A Brief History of Nike’s ‘Viotech’ Purple

Throughout the history of footwear, there are a few colours that have always held an association with Nike in particular. Air Jordan III’s ‘True Blue’, the vibrant teal found on the Nike SB ‘Tiffany’ Dunk, the 2002 atmos x Nike Air Max 1 – the list goes on and on…

Ahead of this weeks release of our latest project together with Nike, the size? Exclusive Shox TL, we’ve taken a look back through the brand’s back catalogue to take a closer look at archival shoes that have incorporated the rich ‘Viotech’ Purple.

Dunk Low Pro B ‘Rainbow’ co.jp – 2001

The Viotech story first takes us back to the year 2001, in a pre ‘internet-sneakerhead’ time when dial-up was king, and it wasn’t as easy as it is today to track down regional exclusive releases from abroad without travelling thousands of miles. During this time Nike’s Japanese division was in the process of introducing their co.jp initiative, which created colourways only available in very select locations in the country. One such release was this ‘Rainbow’ Dunk Low Pro B, which released alongside the similarly coloured ‘Ugly Duckling’ Trio. It’s an eye-watering mash-up of colours that clash so much, but it just works!

This was also the era of the Pro B Dunk, an altered version of the classic Dunk DNA, fitted out with premium materials, thicker laces and a slightly more padded interior. The Pro B pre-dated 2002’s launch (or-relaunch if you like) of Nike’s skateboard division and were almost built to test the waters of that market before the big announcement was made.

atmos x Nike Air Max 1 – 2002

The importance of Japanese retailer atmos’ impact on this culture as a whole today is undeniable, and their numerous collaborative shoes with Nike still continue to turn heads 17 years later. The first to implement the ‘Mini Swoosh’ on the mudguard of an Air Max 1 on their earlier ‘Safari’ themed release, this also featured on their second project – the ‘Viotech’ Air Max 1. Although it became the moniker for the release, the actual percentage of Viotech on the shoe is actually fairly minimal, covering the leather side Swoosh and Air unit interior.

The age of these, unfortunately, makes the midsoles almost unwearable nowadays, unless you fancy going through the effort of sole-swapping to ensure the colourway lives on forever.

Nike Air Trainer III – 2002

It’s a struggle to find too much information on the release of this saturated version of the Air Trainer III, so we’ll focus a little more on the shoe’s lineage. The Air Trainer family were famed for being built to cater for a wide range of sports. Originating in 1987, Tinker Hatfield set himself the task of designing a shoe that would work both on the court and in the gym. Poster boys for the original Air Trainer 1 included King of Cross-Training Bo Jackson and John McEnroe, who debuted a prototype of the shoe on the court and refused to hand it back due to its perfect performance.

The Air Trainer’s form has evolved since ’87, but the signature strap has stayed largely intact as a recognisable marker of the shoe’s importance in sporting history. In 2002, a bright, all-over Viotech colour-up arrived, accented by Dandelion yellow and grey strapping.

atmos x Nike Air Max 95 – 2003

atmos took the success of the previous years Air Max 1 and applied the same aesthetic to another icon from the Visible Air family. Back in 1995, Nike saw an opportunity to shift the direction of the performance sneaker market at the time. With so much focus on basketball, partly down to the domination of Michael Jordan’s signature line, the brand’s Air Max family needed a fresh perspective and Nike brought in ACG designer Sergio Lozano to spearhead the project. Sergio Lozano positioned the revolutionary Air Max 95 project as a means to recapture the public’s attention towards visible Air.

The application of the earthy palette lent itself perfectly to the form of the 95, added the graduated tones of brown to each of the suede ribs. The Viotech purple was added to the eyelets, ‘AirMax’ tongue branding, hiking style laces and Air units.

Nike Dunk Low ‘Viotech’ Reissue – 2013

Twelve years after its initial release, the Viotech Dunk Low made a reappearance in 2013, albeit with a few alterations and updates. Colour placement was largely the same. The golden mid-panel iteration is the noticeable one as it’s now more of an orange shade. The branding element on this release had also changed, with debossed tabs replacing the original nylon tongue label and stitched ‘Nike’ heel panel.

Aleali May x Air Jordan 1 ‘Viotech – 2018

Following in the footsteps of Jordan collaborator Va$htie Kola, Aleali May was the second woman ever to get the chance to work on her own collaborative Air Jordan model. For two out of three of her projects, the original Air Jordan 1 has been the silhouette of choice, channelling her classic yet adaptable style through its combination of panels. For the second instalment, Aleali looked back to the placement and palette found on the original 2002 Dunk, adding her own feminine flavour to the pink mid-section and furry tongue. Viotech sat in its traditional rear panel spot, extending further up the ankle and incorporating the winged Air Jordan stamp of approval.

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