‘70s Throwback in New Shoes
How Nike Revamps Previous Designs with Modern Twists
Just as pop culture has begun to take great influence from years past, the shoe and clothing climates have as well. Movies and television shows such as Stranger Things and IT have been extremely popular for bringing out nostalgiia, and fashion manufacturers such as Adidas and Nike believe they can cash in on the retro hype. Adidas has rereleased popular tennis shoes such as the Stan Smith and Superstar, while modern Nike production runs have mainly focused on keeping the Jordan brand alive. Today, Nike holds a great reputation as basketball sporting goods giant, signing the top stars; legends, such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, to active idols like Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. But before the famous Nike Jordan series of basketball shoes enthralled shoe enthusiasts, Nike was well known for producing running shoes.
These classics, particularly models from the 1970s, have been the focus of Nike’s reproduction runs. The Air Tailwind was a revolutionary marathon shoe, the first to feature Nike’s famous Air cushioning technology. After successful first runs, it was brought back to store shelves recently. Many colorways sold out quickly after launch – the fastest to do so were the collaboration models with retro-themed TV show Stranger Things.
This collaboration extends to other Nike classics. The Cortez was Nike’s first track shoe, an astounding success after the 1972 Olympics, and has received the “Upside Down” distressing treatment as a reference to the alternate dimension depicted in Stranger Things. In the show, the world is paralleled by this dark and foggy dimension, where human-eating monsters roam. It is only fitting for the Nike design to be a normal sail outer layer that reveals fringed dark wash denim underneath if torn.
This interesting design is available on the Air Tailwind, and also on the Nike Blazer, one of the company’s first basketball shoes. This shoe ended up launching George “The Iceman” Gervin into dunks and launching the new footwear company into commercial success. Just as the other shoes have been rereleased, Nike Blazer gets the same treatment so even today we can experience the styles and relive the hype from the 1970s.
Nike’s extensive use of collaborations also shows with Sacai, who brings bright and complex styles to the table, and reminisces of yesteryears. Sacai has modified the Blazer to result in a rugged and eye-catching product. One look at this patchworked mid-top and you’ll need to do a double take at the overlaid swooshes and duplicated stitching and other elements. Feet will be secured by a two tongues and two laces per shoe. This motif also appears in the Nike x Sacai LDWaffle shoes. These pay a massive homage to the Waffle trainers that influenced the growth of grippy-soled shoes. The originals were so significant in running culture that one of the original twelve made from an actual waffle iron sold for $437,500.
The ability of these shoes to sell out almost instantly and to be put up on the secondhand market for more than retail prices shows that these classic designs haven’t ever left our style – they were just gone for a few decades.