Never Done Iterating
Department of Nike Archives
Over the past four decades, the Pegasus went from a utility running shoe, to an afterthought and is now one of Nike's most beloved staples. Explore the history of our most popular running shoe ever.
To say that Pegasus is Nike's most popular running shoe of all time somehow doesn't do the shoe's winding journey justice. Over four decades, it's been edited, re-thought and re-invented over and over again. We've had lots of success and a few failures. Pegasus had to earn its reliable reputation and throughout the years, we worked towards this singular goal.
"I think everybody always knew it was one of those things where you didn't want to change it. That was the biggest challenge—how to make it better without changing it".
Clare Hamill, former Nike Running team lead.
As we unveil the Pegasus 39—which includes, for the first time, a second Zoom Air unit as well as a more breathable upper for all-climate runs—we'd love to share the moments that brought us to this point.
Nike introduces Pegasus, its first mid-priced running shoe featuring pressurised Air technology, focused on performance and affordability. It was immediately popular, a clear sign that Nike hit all the right notes for the everyday runner.
Known for innovation, Nike tries to iterate on Pegasus without radically changing its core offering. But when visible Air is introduced, runners resist the new technology and Nike drops the line in 1998.
For many nostalgic runners, feelings towards the original Pegasus have never faltered. So, the Nike Running team completely re-imagines Pegasus. They eliminate the visible Air component, the team "bakes" the Air console inside the shoe—a notable innovation—making it light and well cushioned. Pegasus is ready to run again.
The sneaker has a runner's high when it's adapted specifically for women. Two years later, the women's Pegasus becomes completely gender specific with its own design and innovations.
After about 25 months of development, a heightened level of scrutiny and 47,000 cumulative miles of wear testing, the Air Zoom Pegasus 35 is released in 12 colourways. It's the most successful Pegasus in history, selling 12 million pairs in 12 months. The comprehensive testing of Pegasus 35 completely resets the legacy of the line.
Inspired by the future of Pegasus, sculptor Fabian Oefner created a piece called Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39: Innovation Artifact. In this work, Oefner deconstructs the latest Pegasus model, fills the shoe with resin and slices the shoe apart to rearrange it, representing the iterative history and comprehensive process behind the shoe's design.
We're extremely excited about all of the innovations that went into the Pegasus 39. We're hoping it sets up the next 39 years of Pegasus.