NIKE: THE GOLD STANDARD IN SNEAKER FASHION
BILL BOWERMAN AND PHILIP H. KNIGHT: THE STORY BEHIND NIKE'S SUCCESS
When we mention Nike, we immediately think of a strong and dedicated brand, and most notably, a logo that stands out among thousands. In 1964, with the sportswear and sports equipment market predominantly dominated by German companies, Americans William J. Bill Bowerman and Philip H. Knight joined forces to establish a sports brand capable of rivaling numerous European competitors. Initially named Blue Ribbon Sports, the brand was founded by Philip Knight, an accountant and long-distance runner, and Bill Bowerman, coach of the Oregon track and field team, with the goal of creating a more affordable brand for athletes. Bowerman, in particular, acted as a technical advisor for the company, using his position as a coach to test products directly with athletes. In 1965, they were joined by Jeff Johnson, a full-time salesman, who set the company's guiding principle that remains relevant today: being as close as possible to the athlete and their needs. He also came up with the name Nike, inspired by the goddess Nike, representing victory and determination.
ICONIC SWOOSH: NIKE SNEAKERS' DISTINCTIVE TRADEMARK
Nike is designed by athletes, for athletes. This unique approach sets the brand apart and propels it to the same level as its biggest competitors, like Adidas and Puma. Its classic Swoosh logo is regarded as one of the most striking and successful in marketing and communication. Interestingly, it was created by a graphic arts student, Carolyn Davidson, for the modest sum of $35. Today, it has generated billions for the company!
The brand, behind some of the greatest sneaker classics such as the Air Force, React Element, and Air Max, never ceases to reinvent itself for our enjoyment.
NIKE'S TOP COLLABORATIONS: MICHAEL JORDAN, TRAVIS SCOTT, OFF-WHITE, AND SACAI
Nike is undeniably one of the most popular and influential companies of our time. The Swoosh brand is now synonymous with creativity and performance, thanks to its influential and talented ambassadors. Among them, we can mention world-famous rapper Travis Scott, who has collaborated with the brand on several occasions, reimagining iconic models like the Nike Air Force 1 and the Air Jordan 1. Nike's strength lies in the diversity of its muses, representing all forms of art with designers like Jacquemus, Sacai, and luxury house Tiffany. Nike is more than just a sports goods provider; it's an entity that influences sports, sneaker culture, and luxury alike. Between the Nike by You customization program and the immersive Paris On Air experience, the American giant puts its customers at the core of its values. Nike was the first to venture into this territory and continues to innovate to remain an industry leader.
AIR JORDAN: HIS AIRNESS REVOLUTIONIZES THE SNEAKER WORLD
In 1985, Beaverton-based brand Nike decided to sign an exclusive contract with a young rookie from the University of North Carolina, Michael Jordan. This partnership would result in the largest collaboration between an athlete and a sports equipment manufacturer, the Air Jordan. To bring the collaboration to life, Nike's teams enlisted Peter Moore, an American footwear designer who created the Nike Dunk for the Be True to Your School pack, designed for the feet of players on top college basketball teams such as Iowa, Syracuse, and Kentucky. The Air Jordan 1 High and the Air Jordan 1 Low were born. They stood out from the Dunk with a taller, sharper silhouette, Wings logo, and a hidden air cap in the sole for unprecedented comfort and cushioning. The OG launch colors, such as the Chicago, Bred, and Neutral Grey, were immensely successful and are now coveted collector's items worldwide. The collection is characterized by the release rhythm of the models, with a new Air Jordan model unveiled at the beginning of each NBA season. In 1986, Nike enlisted Bruce Kilgore, creator of the iconic Nike Air Force 1, to design the Air Jordan 2. The second signature model is more luxurious, entirely crafted in Italy, and features premium leather. However, due to its high cost at the time, the model failed to find its audience and was deemed the least loved Jordan. This minor setback impacted Michael Jordan, who considered leaving Nike for another equipment manufacturer, but Beaverton's brand brought in Tinker Hatfield, the man who would forever change the company's image. Hatfield focused on meeting the requests of the Chicago Bulls player while aiming to provide a comfortable and high-quality design. This collaboration gave birth to the Air Jordan 3 in 1987, a groundbreaking aesthetic and technological revolution with its visible air bubble, like the Air Max 1, Elephant Print along the upper, and the creation of the Jumpman logo. Paired with Michael Jordan's exceptional on-court skills and his new title of All-Star Game MVP, the sneaker experienced tremendous success, convincing His Airness to stay with Nike. This marked the beginning of a long-lasting collaboration between Jordan and Hatfield. The partnership continued the following year with the Air Jordan 4. From the late '80s to the early 2000s, the player's signature silhouettes continued to captivate fans. Today, due to the retro trend, many shoes from the past have been revived, like the highly popular Air Jordan 1 Mid or collaborative designs with artists like Virgil Abloh for Off-White.
NIKE DUNK & DUNK LOW
In the early 1980s, the basketball shoe market was largely dominated by Adidas and Converse, with Adidas signing exclusive contracts with legendary players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Converse monopolizing the market with the All Star Chuck Taylor. In 1985, Nike, initially known for running models like the Waffle Trainer and Cortez, decided to tackle the basketball court. They enlisted Peter Moore, a footwear designer who created the Nike Dunk. Named after the spectacular basketball move, the Dunk was designed to support players from the greatest college basketball teams. Exclusive contracts were signed between the equipment manufacturer and universities such as Iowa, Syracuse, St. John, Kentucky, Georgetown, Michigan, and UNLV. The Be True To Your School pack featured seven pairs of Nike Dunk High. Over the years, the skateboarding community adopted the model, thanks to its flat sole, grippy outsole, and durable upper that made executing tricks easier. Its accessibility made it a must-have for all skateboarders. Launched a few years later, the Nike Dunk Low gained significant popularity in the early 2000s, thanks to the Nike SB editions in collaboration with Supreme and Jeff Staples. It wasn't until 2020 that the Dunk experienced a resurgence through popular and iconic entities such as Skate Like a Girl and artist Travis Scott.
In 1986, Tinker Hatfield, a recent architecture graduate from the University of Oregon, joined the Nike team to design new models. During a trip to Paris, Hatfield found inspiration for the silhouette that would revolutionize the industry: the Air Max. The George Pompidou Center's structure, color code, and transparent tube facade served as the primary inspirations for the legendary Air Max 1 OG White Red, released in 1987. It wasn't until 1990 that the range evolved with the iconic Air
Max 90 and its Infrared colorway. Today, both models are part of highly sought-after collaborations with stores like Patta or the Nike Off-White range.
Over the years, the Air Max line has continued to innovate and expand, with popular models like the Air Max 95, Air Max 97, and Air Max 270 joining the ranks. The Air Max series is celebrated annually on Air Max Day, March 26, with new releases, special editions, and collaborations that honor the legacy of this groundbreaking sneaker line.
Throughout its history, Nike has demonstrated its ability to stay ahead of the curve, offering athletes and sneaker enthusiasts cutting-edge designs, collaborations, and technologies. As a result, the brand continues to be a leading force in the sportswear, sneaker, and fashion industries, consistently pushing the boundaries of innovation and style.