December 24, 2016

2016 Highlight Reel: Nike

Nike did exactly what we expected them to do this year, coming through with countless covetable drops, innovations and fresh perspectives. With this being an Olympic year there was an onslaught of new tech throughout the industry but when it came to the crunch 70 percent of gold medals in track and field were won wearing Nike – you can’t argue with that. It’s tough to sum up 365 days of action from a sporting and lifestyle behemoth like Nike, but we’ve broken down a few of the big topics this year to let the highlights shine. Let’s start off the recap with a look back to the future of footwear.

Adaptive Lacing

We’ve been waiting on this one since the 80s, when Marty McFly stepped on screen wearing the auto lacing Air Mag. Tinker Hatfield and Mark Parker had envisioned the Mag as the shoe of 2015, so it was a little late. Nevertheless, the grail shoe went crazy when the charity auction sales went live – with prices hitting six-figures around the world.

Beyond the futuristic vision, the crew at Nike implemented the same tech into the Hyperadapt 1.0 – the first ever self-lacing shoe designed specifically for athletes. We’re not sure exactly how many joggers out there are stepping into them now that they’re all sold out, but we’re guessing there are more on the display shelf than there are on the pavement.

Air Max

The annual Air Max update came correct with the release of the Air Max 2017 in November, but there were plenty of other models demanding our attention – the retro catalogue was off its chops’. We saw the OG AM 96 colourways (pity about those bubbles) as well as the AM 97 ‘Silver Bullet’, which surprised a few heads by dropping in advance of its 20th anniversary next year. The Air Max 1 got its own Flyknit remix, while Nike’s holy trinity revived some old-world aesthetic in the sleek HTM Air Max LD Zero. We’re still losing sleep over the Air Max 98 collaboration with Supreme, perhaps not everyone’s idea of a banger but the snakeskin just got us. We won’t be too upset to see the clock tick over to 2017 though, after the announcement of the upcoming VaporMax, we’ve been itching to get our hands on the next step on Air.

Basketball

The parquet floors have been pounded with some heavy Nike drops this season. The Hyperdunk 2016 was the shoe of choice over in Rio, while signatory athletes saw new editions, such as the Kyrie 2, KD9, and LeBron Soldier 10 – each as individual as the players that rocked them. Kobe’s retirement prompted a flow of special releases, followed by the new Kobe AD, his inaugural retirement model.

There was some movement on the retro front too. The original Hyperdunk from 2008 got us ready for the update, while Air More Uptempos were in huge demand and the Ultramarine Air Force 180 made plenty of dusty old sneakerheads smile – unfortunately the equally 90s looking CB34 didn’t cause quite such a fuss. Firing up the foam factory, Nike have been teasing us with a re-release of the OG Foamposite One colourways, but to tide us over we got a reboot of the Dr. Doom Foamposite Pro in November.

Air Force 1

The AF1 is the reliable warhorse of the sneaker world. It was always going to come back around again and this year was the year. Earlier on the Flyknit versions took centre stage, but then ComplexCon came and things went nuts. The SF AF1 went to a new level, while some cutting edge colabs saw Nike partner with it-brands like Anti Social Social Club, Off-White and VLONE. For anyone out there who not keeping up with the hype, Nike treated us to a re-release of the ‘Linen’ colourway as well as the LA and NYC lows.

Flyknit

On top of dropping the knit onto some previously non-knitted silhouettes, the Innovation Kitchen has been hard at work re-defining the possibilities of Flyknit. Designers are now able to engineer the shoes in even more minute detail than before, as well as stop water from penetrating the yarns. The Lunarepic Flyknit took inspiration from football boots, like the Magista, and utilised the new tech to create a whole new concept in running. The Free RN Motion, Zoom Superfly Flyknit and Hyperdunk 2016 all made crazy use of newly engineered knit patterns.

Offroaders

The winter warriors and the trek-leisure fanatics were in the crosshairs this year as Nike produced some seriously rugged gear. There were a few retro ACG models that hit the spot, as well as some more modern styles, looking like prototypes for a mission to Mars – the Air Zoom Tallac came in both an OG colour retro and a crazy new Flyknit version. One of our favourites, the Air Zoom Albis, had a bit of a facelift, let’s hope Santa has a few still sitting around. The Lava Dome bubbled up from its archival stagnation, a trail runner that predates ACG by almost ten years. Popular models were reinvigorated for life outdoors, Air Max 95 Sneakerboot and Presto Utility for example, while the hefty Lunar Force 1 Boot has been hitting hard.

Colabs

Upon reflection, Nike didn’t go too hard on the colabs this year, but the ones they did were straight up fire. The Concepts Free Trainer was a good start, while Fragment had some special plans for the Air Max LD Zero. Roundel remixed the Spiridon with a typographic twist but the all over graphic prize has to go to Skate Mental for their pepperoni Janoski. Riccardo Tisci’s Air Zoom Legend and Acronym’s Air Presto collection took things to a whole new level, but the one colab we haven’t stopped thinking about is the Kim Jones revival of the 90s Air Zoom LWP. With Nike having already announced a 2017 Comme Des Garçons VaporMax, expect the heat to keep on rolling.

Nike SB

The shred collection was on board for a big one this year, with a few notable highlights. The Koston 3 Hyperfeel came right out of left field, with a crazy sock design it wasn’t like any SB model we’d ever seen. The Janoski was on overdrive but the real stand outs would have to be the Quartersnacks Bruin and the Call me 917 Blazer. Speaking of Blazers, the Supreme collection seems to have blown over with minimal bogo hype, much to our surprise. Perhaps the most nostalgic SB releases this year were the OG Box colourways, as well as the ‘Sea Crystal’ Dunk, we’re sure plenty of the old lads out there are happy with those.

Big year, right? And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. On top of all that there were new models like the LunarCharge and Roshe Two; tech updates like dual layered soles and adaptive, liquid repellent polymers; and plenty of low-key drops and sporting innovations. Whatever Nike are planning next, bring it on, we can’t wait.

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