BEHIND THE DESIGN
AIR TAILWIND 79
If you thought that the first Nike Air shoe was the Air Max 1, think again. It was the Nike Air Tailwind, a runner that debuted during the 1978 marathon season in Hawaii and quickly became a coveted shoe franchise.
40 years later, the Air Tailwind represents not only cushioning innovation but a classic silhouette. Thanks to a mesh upper, soft ankle collar, unfinished tongue, full-length Nike Air, and waffle outsole, it checks all the necessary boxes for comfort, performance, and timeless style.
Nike Sportswear designers worked with the Department of Nike Archives to create a new, 1 to 1 version of the shoe, adapted to today’s shoe-making processes. The initial challenge was finding original versions of the Air Tailwind, since pairs are not only rare but precious. “A lot of the originals are so valuable that they have to be handled by specific people wearing gloves, much like a priceless piece of art,” says Rory Fraser, Nike Sportswear Product Line Manager.
Designers usually get to touch or take apart OG shoes. However, this hurdle didn’t stop them from working to maintain the original shape, colors, materials, and nostalgia. A product catalogue from the ‘70s revealed runners wearing Air Tailwinds with matching tracksuits and socks, so the team decided to make new socks that come with the shoe. Both the shoes and socks come in a blue version of the original box.
“Nike Air was created to help athletes not just perform better but to give them a greater amount of comfort and ease,” says Fraser. “The very essence of this shoe is making all runners and wearers enjoy every single step that much more.”