Nike is one of the biggest sportswear brands that has ever roamed the earth. Since the 60s they’ve been releasing game-changing footwear that has been prominent in the fashion industry generation after generation.
However, most sneaker-lovers from today’s generation will not remember, or be aware of some of the best shoes created by this brand.
This article is going to provide you with a list of some awesome Nike vintage shoes you’ll love. Some will be available in regular stores, but you may have to do some digging to find some of the seriously vintage options on this list.
A Brief History Of Nike
Before we dive deep into the vintage shoes from Nike, let’s discuss a little bit about the brand itself.
The company was originally called ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’ and worked as a distributor for a Japanese shoe company called Onitsuka Tigers.
They would import shoes and sell them at the University of Oregon to track athletes.
Bill Bowerman, one of the founders of the company used to coach these athletes, and he came up with the idea of using a waffle iron for making shoe soles which influenced the world of shoe making.
An athlete student of Bowermans, Phil Knight, was very interested in the shoe making process, and joined Bowerman at the company as the authorized seller and distributor of ‘Blue Ribbon Sports.’
Once both men joined forces, they began to lay the foundations of Nike in Oregon and made a large profit from selling the shoes they obtained from the Japanese shoemaker.
A couple of years later, they were able to open up their first physical store in California.
They rebranded themselves as Nike which is the name of the Greek Goddess of Victory.
They were ready to launch after Bowerman’s invention of making shoe soles with an iron waffle pan, and they also created their swoosh logo.
This logo is said to represent the wing of the Goddess of Victory. By the time the 80s rolled in, Nike had dominated half of the US sports market and continued to create, advertise, and promote sports products.
These babies are very similar to what the well-known basketball player, Jason Kidd used to wear in his prime, so any Kidd fans would really love a pair of these.
They’re perfect for the outdoors, and their heels consist of Nike Air, making them super comfy!
Released in 1988, the Nike Air Force III was a very popular basketball shoe, worn by many professionals.
They are tough and resist wear and tear, making them perfect for this kind of sport.
This collaboration between Nike and LeBron James has led to the release of the LeBron 3. If you’re a fan of playing basketball outdoors, then these are for you as their rubber outsole is super thick.
The heel and forefront of the shoe are Zoom Air, and you’ll also get rope-style laces with metal tips.
The Nike Air Epics were the perfect running shoes in their time. Their suede heel counter was perforated which created a reflective group of dots. This was perfect for those who enjoy running at night, as these reflective dots provided a somewhat flash, making them visible in any dark areas.
The Air Epics made a return in 2003, 2012, and 2015, so you may be able to find a pair in some vintage stores.
These shoes were the first ever shoes designed for cross-training, making them a super iconic option on this list.
Originally created in 1987, these new babies are almost perfect, keeping all of their original features. You’ll also get to experience the exact same packaging!
Retro running shoes are a great look if you’re a fan of casual wear, and these are a wonderfully remastered version of the ones released in 1983.
However, what makes these even better than the originals is the materials used. The leather used is very thick and feels comfortable, and the suede used on the heel, eye stays, and toecap is of the highest quality.
Introduced in 1994, the introduction of these babies made many people happy. These are the only sneakers Michael Jordan wore that weren’t Air Jordans, and they definitely turned many heads when he was bouncing around on the courts.
They are supportive, comfortable, and sturdy, so if you manage to come across a pair of these, grab them before someone else does!
Known as the ultimate ‘dad shoe’, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Nike Air Monarch IVs. They’ve been designed with a full-length Air cushion, adding to this comfort and taking pressure off the feet.
While they aren’t like performance basketball shoes, they still work well if you’re a fan of playing the sport every so often.
They are totally versatile, so whether you wear them for style, comfort, or activity, you can’t go wrong with a pair of these.
What makes the Nike Air Carnivore shoes stand out from the rest is their unique laceless strap system that kind of resembles a harness!
If you’re a fan of alternative, striking shoes, then these are the ones for you. They were originally released in 1993 and then made a comeback in 2010.
They are extremely comfortable, and will definitely have you turning heads as you walk down the street.
This release of the 1988 original Air Jordans does not disappoint! They follow the original shape pretty well, along with a gorgeous outsole.
They have a pre-vintaged midsole, along with a natural-looking elephant print.
While they will feel tough at first, that’s how you know they’ve been made with good-quality leather (Also check out Is Faux Leather Waterproof?). Once you wear these enough times, they’ll be broken in and will feel incredibly comfortable.
11. Air Footscape
1995 was a great year for running shoes when it comes to Nike. The Air Footscapes were unique in their design, as they contained an asymmetrical lacing that worked well with the natural shape of the foot.
They’ve now been brought back in a woven form that adds sophistication to the shoe, making it a good option for casual wear, and not just running.
12. Waffle Racer
These are track spike shoes without the spikes, designed specifically for running.
Rumor has it that Bill Bowerman used his wife’s waffle maker in order to experiment with different traction patterns, and this is how he created the design for the waffle racer (hence the name).
These running shoes feature a minimalist design that makes them perfectly acceptable to wear in today’s fashion!
13. Nike Air Ship
Originally introduced in 1984, the Nike Air Ship was designed as a better version of the Nike Air Force 1.
The straps were gotten rid of, they added a cantilevered heel, and made a few other tweaks here and there.
Michael Jordan made his debut on the court in 84 wearing these bad boys and took the world by storm in them.
In 2020 these sneakers were released as part of the New Beginnings Pack, so if you can still find them today, you’re in luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Nike’s Most Iconic Shoe?
Many claim that the Nike Air Jordan 1 is the most iconic shoe from Nike. It was these shoes that Michael Jordan wore, and he really gave them a huge name, one that ended up becoming their own signature line and brand.
These shoes proved that footwear could be fashionable as well as functional, and allowed Michael’s personality to shine through in the design process.
What Makes Something ‘Vintage’?
The word ‘vintage’ has many interpretations, but essentially it means ‘of age.’ Therefore, when it comes to clothing, it refers to items that have not been released recently but were perhaps popular during a certain time period.
Where Can You Find Vintage Nike Shoes?
If you’d like to find some authentic, vintage Nike shoes, this may be hard to do in regular high street stores.
Your best bet is to look at online auction houses such as eBay. You may also be able to find some at Nike outlet stores, or other outlets.
Any local thrift stores may also stock some vintage Nike shoes, and if you’re lucky enough, they may have an interesting story behind them!
Nike is an iconic brand that continues to be the powerhouse when it comes to sportswear.
They have created some iconic shoes throughout the years, with several professional athletes helping to make the brand known.
The amount of vintage Nike shoes to choose from is overwhelming, to say the least, so this article has provided you with a list of some of the best ones.
Many iconic sneakers have been re-released with extra features, as you can see from this list, so you’re likely to find them in Nike stores and online outlets.