December 29th, 2011 by Aaron Kr.
#1 – NIKE MAG 2011
What occurs in the past often shapes the future, and that is especially true for the Back To The Future saga. The direct influence it has had on pop culture as well as comedic science fiction in film and television solidifies the true impact that a fictional story can have on reality, even when the story involves a high-school teenager traveling backward and forward through time with the help of a mad scientist. Marty McFly and Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown are the two unforgettable names and lead characters of the Back To The Future franchise, but how do those names tie into sneaker folklore? As the sequel was being written, the producers of the movie approached Nike with a question: What would a shoe look like in 30 years? A Nike design team headlined by Tinker Hatfield came up with the Mag – a super high-top, power-lacing, brightly lit pair of futuristic sneakers that would help Marty hoverboard around the city with ease in the year 2015. Since the release of the movie, the Nike Mag has been immortalized as one of the great icons of film and sneakers, enjoyed only through watching the film. Nike would later use the Nike Mag as the design inspiration for one of its greatest footwear designs in the Nike Hyperdunk, releasing a special edition ‘McFly’ colorway that now demands a pretty penny.
On September 7th, 2011, Nike invited select members of the media to join together in Los Angeles for a clandestine event. The select few who made the trip out West were given no details regarding what was in store; all that was provided to them was a mysterious black box, holding inside it the only hint they would need – a pair of metallic silver shield glasses. Those who were quick to realize that it was the same prop used by Doc Brown in Back To The Future II figured out soon enough that the hints that surrounded them were a bit more obvious than they initially perceived; along with the glasses, which contained the cryptic message of ‘It’s About Time’, the host of the event was none other than Tinker Hatfield. It was undoubtedly the greatest secret ever kept by Nike, especially considering today’s worldwide popularity of sneakers and the leaky tendencies of the internet, but we were finally treated to a legitimate teaser when YouTube user DocEmmettBrown88 gave us a quick look into McFly’s closet; inside it were 1,500 pairs of the Nike Mag 2011!
It’s been twenty-three years since the Nike Mag appeared in Back To The Future II, and since then, the Mag has been chronicled as one of the greatest sneakers to have never been released. Now, Nike was ready to pull out all the stops to launch this fabled piece of sneaker mythology, and who better than Michael J. Fox himself? The first and only Marty McFly appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman on the night of September 8th, bringing the Nike Mag 2011 and the true message of the ‘Back For The Future’ campaign; by bringing together three independent focus groups – the Parkinson’s community, the Back To The Future trilogy fanatics, and the hardcore sneaker enthusiasts – Nike and the Michael J. Fox Foundation would purposefully embark on this historic endeavor to create a future without Parkinson’s Disease through donated dollars and increased awareness.
As the story goes, the self-lacing Nike Mag would be available in the year 2015, but with the release of the shoe being four years ahead of time, Nike created a ‘lost’ episode titled ‘Back For The Future’, in which Doc Brown would mistakenly travel to the year 2011 while encountering the youthful Kevin Durant and funny-man Billy Hader at a store inside Lone Pine Mall. It is then that Doc realizes that he is in the wrong ‘time’, because the Nike Mags he is looking for do not power lace! (Well, at least not until 2015, according to Tinker Hatfield.) Nike pulled out all the stops to recreate this ‘lost’ chapter of the action-packed saga, bringing back the original creative team from the Back To The Future franchise, as well as Christopher Lloyd, the original Doc Brown. With the Nike Mag 2011 now introduced to the world and the eBay auctions about to commence, the biggest sneaker release of the year, and arguably the last two decades, was about to go down in the history books.
The Nike Mag 2011 auctions officially began on the night of September 8th at Nike Sportswear’s Montalban Theater, where hip-hop artist Tinie Tempah kicked off the madness with a $37,500 final bid on the very first pair. Live auction events would be held at other major cities such as Amsterdam, Tokyo, London, Paris, Las Vegas, and New York City, all of which featured the time-traveling DeLorean parked out in front of the venues; for those who were limited to the confines of their homes, a 10-day, 1,500-pair auction extravaganza provided the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own the most long-awaited sneaker release in history. Tempah’s $37,500 purchase would prove to be just the tip of a massive iceberg of philanthopists, sneakerheads, and combination of both, as the first night of auctions would bring in more than $900,000, with the final tally after ten days totaling an astounding $5,695,190.53. Combined with the pledge made by Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki, the entire Nike Mag 2011 Limited Edition auctions resulted in one of the most successful charity auctions in history.
The excitement and hype around the shoe made gripping headlines all across the globe, making it not just the top sneaker story of the year, but one of the most fascinating topics in the crowded pop culture news-wire. Sneaker websites, tech and gadget blogs, even the most mainstream media outlets could not resist exploring the mystique behind the Nike Mag 2011. The Mags were an immense celebrity draw as well; on top of Tinie Tempah’s lofty final auction bid, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson, Theophilus London, Soulja Boy and more all threw down the necessary dollars to obtain their own Mags, and some obtained multiple pairs. Of course, there were a few controversial matters to have risen from the event, like the opening-day auction that rose to a jaw-dropping $75,000 (it would be pulled by eBay), and the influx of collectors cashing in on Back To The Future memorabilia (one of the miniature replicas sold for over $1,000) amidst the booming hype. Other sneaker collectors and Back To The Future fanatics found the price a bit too high to pay, even for an item that was considered a ‘must-have’ in both circles. But when it was all said and the done, the Nike Mag 2011, twenty-three years in the making, proved to be worth the slow and steady ride into the future, and is without a doubt the top sneaker release of 2011.