Wriggle the Nike Air Rift’s Tabi ToesRelease: 7 May 2021
Despite its unconventional appearance and cult following, the Nike Air Rift occasionally gets lost in the limelight of retro releases. This is perhaps because it originally existed during the extremely prolific period that was the mid 1990s, when the Swoosh put out so many memorable designs. However, its steadfast presence in the contemporary assortment, plus the aforementioned underground following, particularly in Japan, keeps the… rift… between the mainstream market and the Air Rift under control. Two clean colourways have just hit the Far East, right on time for the warmer weather.
The history of the Air Rift has been documented in detail here, alongside an extended exultation of the design, but here is the condensed version. Named after the Great Rift Valley that runs through Kenya, the Air Rift was one of Nike’s precursor designs in the quest to create running shoes that simulated a barefoot feel, aka Nike Free. This step was achieved in 1995 by adding a split to the big toe, much like Japanese tabi footwear. Over time, enlightened types came to love the Air Rift’s instant comfort and eccentric aesthetics. As such, it’s remained in the Nike retro offering, but in typically limited numbers, keeping it in line with its niche status.
The Nike Air Rift in breezy black and white mesh is now available from Japanese retailer atmos, and there is a chance pairs will also make it abroad.