Colourway Corral: Safari
As you may or may not know, Nike’s revered Safari print has quite the origin story. It starts back in the mid 1980s when Tinker Hatfield was roaming the streets of NYC with a dream to take athletic shoes to luxurious new heights and happened upon an ostrich-skin swathed couch in a window display. Its buttery bumps were just the spark of inspiration that the Nike designer needed – and the rest is history.
Having debuted on 1987’s Air Safari, the Safari print has become a staple scheme in the Swoosh canon, and is employed in a rainbow of hues. We’re keeping things classic though, and limiting our round-up to the warm oranges and tans the speckles are most known for. Grab your binoculars, get in the truck, and let’s go on safari!
Air Safari (1987)
We might as well as start at the beginning, right? The Air Safari was the first outing for Hatfield’s new print, releasing as part of the revolutionary Air pack alongside the Air Max 1, Air Trainer 1, and Air Sock.
The Air Safari may not have rewritten sneaker history like its visible Air sibling, but it’s a bona fide icon nonetheless. And it still expels a mighty roar.
size? Exclusive Air Max 1 and Air Max 95 (2018)
If the Air Safari was the original, size?’s 2018 dimpled duo is perhaps the most Safari-y Safari release. Not only were both the Air Max 1 and Air Max 95 wrapped in the popular print, they went one step further in the tribute by sporting the OG black, grey and ‘Monarch’ colour scheme. It was a one-two punch from the UK retailer, but we’d be lying if we said that the 1 didn’t hit different.
Air Max 1 Supreme 'Keep Rippin Stop Slippin' (2008)
The Air Safari is a certified classic, but the Air Max 1 just has something about it. Here’s a thought, let’s dress up the AM1 like the Safari. Hell, let’s even throw in some pony hair for good measure. And, to really gild the lily, let’s add some insane outsole graphics. Nice.
Air Max 95 'Keep Rippin Stop Slippin' (2018)
If you were late (very late), to the Air Max 1 version, Nike did you a solid by bringing out a AM95 under the same name in 2018. The pony hair was missing from this drop, but the orange was turned up, shining brighter on the toe guard and lining. They kept some of the special details though: the ‘Keep Rippin Stop Slippin’ graphic peeks behind the translucent outsole.
Air Zoom Talaria (2016)
It was a Tinker-on-Tinker affair when the Air Zoom Talaria copped its own Safari edition back in 2016.
The 1997 Hatfield design – one of the first Swoosh sneakers to employ Zoom Air – was at home swathed in speckles, and its mesh didn’t look too shabby in blazing orange either. Extra points for the eye-searing fade on the outsole… Just because it looks sick.
Air Max 90 (2020)
The Air Max 90 is the latest model to be given a pop of the pebbly print. Like previous entries on this list, the 90 twists the OG Safari’s colour combo, leaning heavily on a foundation of black leather – both smooth and perforated – with the namesake motif, orange and white offering support where needed. Extra kudos to these for also carrying the Safari onto the laces.
Nike SB GTS Return (2020)
What are you going to do if you want to board in some Safari? Certainly not grind in your size? AM1s. Earlier this year, Nike SB ensured that you wouldn’t have to even entertain the thought, because they dropped the GTS Return in a full-on Safari suit. The sleek skater was primed to shred with a hardy leather upper and cupsole – a combo guaranteed to last the distance.
atmos x Nike Air Max 1 (2003)
Fifteen years after the Air Max 1 and Air Safari debuted, atmos’ first Nike link-up brought them together in arguably the most-coveted Safari of all-time.
While it embraced the warm tones of the OG colourway, it tweaked them to deliver a wearable tan and brown combo – itself launching a new scheme to come under the Safari umbrella.
Nike SB Dunk Low (2020)
Just as atmos’ Max brought together two famed shoes, Nike SB’s early 2020 release coupled the collaborative release with the shoe of the year.
Air Presto (2016)
Hot damn, this is one fresh Presto. Dropping in 2016, the bespeckled bangers went big with the print, nodding to the celebrated AM1 in the jade tongue badge, and brown and tan cage. But can we talk about those laces! Don’t ask me how they did it, but somehow the Swoosh made an earthy brown tone look... eye-searing? An awesome final touch.
atmos x Nike LeBron 16 Low (2019)
atmos themselves returned to their beloved collaborative joint in 2019, this time plying the LeBron 16 Low with the familiar warm hues of ‘Safari’.
For when you want to go WILD on court.