How Nike’s Huarache Became an International Phenomenon
The Nike Air Huarache is 23 years old.
Countless technologies have come and gone since the Huarache was launched, but the appeal of this one continues. Some people will try to tell you that the world of sneakers (sneakers if we have to call them that for a global audience) is in bad health, but the fact that a shoe is old enough to drink legally – and in the days when this one first appeared we thought the shoes were getting so progressive they could eat, talk, drink foot androids by 2014 – is the big shoe now so much a testament to a lack of progression than a demonstration of the endless appeal of great design.
That the excitement is over a shoe that hasn’t even been reissued properly – without the special Huarache box, screwing the last, frequently skimping on quality (watch out for those glue marks) beyond edits QS, and falling in a variety of ghastly colorways – is odd, but it reinforces the power of Tinker Hatfield’s design. That this coin could even be clickbait on a US-based site right now is proof that the hype has not plateau.
In 1991, this shoe was just there one day. The UK’s love for the running shoe dates back to the end 1970s – given the sport’s lack of popularity here, the basketball shoe was not going to dominate, and the explosion of jogging, music-led subcultures and the many mythologized the terrace culture has given Europe as a whole an appetite for the next road race.
Despite co-signing Michael Johnson and local prefer Derek Redmond being carried across the finish line in a devastated state by his father in full Nike gear (with the slogan “Have you squeezed your foot today?” on his chest) during the Barcelona Olympics, the Huarache was just the right shoe for the right time. The runner’s world reviews said the shoe lacked breathability, but who wore them for their intended purpose? The runner’s world might have been ambivalent about its advantages over distances, but Source would proclaim Huarache technology the shoe event of the year in 1992.
In the UK, the Huarache was just the right shoe for the right time – rude boy, influenced by ragga style was colossal, crews like Soul II Soul defined British style, sportswear had been the choice of street clothing for several years on the rise, and the pin roll was an increasingly popular way to show off shoes, whether JordansAirMax, ZXor viking. bitch the drawstrings, jeans or clicksuits and the familiar argyle patterns of Burlington socks capture a moment in time, although Huarache wearers can also do without socks.
This design was popular for the same reason some kids might want to throw away the prettiest pin-roll and go for fun pre-rolled pants with a pair – it had the minimal, foot-flattering profile that looked good on its own. He wasn’t suffocated by distressed denim swathes. For this reason, the Huarache and its Huarache Trainer brethren might just be the best addition to a tracksuit ever, and never forget that generation after generation of young Britons have been resuming the gray or black sweatpants as a staple long before anyone had to create insecurity comfortable movement to justify wearing normal things. There was even a time when, thanks to the shoe’s Dynamic-Fit, it was worn without laces.
the Huarache and its Huarache Trainer brethren might just be the best addition to a tracksuit ever.
Then there were the 1992 Foot Locker Limited Edition editions of the shoe – the Quick shots of their day for anyone who had a large FL branch in their vicinity – who took the legendary Escape line ACG-Style looks and sort of demystifying them. They boasted of the right to neutral colors.
The Huarache made a strong appearance in the now defunct, then influential society The face magazine alongside models wearing the Air Max BW – another 1991 release with longevity in the UK – and was on shelves until 1993, when the white and black edition would be a staple shoe that made his final statement in the sales rack. And that was it, right?
By the turn of the millennium, the appetite for reissues had left the 1980s and began to call for the return of some more technical styles. In 2000, a London couple with a knack for tapping into the most discerning tastes – Michael Kopelman and Fraser Cooke – would design two colors of the Air Huarache before its imminent reissue for Stüssy. It was a big moment in any shoe collaboration timeline, and it created a plan that currently seems particularly disjointed right now, with several mediocre shoes with cute monikers dropping every weekend. But at the time it was new – a street clothing brand and a sportswear brand working together seemed unusual, although Stüssy had been worn with Nike for years. The duo resulting from makeups are still amazing – both with more than a little limited edition and escapist air about them.
