The Swoosh: Signs of the Times

EDITOR’S NOTE: Writer Toby Amigo takes a look at the Nike’s past, present and future through all of the company’s ground breaking innovations this 2017. 

Innovation is the name of the game.

From Bill Bowerman’s ingenious waffle iron soles to the revolutionary air cushioning of the Nike Air, Nike continuously challenges the perceived possibilities of sportswear. Its past, present, and future have been driven by day-in and day-out development.

And in 2017, that couldn’t be clearer.

In October we reveled in the past, celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Air Force 1—a pair of kicks that transcended the hardwood and cemented itself into street culture. The AF1s intertwined with what we loved most about sports, music, art, fashion, and the city. A ubiquitous icon for an entire generation. So Nike collaborated with five iconoclasts—Don C, Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Errolson Hugh, Travis Scott, Virgil Abloh—to create limited edition Air Force 1s that captured each of their personalities and how the shoe resonated with them.

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Locally, Nike teamed up with Titan to create the Titan x Nike Pop-Up Space. A haven for basketball junkies and sneaker heads. The space was also a platform to salute the Air Force 1s and announce Battle Force Manila, a playground that celebrated basketball, hip-hop, and everything the AF1s stood for. The boldest talents in the country left it all on the Titan Love Court, stunting in electrifying tournaments of street ball, slam dunk contests, 3-point competitions, rap battles and dance-offs.

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If the Air Force 1s are a testament to Nike’s storied past, the LeBron 15 and the Jordan XXXII are reinventing the present—crowning achievements worthy of The King and The Greatest.

First up, the Lebron 15s. Constructed with the groundbreaking material aptly called ‘Battleknit’—take the aesthetic of the Flyknit and reinforce it to support the explosive athleticism of the best player on the planet—this isn’t just a shoe. It’s chainmail for the fiercest of competitors.

The 15s also boast of an entirely brand new tooling, best described as a dynamic combo of the AirMax’s protection and the Zoom Air’s quick response feel. Think of every time LeBron skyrockets for the rebound, then careens down the court like a freight train a split-second later. The human body was never designed to move like that. The LeBron 15 was.

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Much like their respective games, while one shoe screams boundless power, the other exudes undeniable finesse.

The Jordan XXXIIs are a second coming. Often cited as the modern reincarnation of the IIs that came out thirty years ago, the XXXIIs take the luxurious Italian style of its predecessor and update it with the latest advancements in shoe technology.

Featuring a first-of-its-kind Flyknit upper composed of high-tenacity yarns, the shoe offers more flexibility and comfort than any Jordan shoe before it. The latest in FlightSpeed technology improves the legendary cushioning of the XXVIII—a mix of a big forefoot Nike Zoom Air bag, a Flight plate, and a heel Zoom—giving players a more explosive step. Together with a herringbone traction pattern and a stylized, supportive collar, the Jordan XXXIIs, just like Mike, stand on the pinnacle of the game.

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For any other company, these breakthroughs would’ve made for a banner year. Not for Nike. Not without looking to the future. They took a look at Manila, the social media capital of the world populated by rabid, die-hard basketball fans in every square meter, and did what they did best—they changed the game.

The Nike Hyper Courts are a world exclusive. The only court to seamlessly blend the real with the digital, the heart with the mind. In five courts across Metro Manila, any basketball player can turn up, connect to the court, and gain free access to custom content, powered by Google technology, designed to elevate and develop that specific player’s skills.

Players can select from an array of video drills and skills training focusing on different fundamentals like power, versatility, and quickness—tailored to NBA Champions LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving respectively. But beyond all that, the courts are dope as hell.

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These are just a handful of examples that demonstrate Nike’s never-ending commitment to innovation. Like a runner sprinting through an oval track, improving each day by a fraction of a millisecond, you can count on Nike to improve the way we play the game. Their 2017 was unbelievable. Chances are you won’t believe what they do in 2018, either.