes could be used when forming the second knitted component 132.

[0021] FIG. 2 is an illustration showing the first knitted component 130 (i.e., forming the outer element 104 of FIG. 1) as may appear after formation on a knitting machine, but before being folded or otherwise oriented into a wearable shape. To form the first knitted component 130 into a wearable shape, a lateral heel portion 136 and a medial heel portion 138 may be joined (e.g., via sewing), which may occur before, during, or after attachment of the first knitted component 130 with another component of the article of footwear (and potential with the assistance of a foot-shaped last). Other shapes of the first knitted component 130 are also completed. For example, in some embodiments, one of the lateral heel portion 136 and medial heel portion 138 may wrap all the way around the heel and join to another edge of the first knitted component 130 on the opposite respective side (e.g., the medial heel portion 138 may be absent, and the lateral heel portion 136 may wrap around and join on the medial side). Any other suitable shape and folding/shaping method may be used.

[0022] The first knitted component 130 may be formed as a continuous and integral one-piece element using any suitable knitting process. In certain non-limiting exemplary embodiments, the first knitted component 130 if formed using a flat-knitting process (e.g., through weft or warp knitting on a multi-bed flat knitting machine). In this disclosure, a knit structure formed on a flat knitting machine is referred to as a "flat-knit structure." One skilled in the art can typically detect a flat-knit structure upon examination of the structural characteristics of a sample.

[0023] In particular, it may be advantageous to form the first knitted component 130 on a flat knitting machine with two needle beds, thereby enhancing the capability of forming complex knit structures with desirable characteristics. For example, a two-bed flat knitting machine may be able to create a variety of double-jersey knit structures providing a variety of characteristics. Herein, a "double jersey knit structure" is defined generally as any knit structure formed on two needle beds and utilizing at least one needle from each bed, including (but not limited to) a full rib knit structure, a 1.times.1, 2.times.1, and 3.times.1 rib structure, an interlock knit structure, a half and full cardigan knit structure, a half and full milano structure, etc. In one exemplary embodiment, a double jersey full interlock structure may be used, which may provide the first knitted component 130 with a relatively low elasticity when compared to certain other knitted components, particularly when the first knitted component 130 is formed with yarns that are relatively rigid/inelastic.

[0024] Forming the first knitted component 130 on a two-bed flat knitting machine may also allow for the incorporation of certain features that are more difficult or impossible to achieve on other types of machines. For example, the first knitted component 130 may be formed with inlaid components, such as inlaid tensile strands for increasing rigidity as described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2015/0359290, U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2014/0237861, and U.S. Pat. No. 9,145,629, which are incorporated into the present application in their entirety. Additionally or alternatively, the flat knitting machine may provide the ability to form the first knitted component with a multi-layer knit structure such that an outer surface of the first knitted component 130 has different characteristics than its inner surface. One example is that the outer surface 140 of the first knitted component 130 may include a fused area formed by heat-processed yarns including at least one thermoplastic polymer material, such as thermoplastic polyurethane, while an inner surface is formed of a softer material (such as a polyester). Similar features and several related advantages are described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2017/0245582, which is incorporated into the present application in its entirety. Using a two-bed flatting knitting machine may also provide the ability to form the first knitted component 130 with complex visual patterns and other visual affects due to the types of double-jersey and other knit structures available, which is particularly desirable since the first knitted component 130 may form the outer, visible surface of the article of footwear.

[0025] In some embodiments, different zones of the first knitted component 130 may have different characteristics. The different characteristics may be provided by using different knit structures, different yarn types, by processing the zones differently after knitting (e.g., by heat processing some zones and not others), or a combination thereof. For example, a first zone 142 located in the throat area 114 and/or the collar 122 may be highly elastic due to the use of an elastic knit structure and/or the use of a relatively elastic yarn. Advantageously, the first knitted component 130 may be capable of stretching in a desirable manner around the top (dorsal) surface of the foot to provide a comfortable fit (and, as described below, such that it can stretch around a fastening system). Other zones may be formed to be less elastic. For example, a second zone 144 in the heel area 126 of the first knitted component 130 may have a relatively low elasticity to provide structural integrity in the heel area 126. Other areas, such a third zone 146 in the midfoot area 124, may have a different elasticity than that of the first zone 142 and/or the second zone 144. Relative elasticities of the zones (and also of different knitted components) may be determined by applying a known tensile force (e.g., on a tensometer) to the respective zones (or components) and then measuring the degree of stretch or displacement. For example, when one zone or component stretches twice as much under as another under the same tensile force (e.g., 20 pounds), it is said to have twice the elasticity.