The Air Huarache would fall in some originals colors and some new stuff makeups in the following years. Via Foot Locker, the Huarache and Huarache Trainer would become street level favorites again, with connoisseurs hoarding them at the start of the shoe boom, kids who had no interest in message boards tossing them barely laced, and nostalgics who were pleasantly surprised to pick them up. Kids who saw their older siblings and cousins wear a pair a decade ago could finally have their own. No advertising necessary. the colors were respectful – some Women’s versions were masterpieces, while some black and white/neutral leathers the grays almost went unnoticed. In 2005, the Huarache was back on sales shelves.
Other than the ACG Theme Quick shots from 2007 and a few hideous patterned editions that were threatened but never released about a year later, the Air Huarache seemed to be dormant as its eBay value rose. Then the nasty Huarache Free appeared which scrapped the Huarache sole unit – which is half the shoe’s appeal and a revolutionary moment of exposed foam comfort – and clumsily added a Nike Free sole unit. Let’s pretend they never happened. Then, out of nowhere, in the summer of 2012, European Foot Lockers started releasing exclusives – which, in a time when we know anything a month ahead of schedule, was refreshing – and a Quick Strike of some originals colors with a pumped-up silhouette would hit retailers in early 2013, but snub Americans for some reason. Again, now kids who saw their older brothers and cousins as a couple ten years earlier could finally get their hands on some.
In the UK, the leader of the Huarache’s popularity among what is perceived as an unwelcome crowd (although no one in a brand is going to complain) is the bright-toothed British reality TV star, Joey Essex , the patron saint of Jersey undercuts Shore-esque Made in Essex. Our own situation. But while Michael Sorrento branch zig Techs, Joey’s love for the Huarache led him to release the Stüssy editions to some premiere and bring them to the tabloids. He was considered patient zero of the Huarache outbreak and hated by many for that reason. But a pious person who calls himself a “sneaker head” is far worse than any reality TV star. The truth is, the Huarache seems like the perfect shoe for skinny jeans.
After a few months, they started dropping in bigger volume. Terrible, woven toe (an affront to all that was great about Y2K) makeups fall. To this day, the shoe was popular in the UK, but never seems to be as ubiquitous as it was in 1992. Now that we have to give black and white shoes a triple prefix, staples have become superstars – the all-white and all-black editions. of AF1, AM90, BW, Superstar and Reebok Classic or Workout have been staples of pubs and streets in this country for years. They were considered the antithesis of the sought-after shoe and flouted by connoisseurs who ignorantly threw away the classist “head“poke their way.
But in the moment of a true emperor’s new clothes, the all-white and all-black became a staple, and the “Triple Black” Huarache became real resale currency when it dropped at Foot Locker the year last. Recently re-released in large numbers, even with constant restocks, it is still being resold above recommended retail price, especially to Ligue 1 football players. But in a world where most fashionable shoes can cost twice as expensive and running into the hundreds, and where most shoes are sold out the second they’re thrown into a blitz of electronic queues and jostling, the key to the ‘Triple Black Phenomenon is that it s This is a relatively affordable slice of the pie and a decent looking shoe – in black it also conceals shape changes, although it does expose the aforementioned glue stains.
Now, after being left out in the cold, America seems to be getting Huarache colors like the Scream Greens before Europe – seeing as the US gave us the shoe, that seems fair enough. In the UK we’re seeing signs of Huarache fatigue and speculation about what’s to come (the Huarache Light wasn’t the replacement everyone expected) – with Instagram and hype culture mainstreaming, l he current explosion in popularity seems amplified. So when this classic is retired for the third time, has the level of mania salted the earth for further Huarache demand growth in 2023? As long as there are kids who see siblings, celebrities and family friends wearing a pair and being told no when they ask for them, there’s a generation of potential buyers born every minute.
Not bad for a shoe that was initially scrapped because it never made its minimums.
Gary Warnett is a contributing writer for Complex and editor of Crooked Tongues. You can follow him on Twitter here.