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QUESTION – Why did Nike first start
creating product for outdoor pursuits?

When Nike first started to think about how sneakers could translate into the more
rugged environment outdoors, I was working as Nike’s corporate architect. This
was before I started designing shoes.

Tinker:

At that time, Mark Parker and I were going on some outdoor adventures. One of my
favorite memories was going to Smith Rock to explore, rock climb, and float down
the Deschutes River. Another time we went to a mountain and biked to the top. We
didn’t even have real mountain bikes, we just went for it and had fun. I think humans
are predisposed to have fun in the outdoors.

My involvement with ACG was inspired by what Mark did with one of Nike’s earliest
running shoes, the Escape. Mark altered the outsole with a hefty waffle outsole wrap
in the forefoot for added traction and durability. The upper was made out of highly
abrasion resistant nylon upper and he swapped out the tip in the heel counter—
usually made with a lightweight synthetic leather—for a more durable suede. I was
so impressed with what he did with the shoe, and it came as no surprise that people
really loved it.

At the time, people were already taking their running shoes out on the trails, but the
shoes weren’t holding up that great. When you’re outdoors, nothing should hold you
back from being adventurous – and I think that’s what led Mark to design the
Escape.

Ultimately, it was the adventurous people trying to have fun in the outdoors that
helped push us into this space.

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QUESTION – How did ACG start?

ACG started with a group of Nike designers and developers who were all interested
in performance athletics and bringing that to the outdoors. When I started working as
a footwear designer, my very first product was a hiking shoe.

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QUESTION – When did the potential of ACG first become apparent?

When we first started working on ACG we wanted to build product for the outdoors,
designed from both an adventurous and athletic perspective. ACG stood for All
Conditions Gear and All Conditions means all conditions.

The Nike Mowabb was the shoe that really opened up the project’s potential for me.
It represented a new kind of thinking for outdoor equipment. It actually started as a
moccasin, they are great in the outdoors, especially in the high plains where it’s
drier, and evolved from there.

I was also visiting Moab often where I would take five or six-day trips to go mountain
biking and rock climbing. I would come home beat up and bloody from riding down a
mountain dodging trees, knowing if I made a mistake I was really going to get hurt.

But the excitement of being in the outdoors, in an environment that you don’t have
control over, was—and still is!—enticing. And it was really this idea of being
outdoors, having fun and testing your limits that that led us to design outdoor
products to withstand wild outdoor adventures.

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QUESTION – What has been the response to ACG?

At Nike, we serve the athlete. At the time we were launching ACG, we wanted to
serve athletes with something that didn’t exist: footwear that was comfortable and
versatile and that would protect the wearer from the elements no matter what
outdoor activity they were performing.

After the Nike Air Mada, the Nike Air Mada was also a hit and we continued to
push the limits with the Air Revaderchi and the Deschutz. All of these shoes struck a
chord with consumers, and their continued popularity proves to me the ACG line of
footwear will withstand the test of time for many years to come.

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