[0026] The zones of the first knitted component 130 may also, or alternatively, vary in certain characteristics other than elasticity. In some embodiments, for example, certain zones may have different surface characteristics than other zones. Referring to FIG. 2, the third zone 146 in the midfoot area 124 may be formed with a material providing desirable grip/friction with a surface of a ball (e.g., a soccer ball). Such a surface may be provided by forming a fused area at the third zone 146. One example of a fused area for its desirable surface characteristics is described in U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 62/502,362, which is incorporated into this application in its entirety.

[0027] FIG. 3 is an illustration showing an exploded view of the article of footwear 100 depicted in FIG. 1. As shown, the outer element 104 has been folded into a wearable shape (e.g., by securing the medial heel portion 138 to the lateral heel portion 136 at a seam 148), but it is noted that the shaping procedure does not necessarily have to be completed prior to assembling the first knitted component 130 with the second knitted component 132. In some embodiments, the thread (or other object) used to form the seam 148 may additionally secure to the second knitted component 132 in the heel area 126, thus providing a point of connection between the first knitted component 130 and the second knitted component 132. Other connections between the first knitted component 130 and the second knitted component 132 are also contemplated, and in some embodiments, they may not be directly connected at all (e.g. where the first knitted component 130 and/or the second knitted component 132 is removable, or where they are indirectly connected through the sole structure 108, for example).

[0028] The first knitted component 130 and the second knitted component 132 may be formed separately using different knit processes. For example, the first knitted component 130 may be formed on a flat knitting machine (which is described in more detail above with reference to FIG. 2), while the second knitted component 132 may be formed on a circular knitting machine (as described in more detail below). Advantageously, and particularly when a relatively rigid double jersey structure is used to form the first knitted component 130, at least one area of the first knitted component 130 may be less elastic than an area of the second knitted component 132. Further, on average, the entirety of the first knitted component 130 may be less elastic than the entirety of the second knitted component 132 in at least one direction (and potentially all directions). This may be advantageous for providing an elastic and soft inner element 106 may be better suited for contact with a user's foot (e.g., due to comfort), while also providing a relatively rigid and protective outer element 104.

[0029] The second knitted component 132 may include an overfoot portion 150 and an underfoot portion 152. The underfoot portion 152 may be located on the bottom side of the second knitted component 132 (e.g., when the article of footwear 100 is placed on the ground in a typical orientation), and therefore the underfoot portion 152 may be associated with a plantar aspect of the foot (also known as the sole or bottom of the foot). In some embodiments, the underfoot portion 152 of the second knitted component 132 may contact the foot (or sock) of a wearer when the foot is placed in the void, and thus it is contemplated that the materials and knit structure used to form the underfoot portion 152 may be selected for softness, compliability, elasticity, and other characteristics associated with comfort. In other embodiments, a secondary element (such as a cushioning insert) may be placed on top of the underfoot portion 152. The second knitted component 132 may also include an overfoot portion 150 on its top side, where the overfoot portion 150 is associated with the dorsal surface of the foot (also known as the foot's top surface). Thus, a single course in the forefoot portion 153 of the second knitted component 132 may wrap completely around the perimeter of a user's forefoot.

