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BEHIND THE DESIGN

AIR HUARACHE
The Nike Air Huarache debuted in 1991 with a minimal yet polarizing design. Its comfort was undeniable, thanks to a sock-like, neoprene upper that “hugged” the foot. Memorable ads for it read, “Have you hugged your foot today?”
The “hug” approach came from a water skiing trip taken by Tinker Hatfield. “I remember popping my feet into a slalom ski, which has a neoprene bootie,” recalls Hatfield. “Just as I got yanked out of the water, I had a vision about how it would be great for a shoe. The next morning, I did this sketch.”
After adding a supportive, “exoskeleton”-like saddle, Hatfield showed the shoe to colleague Sandy Bodecker, who declared it “sneaker of the gods.” Not everyone at Nike shared this immediate enthusiasm, and there were debates about the shoe lacking a Swoosh.
“It didn't need a Swoosh,” says Hatfield, “because people knew that only Nike could think of this crazy idea and then pull it off.” The first 5,000 pairs were sold to marathon runners who fell in love with the Air Huarache’s uniquely comfortable fit.
“There’s this freedom of movement when you feel insulated, contained, and protected,” says Hatfield of the shoe’s appeal to runners (and later basketball players and cross-training athletes). Over the years, the Air Huarache was revised and re-released in various colorways, in many cases allowing the shoe to be lighter and more snug.
In celebration of the ‘91 Nike Air Huarache, Nike will release a remastered version that reflects the OG’s toe shape, low stance, woven tongue tag, stitch patterns, and original colorways. It comes with a hang tag and box paper inspired by the original Air Huarache ads.

“You take these risks. You go to a new place. You really don't know if it's going to work,” says Hatfield.
“The Air Huarache validated to us that sometimes you can take a bigger risk, and if you work hard, everything else falls into place. It changed the way that everybody thought about shoes.”
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