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In 1969, two astronauts took the first steps on the moon, declaring their mission a “giant leap for mankind.” Just three years later, Nike outfitted runners with Nike’s “moon shoes,” which featured the famous waffle iron-inspired outsole pattern thought up by Nike Co-Founder, Bill Bowerman. The shoe got its name from having a distinctive imprint in dirt, which resembled those now-classic lunar footprints.

The “moon shoe,” was made to provide more traction and comfort than other shoes on the market. Its debut marked the beginning of a revolution in the footwear industry. “A shoe must be three things,” said Bill Bowerman. “It must be light, comfortable, and it’s got to go the distance.”

Nike Sportswear design noticed parallels between the origin of the “moon shoe” and Breaking2, the company’s 2017 attempt to break the two-hour marathon barrier with the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%. “Both the Moon Racer and the VaporFly 4% tell stories around innovation,” says Nathan Schultze, Nike Sportswear footwear designer. “They celebrate Nike’s vision of enhancing human potential through sport.”

Schultze and fellow designers wanted to celebrate this moment in Nike’s past while creating an everyday shoe for today. They first referenced the upper design of the “moon shoe” with the latest cushioning innovation, Nike React, in the midsole. Then, they chose two colorways, String/Black/Volt to represent an early Nike hue and Black/White/Gray to represent the present. They named this new shoe the Nike Moon Racer.

“We played into the idea of space exploration, and even more specifically, the moon, as the ultimate in human aspiration,” adds Schultze. The Moon Racer’s sockliner has a graphic of the moon, while the dust bag has phases of the moon on one side and a goddess of victory graphic on the other.

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