Nike’s world-renowned Air Presto has been one of the Beaverton brand’s defining silhouettes for the past two decades. Dubbed the ‘t-shirt for the foot’, due to its snug, sock-like fit; the trainer is celebrated for its unique designs and comfort. With a new silhouette out next week at size?, we thought we would give you a little history lesson on the legendary trainer.
There is no denying it – Nike made some of the best trainers ever in the ‘90s – the Air Max 90, Air Huarache, Air Max 95 (to name a few), changed the dynamics of how shoes should look and feel on your feet. So, at the turn of the century, the pressure was on to innovate their products even further.
Nike left this task up to the designer Tobie Hatfield (yes, Tinker’s brother), who is now well-known for creating the pioneering Nike Free line. He aimed to create a comfy trainer with a flawless fit. Was this possible? Tobie did a pretty good job.
The OG Air Presto had a flexible sock-like upper, offering a secure fit without the need for uncomfortably pulling your laces too tight. What’s more, they followed a clothes-inspired sizing system, using XXXS-XXXL instead of the traditional shoe number system – this further enhanced the ‘t-shirt for the foot’ persona.
Additionally, it was crafted with super breathable mesh on the upper with colours and an iconic midfoot cage that took inspiration from the Apple iMac G3 and its transparent casings. As well as both tech and clothing inspiration, classic branding featured throughout, with the Air Presto’s iconic Swoosh on the midsole line, one on the toe box, plus there was further Air branding to the heel, signalling its lineage.
Adding to this, five dots on the outsole signalled the trainer’s part in the Alpha Project, a collection of Nike’s most innovative trainers. To finish, the silhouette offered protection from scuffs with a TPV toe cap, and they sat on a lightweight Phylon midsole with a Duralon outsole for trusty grip underfoot.
In 2000, the trainer landed with 13 striking colourway, which all had a nickname to form an elaborate marketing campaign. The titles were: Brutal Honey, Trouble at Home, Unholy Cumulus, Shady Milkman, Rabid Panda, Orange Monk, Jack Mackerel, Migraine Fly, Presto Bill, Catfight Shiner, Rogue Kielbasas, Abdominal Snowman, and the final trainer wasn’t given a title.
It was not long before the trainer became a massive hit within popular culture. The Beaverton brand created a selection for Eric Clapton, who wore them on his world tour in 2001, and they were later auctioned off for charity. The shoes were also worn by Sébastien Foucan in Nike’s famous “Angry Chicken” commercial, a classic bit of marketing that documented the quickly rising street sport Parkour. It also had somewhat random moments; like taking part in the official branding for the Sex and the City movie in 2008.
On top of the trainer’s global success, it also gained cult status through its elaborate range of collaborations and limited-edition models. Releases from their early years, such as the “Lightening” and the “Lava” really showed the experimentation and creativity behind the designs. They offered a real love it or hate it approach, and these type of designs made them the stuff of legends.
Nike has also collaborated with a range of brands for this trainer; they have linked-up with Sole Collector, Hello Kitty for their 30th anniversary and OFF-WHITE. Adding to this, in 2020 we were gifted with a re-issue of the 2000’s “Australia Olympic”; originally designed for the Aussie athletes during the Sydney Olympics. A striking model was also released for the USA team too.
Now, the forthcoming Nike Air Presto “Crimson/Siren Red” is landing next week; this is a reissue of the 2000 masterwork which was part of the co.jp collection. Due to the OG’s Japanese exclusivity, this trainer was at the top of the list for many Presto connoisseurs around the globe. Design-wise, it expresses the Air Presto’s limitless creativity, with sunrise-inspired mesh on the upper offering eye-catching vibrancy. Plenty of classic features remain, with a protective synthetic midfoot cage, five midsole dots, Swooshes and a cushioning EVA midsole underfoot.
If you have been a collector over the past couple of decades, or you are new to the Air Presto, you can expect to see plenty of more reissues in the future.
Nike Air Presto “Crimson/Siren Red” will be available on the size? launches app soon. It is available in men’s and women’s sizes and is priced at £115.