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Revisiting The Nike Mag Launch From 2011

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A Nike Mag sneaker, complete with hands-free power-lacing capabilities, is all but confirmed for October 21st, 2015. That is, after all, the date that Marty McFly travels to in Back To The Future 2, and although most of what was predicted in that futuristic scenario of hoverboards and punk-rock inspired attired was inaccurate, Nike is doing what it can to make at least one of those visions come true. Tinker Hatfield confirmed a release for power-lacing Nike Mags last February during a Q&A session at All-Star Weekend, and just recently a former art director at Wieden+Kennedy took to social media to announce the October 21st date, although he didn’t exactly say much about a release.

Four years ago Nike launched an earlier version of the Nike Mag called the Nike Mag 2011; it had the same design as the shoes worn by McFly in the ’89 film, but because they arrived too early in the future, power-lacing technology wasn’t around and the shoes were just one step (albeit a big one) from being the perfect fit. Still, the 2011 release of the Nike Mags was undeniably the most significant of the year, and there’s no question that the October release will have the same impact. Let’s take a look back at a quick timeline of events that led up to the Mag 2011 release as well as the events that followed.

in 1989, the sequel to the massively popular Back To The Future film was released to movie theaters worldwide. The plot featured Marty McFly traveling into the future to the year 2015, where Nike’s power-lacing footwear innovation called the Mag was first seen. From this point on, the Nike Mag was often remembered as one of the brand’s greatest creations, although the shoe never exactly existed in real life and lived on only through short video clips and random references over the years.

In 2008, Nike unveiled the Nike Hyperdunk, a revolutionary basketball sneaker that showcased some new design innovations that would carry the brand into a new generation of high-performance footwear. The Hyperdunk was found to be partly inspired by the Mag, with the sharp ankle cut and pronounced heel badge lending to that Mag aesthetic. Perhaps the most memorable Mag release was the Hyperdunk “McFly”, which was inspired by the colorway of the fictional power-lacing shoes. What followed was a series of more “McFly” iterations of Nike sneakers such as the Zoom Tre A.D., Hypermax, and Hyperdunk 2011.

On September 8th, 2011, the Sneaker News was invited to a special event that was to be held at the storefront of 21 Mercer. Details were sparse, but we were aware that other bloggers from around the nation were invited to another event out in Los Angeles at Nike Sportswear at the Montalban Theater. We didn’t know what to expect, but we had a gut feeling that something huge was about to go down – especially when we saw a massive crate sitting right outside the store above the cobble-stone street.

Before the crate was busted open, we were allowed exclusive access inside the store. What we saw was a display that featured the Nike Mag in pristine form, so it was certain that the shoes were not an unearthed replica from when the movie was being made. The placards besides the shoe display revealed that 1,510 pairs would go to auction, with all proceeds going to charity.

Finally, the prize is revealed; inside the crate is a DeLorean decked out for time-travel, with a Mattel Hoverboard ready and waiting on the passenger seat.

Technicians are prepping the car for full display, which features flux capacitor and all.

A Nike employee emerges from the door way with a never-before-seen Nike box.

After years of waiting, the Nike Mag 2011 was confirmed for release through exclusive auctions on eBay that began on 11:30 PM EST. These miniature ceramic models were handed out by Nike employees were at the unveiling.

On the night of September 8th, 2011, Michael J. Fox was the guest of honor for The Late Show with David Letterman; he used the platform to not only debut the Nike Mag 2011 to the general public, but to reveal the charitable mission that Nike had set out on for this monumental release. It was also revealed that Google co-founder Sergey Brin and wife Anne Wojcicki would match the dollar proceeds garnered by the Nike Mag auctions.

After the on-site events at Nike Sportswear at 21 Mercer, Nike Sportswear at the Montalban Theater, and the live auction even at the Oxford Circus, Nike officially unveiled a video short that recreated the Back To The Future II storyline, with Christopher Lloyd reprising his role as Doc Brown and Kevin Durant as an alternate version of Marty McFly. The key role in this short is certainly Tinker Hatfield, who quickly responds to Doc’s request for “power lacing” with “not til 2015”. That right there began rumors of a true Nike Mag release in four years.

After days of eBay auctions, the Nike Mag 2011 release was officially over. The ten-day event revealed some interesting data regarding the final bid prices of the sneakers, which are tame in comparison to what current re-sell value of the Nike Mag 2011 is. $3,000 for a pair of Mags is, without question, a bargain.

Illustrations by Stefan Knecht for Sneaker News

All was quiet on the Nike Mag front, until Tinker Hatfield had our ears perked up during a Q&A session at the 2014 All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. Simply put, Tinker reiterated the one line he had in that video short and confirmed that power-lacing Nike Mags would be releasing in 2015. A release date hasn’t been revealed, but October 21st, 2015 seems like a the perfect time. Stay tuned…