May 11, 2012 BY John Kim
Only a few sneakers in history have caused a whirlwind of discord and mayhem, reaching national media outlets and becoming the focus of scrutiny and criticism in response to the mass ‘must-have’ effect that an item can have on a consumer. In fact, we can count by hand the number of kicks that are likely remembered more for the chaotic aftermath rather than the shoe itself, and you can bet one of those is February’s release of the Air Foamposite One ‘Galaxy’. How did Foamposite mania reach this point of being one of the most coveted sneakers on the planet, when just a few years ago it was just a regional cult hit and considered too abstract upon its original release fifteen years ago? There are plenty of factors that have contributed to the rising fame of the Foamposite, but let’s take a look back to the original model and the underlying story that started it all – the original Nike Air Foamposite One in Dark Neon Royal/White-Black of 1997.
One of Nike’s rock-solid pillars has always been the strive for Innovation, and with each new breakthrough in design and engineering, Nike would essentially set the new boundaries and present itself a challenge for the next task. The Foamposite, on paper, seemed impossible; the idea was to attach a liquid cast-mold onto a solid rubber sole and be strong enough to withstand the movements of a top-flight athlete. Even so, the shoe wasn’t event built for Penny, but during a meeting between Penny and Foamposite One designer Eric Avar, Penny was mesmerized by the audacious design and insisted that the Foamposite be his next sneaker. However, the Air Foamposite One might’ve been too ahead of its time, bringing the foreign material front-and-center and opting for a unique build that, in simplest terms, can be described as a seamless upper shell wrapped around a dynamic-fit boot – something completely distinct from what Nike had released up until that point.
The Foamposite One was modern marvel of architecture and engineering, but like any iconic piece of work – a Van Gogh painting or a Kafka-penned story – it wasn’t exactly appreciated in its time. There were the Nike fanatics who reveled in the innovative concept, but perhaps the design was too avant-garde or the price of $180 too high (the original mold for the Foam One cost $750,000). The Foamposite One original appeared to be shelved for good as the original mold was consequently destroyed and the the Foam One would not return for another ten years, but in that time, Nike had its focus on other projects like cultivating the Vince Carter signature line around Shox and developing the Alpha Project while featuring Foamposite in other models like the Air Flightposite series, the Air Signature Player, etc.. The Foamposite One was just a fleeting idea, only to be revisited on occasion. A cult hit by definition.
The original Dark Neon Royal colorway has been re-issued several times – once in 2007, again in 2008 as a limited House of Hoops releases, and again in 2011 – but the Blue/Black has become the baseline colorway of anything Air Penny and continues to be the top dog among the growing Foamposite farm and an obvious inclusion for Classics Revisited. It’s opened up another category of ‘collectible sneaker model’, joining the likes of the SB Dunk and the Air Max 1 as prized gems (with the only incendiary side effect being on one’s savings account). Foamposite popularity is at an all-time high (both the model and the material), so while Nike has developed materials that are positively lighter and stronger (and cheaper), Foam is still a keynote feature on a number of new designs like the Air Bakin’ Posite Boot and even the Supreme x Nike SB ’94. It’s time to give the OG its props, so let us know if you were around for the original release and see what Royal Foams – OG or Retro – are available now on eBay.
Nike Air Foamposite One
Dark Neon Royal/White-Black
Add’l images: koolkicks on eBay