Retro Runner Rehab: The Nike Air Zoom Moire +
‘The First Shoe To Talk To iPod’. That’s how Nike announced the Air Zoom Moire +. Now, given that this was only back in 2006, we know those of you who own kicks now old enough to drink will be quick to dispute the Air Zoom Moire’s claim on ‘retro’ classification. But let’s face it: a decade is a long time in fashion, let alone technologically driven fashion. Back in 2006 apple didn’t have the iPhone and Jay Z still had his hyphen – which is to say, it was practically forever ago.
What apple did have was the iPod. With the MP3 market only just finding its footing, and the benefits of Steve Jobs’ ‘1000 songs in your pocket’ pitch were clear. People were now able to run while listening to music without holding a discus-shaped device, and with music and exercise entwining themselves tighter and tighter Nike and apple saw fit to link up also. Their union bore Nike Air Zoom Moire +.
The Moire’s compelling ability to ‘speak’ to an iPod was facilitated by a sensor and receiver. The sensor was embedded in the shoe’s sole, and the receiver would plug into your iPod. With the Nike Air Zoom Moire + you were, for the first time, able to track how fast you were running without using a $400 Garmin. Real-time information showed on the iPod or was relayed through the headphones. You could also do things like play your ‘power song’ to psych yourself up, and plug the receiver into your Mac to collate data and track performance.
At a time when your phone can manage all this by itself, this method seems a bit convoluted. But when the easiest prior option was hopping onto MapMyRun and plotting out your run in 200m increments – this was groundbreaking.
At the time Wired saw it as a way to give squares (people who exercise) some ‘nerd appeal’, going on say that the partnership would definitely be beneficial to apple – they’d sell more iPods – but not for Nike because after all ‘How many pairs of sneakers do you need?’
Misjudgment of sneaker culture aside, Wired weren’t entirely wrong about the unbalanced benefits. The Moire may have been the first shoe to link with your iPod, but the release of a Nike + iPod Sport Kit meant that you could skimp and wire any shoe with an auxiliary device for cheap. On top of that, Nike would also begin selling iPods but apple wouldn’t sell the shoes. These conditions dampened the Moire’s potential. Though the Moire doesn’t deserve a retro because it was a landslide success, but because it should have been.
As well as ushering in what is arguably the world’s most popular running technology, the Air Zoom Moire was also the first ‘Moire’ shoe in the Nike catalogue. Plenty don’t even know this today, but Moire simply refers to the one-piece, heavily perforated upper. The design returned in early 2015 and now continues the Air Zoom Moire +’s legacy with heavy use on Air Maxs.
All things considered, few running shoes can claim to have been as influential as the Nike Air Zoom Moire. It enabled the future of running tech, brought together two of the world’s most forward-thinking brands and pioneered a construction that would prove to be wildly successful a decade after its inception. With such a storied pedigree, we say it’s not a case of if Nike will bring back the Air Zoom Moire +, but when.
Retro Runner Rehab is a column where we bungee into the world of bygone running shoes, scoop up our favourites and throw them back in the spotlight.