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Five Memorable Nike Shoeboxes from the 90s to Now

Date: July 17 2019

By: Minh Vuong

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Sometimes the packaging is as exciting as the product inside it, and that’s certainly no different with sneakers. Shoeboxes don’t have to be some sort of extravagant, quarantine-breaching wooden carton, nor an over-engineered flight case situation to be interesting. Nike, in particular, have used rather memorable cardboard shoeboxes over the past 45+ years. Here’s five of them:

AF1-XXX (2012)

Marking the 30th anniversary of the Nike Air Force 1, the Swoosh had to celebrate in style, especially after 2007’s XXV collection. Commemorating this milestone was a slew of AF-1 releases that came packaged in a grid-patterned box with ‘AF1-XXX’ in large red text. The grid pattern is a nod to the swing tags packaged with the original 80s run of the Air Force 1. Unlike the usual hinged box design of regular releases, the XXX boxes are a fancy affair, with a slide-out drawer and large metal eyelet in the middle of the label face. The Year of the Dragon releases had an extra detail of a dragon illustration on the box.

Nike iD (Mid 2000s)

Nike’s personalisation program has actually been around since 1999, but it wasn’t prominent until the 2000s came around. This example is from 2005, with a long and low shoebox. It’s black on the outside, with an orange slide-out drawer and eyelet in the top right corner. Surrounding the drawer edge is a gloss black margin. A subtle, yet classy dark gold ‘NIKE iD’ logo is found on the bottom left corner to the drawer’s adjacent sides, matching the gold side opposite the drawer side. More recent Nike iD boxes are just plain black with minimal white branding and, in comparison to the packaging seen above, a bit boring.

Nike 90S Box
Nike 90S Box Text

Early 1990s to 2000

The early 90s to early 00s saw some radical changes to the Nike shoebox. For collectors and enthusiasts of a certain age, this style of box evokes the warmest memories of golden age sneaker collecting. Black base, hinged lid with red trim, and brown top. The left adjacent side to the label reads ‘Engineered and built to the exact specifications of championship athletes around the world’. Remember, Sportswear wasn’t a separate line yet, so performance and retro models were all in the same box. A couple of shoes used this box in 2000, but nothing beyond that as we saw…

Late 1990s to Mid 2000s

The classic two-toned brown and orange Nike shoebox. So many legendary sneakers from the early- and mid-2000s were packaged in this ubiquitous box. Perhaps what makes this box so well recognised is the imbalanced colour-blocking. Rather than a perfect 50:50 split, the ratio of orange to brown is approximately 60:40, with a thin grey strip splitting the two colours. Some time around 2003-2004, the box label changed slightly in font and size. A number of releases in the early 2000s utilised a narrow and long two-tone box. How chunkier sneakers like AM90s and AF-1s fit in there, forever remains a mystery. We saw this box up until around 2006.

Nike LIVESTRONG (2008-2013)

Say what you will about Lance Armstrong, but for a while he was on top of the cycling world. His LIVESTRONG partnership with Nike started in 2004, and spawned a collection of black and yellow apparel, accessories (who can forget the yellow wristbands?) and footwear. This box is from 2009 and is adorned with the charity foundation’s livery and a blown-up image of the wristband. Needless to say, there hasn’t been a Nike LIVESTRONG collection for a number of years now due to his infamous doping confession on Oprah. The last official Nike LIVESTRONG collection was Holiday 2013.

Stay tuned as we dig out more boxes in our cage. There’s plenty more where that came from…

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