Nike’s 2020 Highlight Reel
2020 saw Nike continue to cement their position as the world’s biggest sneaker brand. Even without the grand stage of the Summer Games for the Swoosh to spruik their latest and greatest performance tech, plenty of innovation still rolled out. Elsewhere, retros ruled the roost across all sneaker genres, and a concerted effort was made to offset the impact of footwear manufacturing. Amongst all of that action, Nike also found the time to protect their most valuable asset.
Move over Air Jordan 1 – the Nike Dunk is here to stay (for now). It didn’t take long for Dunkmania to take a hold of hypebeasts and old ‘heads alike, with an initial slew of retro colourways being relatively easy purchases, before demand outstripped supply seemingly overnight. Numerous high-profile collaborations with big names including Cactus Plant Flea Market, Slam Jam, Kasina and, of course, Travis Scott, made the Dunk Nike’s hot ticket sneaker of 2020. And it looks like there’ll be even more colourways in 2021. Check out a recap of every Dunk colourway that released in 2020 here.
Nike’s ecological concept dates back to at least the early-1990s, when the company encouraged customers to return worn-out sneakers that would be reused and recycled, instead of going to landfill. In 2020, Space Hippie became the latest evolution of Nike’s Move to Zero program, with products made under the initiative comprised of at least 85 per cent recycled material sourced from waste. It’s the most sophisticated sustainability offering yet from the Swoosh, especially considering repurposed performance tech like ZoomX Eco. Expect to see more Space Hippie shoes in 2021.
Getting Retros Right
To Nike’s credit, the retro department at Beaverton listened to their long-suffering fans and re-examined their archive more closely. So, the Air Max 90 (now known as Air Max III) 30th anniversary retro was one of the most accurate yet, with extra attention paid to panel proportions and colourway hues. The Air Presto’s 20th celebrations were better than its last reissue, mostly because it reverted to its OG t-shirt sizing. If Nike approach their upcoming retros (such as the rumoured Air Max BW in 2021) with the same level of care, there’ll be some more very happy sneakerheads.
The retro sneaker market may be more or less held down by Nike, but on the performance side, it’s a technological arms race between brands big and small. On the running track, the NEXT% series seriously pushed the envelope across multiple disciplines, with models like the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% and Tempo NEXT% helping chase mere seconds – which can make all the difference between gold and silver. On the fashion front, Nike’s 2020 ISPA (Improvise. Scavenge. Protect. Adapt.) series squeezed all new-gen Swoosh tech into futuristic designs such as the very unconventional Road Warrior.
Nike are naturally protective of their iconic trademarks – e.g. the Swoosh symbol. So, when a renegade creative by the name of Warren Lotas decided to pay 'tribute' to the Dunk and slap on a Jason-esque hockey mask donning Swoosh, the lawyers at Beaverton were less than impressed. Throw Jeff Staple into the mix, and things got quite messy. As they say, mess with the bulls and you get the horns… The lawsuit is now reportedly over after Warren settled with Nike. The Swoosh is safe – for now.
Recap how your favourite brands went with the other Highlight Reels in our Features section here.