September 19, 2018 by tinmy2014
In 1997, everything about the Nike Air Foamposite One screamed future. 20 years later, it’s still screaming.
Eric Avar, the mind behind the Foamposite and Kobe Bryant’s partner in crime at Nike a few year later, had an interesting inspiration for the shoe – a beetle. Or to be more specific, the skeleton of a beetle. Usually when you hear about stories behind the design, it’s man-made stuff like cars, planes, etc. Nope, the Foams were inspired by a beetle. The shoe was the result of Avar being ahead of the curve.
The actual making of the Foamposite forced Nike to look outside of the box. Because the material that was to be used on the shoe was unlike anything Nike had worked on before, it required a wholly different method than ever before, so they tapped car manufacturer Daewoo to help devise a method in making it a reality. You’ve no doubt heard the story of the $750,000 mold that was created just to build the Foams, but let that sink in for a second. Nike spent $750,000 – not including all the money burned on research and development – just to create something that was at the time yet to be proven to work. The process – which took two years to go from concept to reality – was not only out of this world, but it could have been out of reach if Nike hadn’t taken that gamble. To get to the future, you need to take some risks sometimes.
For such a revolutionary and highly experimental shoe, Nike needed an athlete who represented not where the game was but where it was going. So it made sense that they were going to have Scottie Pippen launch the Foams. That’s right, one of the great sneaker “what ifs” is who Foams should have gone to. According to legend, Avar wanted Pippen to wear the Foams but Penny wanted them for himself when he caught a peek of them in a design meeting. Penny had the foresight and Nike let him have it, breaking from his own signature shoe line to rock them.
Penny wasn’t the only the player of the future that would earn the distinction of debuting the Foams to the world. The 1997 Arizona Wildcats all received pairs of the Royal Blue Foams during their run to the National Championship, but Mike Bibby was the only star who actually put them to use on the court. At the time, many believed Bibby to be the next superstar point guard. So the shoe of the future was being worn by the point guard of the future. Makes sense, right?
The Shoe Game
In 2012, the sneaker world was shaken up when graphics appeared on the Foamposite for the first time with the release of the Galaxy during NBA All-Star Weekend. It set the stage for the future of the Foams, as many more colorful takes on the shoe would follow. It was impossible to follow up the Galaxy, but Nike tried their damnedest to hope lightning would strike twice.
Now we see Foams of all kinds sit in stores once again, much like we did before it’s late 2000s revival. This time around, they’re sitting because sneakerheads have shifted in favor of sneakers with minimalist design and maximum comfort, whether it be adidas NMDs, Nike Lunarcharges or even New Balance 247s. But don’t count the Foams out as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Royal colorway this past weekend. Between the expected rollout of new Foams in 2017 and kids once again looking for what’s new and fresh, we could be at the cusp of the cycle starting once again for the shoe. And if not, then 20 years as the sneaker of the future is not a bad title to have, right?