Before the creation of the Air Huarache in 1991, lead designer Tinker Hatfield was racking up accomplishments hand-over-fist at Nike like creating the Air Max and heading the design team for several of the early Air Jordan models. A water-skiing trip is what inspired the use of the form-fitting Neoprene inner bootie system, which acts like a sock in the way that it hugs the foot while worn.
As the first Nike running sneaker to not have a traditional heel counter, the Air Huarache was unlike all other running sneakers available. Not to be limited to a strictly performance silhouette, the Huarache has been adopted globally by fly cats and street dudes alike, because of the combination of both functionality and style.
Nike took the perma-sock technology, moved it out of being strictly a runner and was tooled into a training version and basketball version to expand the Huarache brand into other markets to reach other would-be consumers. Both the original running and basketball silhouette saw experimentation in the form of Nike Free soles, but that wasn’t received well. Thankfully those days are over and at the time of posting, we are in a huge resurgence of the Huarache with a whole new fanbase, thanks to the array of available Air Huarache colorways in America (which wasn’t always the case).
No matter how you personally might feel about the different variations of sneakers using the inner-bootie technology, it is undeniable how influential the Nike Huarache line is. Check out ten of the most iconic Huarache moments.
Nike Air Huarache Print Campaigns
Time travel might be responsible for the language used in the print adverts during the original Air Huarache campaign because of how well they described the futuristic design of the silhouette. These ads were so accurate in how well this shoe would be received that over twenty years later, the design can comfortably be called timeless.
NBA All-Stars Around The League Embracing The Air Flight Huarache
When it comes to making anything iconic, having an established icon helps dramatically. Seeing a bunch of top-level athletes using the same equipment can legitimize whatever that item may be. That was the case with the Air Flight Huarache. While Nike’s Force line was primarily seen on the feet of bigmen in the league, the Flight series was in the spotlight thanks to the high level guard play seen by players like Reggie Miller, Scottie Pippen, and John Starks. The Huarache Flight regularly worn by elite NBA players helped catapult the sneaker into iconic status.
Derek Redmond’s Dad Jim’s T-Shirt
Most notably equipped in a “Have You Hugged Your Foot Today?” Nike t-shirt with a large Air Huarache picture under the quote, Great Britain track & field athlete Derek Redmond’s father Jim was Swoosh’d out as he ran to aid his injured son cross the finish line. This was during the 400m race at the Olympic Games in Barcelona and happened in the debut year of the Huarache technology. What was an unfortunate incident for Redmond, became a unique promotional opportunity for Nike due to timely product seeding.
Kobe Bryant Wearing Air Flight Huarache Player Exclusives
The 2002-03 NBA season will go down as one of the most important in sneaker history with Kobe Bryant’s sneaker free agency as a highlight. Fresh off his adidas signature sneaker deal ending, a younger Black Mamba diversified his in-game footwear by playing in the best, current sneakers from all the big sportswear brands. That display made for some very interesting Player Exclusive colorways including these two pairs in Lakers home-and-away versions.
Nike Huarache Commercial With Michael Johnson
Gold isn’t the only color associated with track star Michael Johnson. In 1992 during the initial rollout of the Air Huarache, there was a commercial featuring Johnson wearing a purple Neoprene bodysuit to match the color on the Huarache tongue constructed of the same material.
Kobe Bryant Wearing Zoom Huarache 2K4
Originally, the Zoom Huarache 2K4 was slated to be Kobe Bryant’s first signature sneaker with Nike after leaving his adidas endorsement. Due to legal matters in 2004, they ended up being released under the Huarache moniker instead of being the first Swoosh shoe to have Bryant’s name.
Said to have a design directly inspired by eight specific sneakers (including the Blazer, Mercurial Vapor, Air Jordan XI, Air Penny IV), the impact is still seen in the league with players like Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams breaking them out every now-and-again.
Amare Stoudemire Wearing Zoom Huarache Trainers
Though seemingly unimportant, it is very much worth noting Amare Stoudemire wearing the Zoom Huarache Trainer all throughout the 2010-11 NBA season. This isn’t a basketball sneaker, yet Nike still drew up more Player Exclusive colorways than one hand could count. Seeing the official Swoosh support essentially co-signing the use showing the versatility of the cross-training division. The strapped Huarache Trainer silhouette was a clear inspiration for the next year’s Air Max Sweep Thru; what went on to be Stoudemire’s next official signature sneaker.
Michael Jordan Wearing Air Huarache After Winning 1991-92 NBA Finals.
Before Jordan Brand became as massive as it is today, it was considered an offshoot part of Nike Inc. With that understood, it shouldn’t be surprising to see His Airness swagging around in the popular sneakers under the Swoosh umbrella. At the end of the 1991-92 NBA season where Michael won his first back-to-back NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls, he not only celebrated the Game 6 win against the Trail Blazers in the Air Huarache, but also during the championship parade. This made for two very iconic pictures which helped paved the way for this very performance-driven sneaker to be accepted for casual wear as seen by one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Michigan ‘Fab Five’ Wearing Air Flight Huarache
It is universally known that the 1992 Michigan Wolverine basketball team was a trend-setting group for multiple reasons. Not just the first, big NCAA team to look the way they did & have an entire starting lineup made up of freshman players, the Fab Five is often heralded as the first group of athletes to popularize the compression-like Neoprene technology in a basketball sneaker.
Air Huarache Run Added To Nike iD
Judging by the dozens of colorways that released within 18 months of this list being published, it makes sense that enough pre-cut materials in different colors/materials were around to make thousands of additional Air Huarache Run pairs. When the Air Huarache became available as a customizable pallet on January 20, 2015 for Nike iD, that laid the groundwork down for this silhouette to be one of the biggest of the year and allowed a new generation to be introduced to this early 90s sneaker.