December 29th, 2011 by Aaron Kr.
#11 – NIKE AIR FLOW TZ
Sneaker aficionados credit the 1990′s as the decade of the most striking and visually inspiring Nike footwear, creating legendary platforms for designers like Tinker Hatfield, Eric Avar, and Mark Smith. Sneaker fiends point to the 2000′s as the era of the ‘collector’, when the Air Jordan Retro took over the game, the Nike SB Dunk garnered a quickly-flourishing cult following, and two NBA superstars in Kobe Bryant and LeBron James emerged to carry the torch left by Michael Jordan and Penny Hardaway. So how did a running sneaker from the late 1980′s, intended for marathon/long-distance running, and designed after two unassuming non-performance items become one of surprise hits of 2011, twenty-two long years of not making a peep? That shoe is the Nike Air Flow, but before we get to how this bewildering sneaker release boiled down and shocked the world, it’s time for a crash-course on a shoe so ahead of its time that it manifests itself in innovative designs today.
Designed by Bruce Kilgore, whose previous works include the Air Jordan II and the Nike Air Force 1, the Air Flow was intended to be a long-distance/marathon performance sneaker; the upper design drew upon early Nike heritage, namely the 1985 Nike Sockracer, taking advantage of the minimalist construction for a breathable upper. The conception of the midsole came from a Tuff Stuff teddy bear; upon stepping on and jumping up and down on top of the
bear, Kilgore performed a stuffing transplant (RIP, bear) and created a midsole from the material, giving the shoe a unique comfort sensation and truly a one-of-a-kind running experience. The resulting Air Flow would be quite a shock to the consumer crowd, with Nike using the ‘Run around naked. Kinda.’ slogan to market the shoe; the Flow would also serve as a precursor to some of the most revolutionary Nike Running innovations of all time, like the Air Huarache, Air Presto, Free, LunaRacer and more.
The Nike Air Flow released in mid-June in two original colorways – White/Bright Cactus-Blue Glow and Lush Teal/Varsity Purple-Summit White. This summertime blast from the past would be available at the most select Nike Sportswear accounts as it was deemed a Tier Zero release, and both versions instantly sold out to a diverse crowd of sneakerheads. Current re-sale prices of the Air Flow have reached astounding heights, eclipsing the ranks of other highly-coveted releases by demanding over triple its retail price. Due to a limited circulation of the shoe and high demand, prices continue to soar and the legend of the Air Flow is re-created and told to a fresh generation of sneakerheads that may not have even been around when the shoe first came to be known. The consumer response to the Air Flow release was surprising to say the least, especially considering Nike Sportswear’s emphasized efforts to bring back some of the oldest members of the archive has been met with a reserved acceptance. What does Nike Sportswear have in store in the coming year that would be deemed “the Air Flow of 2012″? We can only wait and see.