Nike Sneakers for Men
Waffles and Nike apparently go hand-in-hand. As Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman searched for new technology to help runners go faster, his waffle iron inspired him — resulting in the outsole mold for an early Nike creation, the Waffle Runner. But the Waffle Runner was hardly the first step in Nike's journey to the top of the worldwide athletic footwear market.
Nike: The Story Behind the Swoosh
Bowerman, a legendary University of Oregon track and field coach, partnered with Oregon student and runner Phil Knight to form Blue Ribbon Sports in January 1964. The company distributed running shoes for Onitsuka Tiger, the Japanese company now known as Asics. But as Bowerman and Knight continued to work in the shoe space, they decided they wanted to craft their own designs instead of sending ideas to Japan and formed their own company in 1971. That company was named Nike.
The Nike Cortez and the Waffle Runner were the company's first running styles, featuring new technologies that focused on outsole grip. However, Nike wasn't just about running. The first shoe to actually hold the famed Swoosh logo was a soccer cleat dubbed The Nike. Within the first few years, Nike was creating basketball and tennis shoes. Throughout the 1970s, Nike expanded ferociously into a host of major sports. Within a decade, Nike had half of the market share in the United States athletic shoes category, setting the company on a continual rise in the 1980s into additional sports and global markets.
As Nike expanded its reach, it added more technology. Nike patented "Air" technology for its cushioning system, first debuting in the Tailwind running shoe in 1979 before moving into additional sports, including basketball and tennis. The signing of Michael Jordan in 1984 led to the Air Jordan series and, eventually, an entire Jordan Brand company based around the superstar.
Nike continued to grow, reaching virtually every sport. Nike kept a strong presence in global soccer, became the official uniform supplier of the NBA, NFL and MLB and the leading sponsor of tennis players worldwide, all while staying focused on running and athletic performance.
Nike in Popular Culture
Nike is as much about marketing as it is about creating. The "Just Do It" campaign kicked off in 1988 and featured an 80-year-old runner crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, setting in motion one of the most famous marketing efforts in the sports world.
Nike doesn't shy away from big-time athlete endorsements. The first Nike athlete signed to a sponsorship agreement was Romanian tennis player Ilie Năstase in 1972. Nike then joined forces with some of the world's top athletes over the next few decades — including Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi and a complete bounty of talent in basketball, first with Michael Jordan and later with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Collectibility and Value of Nike
The Nike Dunk lines dominate the value roster on the resale market, but the most expensive Nike you'll find is a Nike MAG Back to the Future made in 2016 (H015-MNOTHR-402). This special-edition creation of what was originally a futuristic self-lacing shoe can resell for upwards of $40,000. That said, the Nike Dunk SB Low Paris (308270-111), a limited run from 2002, isn't far behind with an average resale of over $30,000. Other highly sought-after Nike Dunks include a Freddy Krueger (313170-202) version, an NYC Pigeon (883232-008), Yellow Lobster (313170-137566) and a London edition (308269-111).
The priciest Jordan model is a Jordan 4 Retro Travis Scott Purple Friends and Family (766296-LN4) valued at over $20,000. A NikeCraft Mars Yard Shoe 1.0 Tom Sachs Space Camp (519329-160) from 2012 has an average value of around $11,000.
Nike Runs the Gamut Across All Sports and Lifestyles
Nike may have started in the running arena, but it also made a name for itself in tennis and basketball. The key styles over the 50-plus-year run of Nike show off that heritage.
- The Nike Cortez was an important early creation from Nike. While it was a technical innovation at the time, the Cortez turned into a lifestyle model that gives Nike a nostalgic silhouette for modern times.
- The Nike Blazer was one of Nike's original basketball shoes — the Nike Bruin was the first — and it's held a strong place in modern lifestyle collaborations.
- The Air Force 1 is arguably the most famous non-Jordan basketball sneaker ever produced. The 1982 creation of the on-court model was an incredibly popular shoe for both performance and lifestyle. The Air Force 1 never lost its dominance and has a roughly 40-year history of being on-trend on the streets.
- The Nike Dunk may have started as a basketball shoe, but skateboarding culture quickly usurped the style, helping lead to an entirely new division within Nike that focused on skateboarding culture. The Nike SB Dunk has longevity and cultural importance that continues to this day.
- The Air Max line takes Nike's running heritage and gives it lifestyle crossover akin to basketball culture. From the Air Max 1 to the Air Max 90, 95 and 97, the Air Max style has remained constant while continually taking on the culture of the day.
Notable Nike Collaborations
While Nike designers themselves became household names for sneaker fans — Tinker Hatfield has designed some of the most well-known Nike and Jordan silhouettes — the brand isn't a stranger to key collaborations, especially during the modern era. Nike continually rolls out new partners — including Virgil Abloh, Kanye West (pre-adidas), Travis Scott, Cactus Plant Flea Market and Tom Sachs — while offering up a robust list of in-house talent.