[0030] The circular/tubular structure of the second knitted component 132 may be accomplished by knitting the second knitted component 132 using a circular knitting machine. A circular knitting machine may have a plurality of needles arranged in a circular pattern such that, as a yarn feeder moves around the circular pattern as it feeds yarn to the needless, the circular knitting machine forms a tubular structure having a perimeter surrounding a void (which may correspond with the void 118 surrounded by the second knitted component 132). Without limitation, specific examples of knitting processes that may be used on a circular knitting machine include wide tube circular knitting, narrow tube circular knitting, narrow tube circular knit jacquard, single knit circular knit jacquard, double knit circular knit jacquard, and the like. It is contemplated that certain circular-knitting machines may be able to form knit structures similar to the double-jersey structures described above, but not all circular knitting machines are capable of forming double-jersey structures. Herein, when a circular knitting machine is used to form a knit structure, that knit structure is referred to as a "circular-knit structure." A circular-knit structure can typically be recognized by one skilled in the art upon examination of the structure of the sample.

[0031] Any one of the above-described circular-processes (or other suitable circular-knit processes), or a combination of more than one, can be used to form the second knitted component 132. If the second knitted component 132 is initially formed as a tubular structure with two open ends, one end can be closed by forming a seam 148 (e.g., by sewing, using an adhesive, etc.). The other opening may be left open to form the ankle opening 120 to provide access to the void 118.

[0032] As shown in FIG. 3, the article of footwear 100 may include a fastening system 154 secured to the inner element 106. The fastening system 154 may be located in the throat area 114 of the inner element 106, as depicted. Any suitable type of fastening system may be used, such as the depicted lace 157 (i.e., a shoelace), a cable-tensioning system (shown in FIGS. 5-6), and/or any other suitable device. The fastening system 154 may be adjustable such that it pulls the inner element 106 around the foot when tightened, thus securing the foot in the void 118 and providing a comfortable fit.

[0033] The inner element 106 may include a set of openings 156 for receiving the fastening system, but other suitable element(s) may alternatively be used. The openings 156 may be formed through any suitable process. In some embodiments, a piece of the second knitted component 132 may be cut away, punched away, or otherwise removed to form the openings 156 after the knitting process. In other embodiments, the openings 156 may be formed by a particular knit structure of the second knitted component 132. For example, during a knitting process on a knitting machine with at least one needle bed, one or more of needles of the needle bed(s) may be skipped while forming certain courses such that a void is formed, and that void may eventually define the openings 156. Other suitable knit structures may additionally or alternatively be used to form the openings 156. When the openings 156 are formed by particular knit structures rather than by removing a portion of the second knitted component 132 through cutting, punching, or another method, the openings 156 are said to be "knit-formed" in this disclosure. While not shown, the outer element 104 may also have openings to provide a user with additional access to the fastening system 154.

[0034] Still referring to FIG. 3, the sole structure 108 may include an optional midsole 158 and an outsole 160, but any other sole structure is contemplated. The outer element 104 may secure to the sole structure at a biteline 116 through sewing, using an adhesive, or by any other suitable device or method. The inner element 106 may secure at the biteline 116 and/or the top surface 161 of the sole structure 108 (and it is noted that the top surface 161 does not have to be a top surface of a midsole 158, but could alternatively be a surface of another sole structure component). For example, in some embodiments, to achieve a high degree of direct contact and engagement, a substantial portion of the underfoot portion 152 may be adhered to the to surface 161 of the sole structure 108 using an adhesive. It other embodiments, it may be advantageous for at least one area of the underfoot portion 152 to remain free (e.g., movable) with respect to the top surface of the sole structure 108 to reduce friction between the sole structure 108 and the foot of user. While not shown, additional elements (e.g., cushioning elements) may be placed between the underfoot portion 152 and the sole structure 108, and/or between the overfoot portion 150 and the outer element 104.

