The 50 Greatest Sneaker Collaborations in Nike History
Nike x ESPO Air Force II Low
It took a lot of persuasion for Nike to let Stephen “ESPO” Powers produce the company’s first shoe. The street artist said: “Nike is in the performance business, and his concept of an invisible all-plastic sneaker doesn’t quite fit that. “I directed it back to their comfort zone by saying it was going to be a performance shoe, but it would work like art. Even then, Powers remembers, Nike’s first draft was just a piece of plastic. “I said, ‘Come on. If Jellies can do it, why can’t Nike? ‘” Finally, Powers and Nike came up with a design that balances large transparent panels with original ESPO artwork, and comes with a special pair of socks to boot. Proud of its finished product, Powers admits Nike may be right about performance. “Within two blocks, the plastic cut my leg,” he said. “Those shoes were back in the box and I never wore them again.”
Nike x Union Air Force 180
Union’s takes on the 180th Air Force — designed by Chris Gibbs, an influential store manager at the time in LA (and current owner) — like a chronograph of the golden age of streetwear . “I just got on the boat from NYC and am passionate about ’90s basketball, so I look to 180 because it’s a great representation of an era that I love so much,” Gibbs said. “Streetwear is a rebellion against the fashion industry in general, which is usually only used by blacks and marines, so I wanted the color to contrast with that. I took the camo from my favorite coat and changed the colors around to be more playful. It was probably inspired by Bape, who did a lot of that at the time. “
Nike SB x Staple NYC Dunk Low Pro “Pigeon”
When Nike SB tapped Jeff Staple to design a New York-inspired Dunk, he considered all the obvious references. “We were thinking about the Statue of Liberty,” Staple said. “A Dunk subway train. A Dunk taxi. In the end, we decided that the pigeon was the unofficial mascot of New York City. Not everyone gets it, but those who live and breathe here will.” Not only did they get it – they wanted it madly. Staple’s release of Dunks, used in feather-gray lawsuits with an embroidered dove along the heel, sparked a riot outside his Reed Space store on the Lower East Side. . For much of mainstream America, these shoes were seen as their introduction to the rising hysteria of sneaker culture. “SNEAKER FRENZY”, the front page of the famous New York Post was read the next morning. “RUCKUS RUCKUS HOT SHOES.”
Nike SB Zoom Air Paul Rodriguez 1
Paul Rodriguez Jr grew up obsessed with Nike, but when Swoosh first approached the rising skater about a potential sponsorship, he balked. “Originally, Nike didn’t plan to make skate-specific shoes, and that was a breakthrough for me,” says Rodriguez. Finally, the brand changed its tune and granted P-Rod its first SB pro model — a retro-style low-top hat with a quilted leather heel and full Zoom Air cushioning. “I’m only happy that my teenage years have stood firm and been consistent with my dreams.”
Nike x Stash Air Max 95
The Graffiti Stash legend was one of Nike’s first and most important non-athlete collaborators, paving the way for peers like Futura to join the Swoosh soon after. He introduced his trademark sky blue color scheme on an Air Classic BW in 2003, but the color hit the water mark 3 years later when Stash applied it as a gradient to the cascading stripes. on the Air Max 95. The 95 is a favorite, Stash says, “because look how it came out. One of the best shoes ever made to this day. You don’t have to touch it. It’s one of those ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ models. “
Nike x CLOT Air Max 1 Kiss of Death
The mission of Hong Kong streetwear brand CLOT is to bridge the gap between East and West through thoughtfully designed products. And the Kiss of Death Air Max 1 – the first in a long series of Nike collaborations – was a huge success there. Inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, the transparent toe box (as you can see the tips of your toes when wearing them) shows acupuncture charts on the insole, while the outsole is printed with Outline the pressure points of the foot.
Nike x Bobbito Garcia Air Force 1 Low Premium ’07
Few Nike collaborators earn their own shoes more than Bobbito Garcia, New York streetball folk hero, DJ, documentarian, author, and OG curator of sneakerhead culture. His Air Force 1 is blessed with a beautiful combination of suede, leather and mesh along with a nod to Garcia’s passion for vinyl records and basketball.
Nike SB x Dinosaur Jr. Dunk High Pro
The leader of Dinosaur Jr. J Mascis’s Dunk High Pro is the epitome of a simple idea perfectly executed. “I wanted it to look like Ace Frehley’s silver podium space shoes from Kiss,” he said. Complete mission. Covered in shimmering metallic silver with bright purple accents, and the band’s logo and mascot stamped on the sides, this shoe has become an instant go-to goblet for Mascis fans. beyond his usual listeners. “People would come and talk to me about sneakers and not know I was in a band,” he said.
Nike Air Max LeBron VII
“You never really know when it’s ready until you test it yourself in the lab,” says LeBron James of his signature sneakers. This makes sense when you consider all it takes to keep up with the greatest player of his generation. Nike’s Tony Bignell said: “The hard part with LeBron is that he’s superhuman. “He was so strong that everything was harder, tighter, harder, more solid. How do you make something work for him — and also work for the kids playing in those shoes? “