Back in the 1960s, the Space Race was in full effect as the USA
and the Soviets competed to put a man on the moon. Zvyozdochka
was a dog (named by Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin) that was
rocketed into space in 1961, making one orbit aboard a Sputnik
spaceship before returning safely to his kennel in Moscow.
The link between Zvezdochka and a rubber Nike with holes like
Swiss cheese is tenuous, but it is an enigmatic entree to a
remarkable piece of manufacturing. Outsourced by Nike to the
acclaimed Australian industrial designer Marc Newson, the result
of this collaboration was a one-piece rubber cage with a removable
inner bootie construction. Newson apparently worked at the
Russian Space Institute where he was inspired by the special
boots worn by astronauts, hence the origin of the name. The
utilitarian functionality does seem like something Ripley might
have worn aboard the Nostromo – if she wasn’t wearing Reebok
Alien Stompers that is!
Were Nike looking for a commercial hit that sold in the millions
or for an inscrutable objet d’art? Either way, they certainly got a
heap of the latter – a laceless wonder that was simply too
bananas for even fashion-forward futurists. Years later we’ve
never seen a single pair on anyone’s feet, but a quick check on
eBay revealed several pairs available from $350 to $500, so I
guess you can say Newson more than maintained his knack of
creating collectable industrial design.
Marc Newson found fame as a young student via his Lockheed
Lounge, an amazing alloy couch that he handmade in the 1980s.
How amazing? It last sold in 2009 for £1,100,000.
Check out our next feature: 2011 - BEST OF THE BEST SNEAKERS