[0035] FIG. 4 is an illustration showing the article of footwear 100 an assembled or wearable state. The outer element 104 is shown as transparent in FIG. 4 for purposes of illustration. As depicted, the outer element 104 may cover the fastening system 154. That is, the fastening system 154 may be between the outer element 104 and the inner element 106. Advantageously, the fastening system 154 may not interfere with or otherwise affect the characteristics of the outer surface 140 of the article of footwear 100. This may be particularly advantageous where the outer element 104 is given surface characteristics for a particular activity (e.g., for kicking a ball). For example, when the article of footwear 100 is a shoe designed for playing soccer, a user may advantageously have an outer surface 140 that has desirable characteristics for making contact with a soccer ball even at the throat area 114. Additionally or alternatively, the fastening system 154 may be protected by the outer element 104 to prevent an unintentional release (e.g., due to the loosening or releasing of a knot of a shoelace). This feature may make the present embodiments suitable for situations where retaining tightness and/or a proper fit is of high importance (e.g., when the article of footwear 100 is used in a manufacturing or construction environment).

[0036] FIG. 5 is an illustration showing an exploded view of another embodiment of an article of footwear 200. The article of footwear 200 is similar to the article of footwear 100 describe above, but the fastening system 254 is different. As shown, the fastening system 254 may be a cable tensioning system having a cable 262 (which may be any suitable elongated portion of material, and may be similar or identical to the lace 157 described above with reference to FIG. 3). The cable 262 may be deployed through the openings 256 of the inner element 206. When tightening the fastening system 254, the cable may be pulled tight, and a fastener 264 may be used to lock in the tension. The fastener 264 may have a button, switch, or other activator such that the user can select whether it's in a locked or unlocked state. To lock in the tension, the fastener may be moved towards the inner element 206 and then locked at a particular location relative to the cable 262 (e.g., such that it is fixed with respect to the cable 262 when locked). To loosen the fastening system 254, the fastener may be moved away from the inner element 206 along the cable 262.

[0037] This embodiment may be particularly advantageous because it does not require a lot of space (and thus it can fit easily between the outer element 204 and the inner element 206 without creating too much bulk), and because it is relatively easy to adjust (thus decreasing the impact of interference during fastening due to hand-contact with the outer element 204). For example, one of the user's hands could be used to pull away on outer element 204 to create space, and the other of the user's hands could reach into the space to adjust the fastening system 254. Other suitable fastening systems are also contemplated.

[0038] FIG. 6 is an illustration showing the article of footwear 200 of FIG. 5 in an assembled or wearable state. As shown, the fastening system 254 may be fully or substantially covered. The fastening system 254 is depicted as extending beyond the outer element 204, but in other embodiments, the cable 262 may be too short to extend that far. As explained above, the outer element 204 may have different zones with different characteristics. Focusing on the first zone 242, it may be advantageous for the first zone 242 to have a relatively high elasticity (at least when compared to other zones of the outer element 204) to enhance a user's access to the fastening system 254. For example, the first zone 242 (which may be in the throat area 214) may be deformed when a user pulls on a tongue portion 266 to separate the outer element 204 from the inner element 206, thus providing room or space for operating the fastening system 254.

[0039] All of the structures and methods disclosed and claimed herein can be made and executed without undue experimentation in light of the present disclosure. While this disclosure may be embodied in many different forms, there are described in detail herein specific aspects of the disclosure. The present disclosure is an exemplification of the principles of the disclosure and is not intended to limit the disclosure to the particular aspects illustrated. In addition, unless expressly stated to the contrary, use of the term "a" is intended to include "at least one" or "one or more." For example, "a yarn" is intended to include "at least one yarn" or "one or more yarns."

[0040] Any ranges given either in absolute terms or in approximate terms are intended to encompass both, and any definitions used herein are intended to be clarifying and not limiting. Notwithstanding that the numerical ranges and parameters setting forth the broad scope of the disclosure are approximations, the numerical values set forth in the specific examples are reported as precisely as possible. Any numerical value, however, inherently contains certain errors necessarily resulting from the standard deviation found in their respective testing measurements. Moreover, all ranges disclosed herein are to be understood to encompass any and all subranges (including all fractional and whole values) subsumed therein.

[0041] Furthermore, the disclosure encompasses any and all possible combinations of some or all of the various aspects described herein. It should also be understood that various changes and modifications to the aspects described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.

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