Classics Revisited: Nike Air Oscillate (1996)

October 26, 2012 BY

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NIKE TENNIS WEEK

Is the Nike Air Oscillate the ultimate ‘PE’ shoe? How’s this for “exclusive”: Pete Sampras wore a size 10.25. Not a 10, not a 10.5, but a 10.25. It’s understandable that Nike would go as far creating the perfect for Sampras, but the size is just the tip of this iceberg; Tinker Hatfield designed the Oscillate for Sampras without Sampras ever wearing the shoe. Instead, he got the feedback he needed from tennis athletes who wear-tested the shoe, and Sampras, who wasn’t open to switching what he had worn for years, was “tricked” into wearing the sneakers when Tinker proposed a pick-up game of basketball. Little did Sampras know that these “basketball” shoes were actually tennis shoes made just for him, and he liked them so much that he made the switch at the 1996 Australian Open, winning it all in the process. He went on to wear the Oscillate for seven more years, and tennis buffs often recall the AO as one of the best tennis shoes ever.

In addition to the 1996 original release, Nike made a special ‘Jordan’ edition of the shoe as a 1-of-1 gift to Pete for his 26th birthday; he wore the Jordan Oscillate PE at the ’97 US Open and throughout the entire season that year. Another notable special edition is the limited Air Oscillate Lux which served as a tribute to 14 Grand Slam titles. The Nike Air Oscillate II debuted in 1999, but Pete wore ’em only at the start of the ’99 season and quickly switched back the original Air Oscillate (did we mention, Pete doesn’t like change). In 2001, a slightly re-tooled version of the Air Oscillate Version III was mad, which Sampras wore to that year’s US Open. Such a plain looking shoe with such a rich and convoluted history – that’s Classics Revisited for ya!

Nike Air Oscillate


Images: complex/tenniswarehouse

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