February 8, 2012 BY John Kim
History can always be retold through books and word-of-mouth, but when it comes to sneakers, nothing refreshes an old spirit better than the re-release of a shoe. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary is the Nike Air Safari, which debuted in 1987 as a slump-buster of sorts, according to designer Tinker Hatfield, who forged ahead with fellow innovative minds like Mark Parker, Sandy Bodecker, and a few others to perform experiments with unique materials and designs. The Air Safari was part of the game-changing ‘Air Pack’ of 1987, which featured the Air Max 1, Air Trainer 1, Air Revolution, and Air Sock; the inspiration behind the famous Safari print came from a high-end furniture store in New York City, which displayed couches and coffee-tables that were priced in the tens of thousands. One particular piece of furniture that caught Tinker’s attention was a couch that was fashioned in an exotic ostrich skin – something Tinker had never seen before. He quickly discovered that this exotic, high-end approach was reserved for the upper, upper class (aka, the insanely rich), and he chose to transfer that level of luxury to a running shoe.
The result was the Air Safari, which featured a stylized version of that influential ostrich skin, but it was Tinker’s intention that the Air Safari serve not only as a performance running shoe, but as a casual shoe as well. Tinker further likened the shoe to an Aston Martin, mentioning that like the luxury car brand, the Safari was indeed capable of serving as a superb high-performance shoe, only people wore them for fashion. Since its debut in ’87, the Air Safari has reached cult status and has become a hit-or-miss type item in the re-sale market, selling anywhere from less than what you’d expect to more than double your budget. It’s been quite some time since the Air Safari re-released in the original colorways (the last Retro falling in the early 00’s), but the iconic print has popped its head out several times on Dunks, Air Force 180s, Air Maxes, and rather prominently in 2010’s CR Mercurial Vapor III football boot. With 2012 marking the Silver Anniversary of the Air Safari, this famed cult classic is poised for a much-anticipated rejuvenation with a plethora of new colorways and hybridizations already confirmed, so check out the gallery of detailed images of the original colorway below and let us know if you’re a fan of this iconic design!