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Clear Kicks: A Brief History of See-Through Sneakers

Comme des Garcons Nike Dunk High

The recent release of the Supreme x Nike Air Max 96 featuring translucent panelling has spurred fond memories of the multiple times the sneaker industry tried – to varying degrees of success – to make see-through uppers a thing. Perhaps it was voyeuristic curiosity, or maybe it was experimenting for the sake of experimenting, but it’s pretty clear that this translucent trend has repeatedly tried to take off. Here’s a look back down memory lane at some of the times sneakers went see-through.

Nike LDV Prototype (Late 1970s-Early 1980s)

Contrary to popular belief, and sneaker media reportage, the practice of see-through sneakers actually dates as far back as the late 1970s. One of Nike’s early successes, the LDV (Long Distance Vector) was prototyped in clear plastic, and used to study the foot in motion. It’d be pretty amazing to see the video footage that Nike recorded, but these crazy kicks are enough proof that clear sneakers weren’t born just yesterday.

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