Few things in life are hailed as immediate classics that still hold up over time. It’s easy to call something a classic when it first drops — just look at every album release of the last decade. People get excited. Fans eat it up. Everyone soaks in the good vibes until a few weeks later when all of a sudden you realize you haven’t listen to any of the album in a minute and have no intention of doing so. More often that not, classics are ahead of their time…or at the very least need some convincing. The Nike LeBron X, for a sneaker example, didn’t receive initial positive reviews. It might seem blasphemous to say about now but it’s true. It’s only fault? It wasn’t the LeBron 9. And so people dissed it for that.
Sneakerheads are notorious for doing this. It’s not a negative thing, and I’m not trying to condemn anyone. It’s simply true. The hype draws us all in, and when you start seeing the sneaker on shelves, start seeing it on the court, start seeing other people wearing it, all of a sudden you’re like dang, I need that shoe!
The Nike Roshe Run was different, however. It resonated with the culture right away when it debuted in 2012, selling out during its first run. Designed by Dylan Raasch, the shoe was lightweight, breathable, comfortable, versatile. Even though it sported the “Run” in its name, and even if it is often categorized as a runner or trainer, it’s meant to be worn everywhere but the gym. That worked because, as Nice Kicks’ Matt Halfhill writes, in “the current time, consumers are buying many shoes that have little to no athletic benefit by the millions of units per year.”
Two years of work, along with 16 outsole revisions and 50 changes to the upper, produced a shoe that offered the blank canvas many desired. In an instant, it entered that rare category inhabited only by legendary shoes like the Nike Air Force 1, Converse Pro Leather, and adidas Stan Smith, something that was versatile and gave consumers the chance to rock it how they wanted, when they wanted. As much as I love my Jordans and my old school 1990s basketball sneakers, many of them need to coordinate with what I’m wearing. It’s hard to pull off the Air Jordan V with shorts, and many of Charles Barkley‘s best sneakers don’t work unless you’re wearing jeans.
But the Roshe Run is not only a perfect summer shoe that looks great in shorts and feels comfortable even without socks. It also looks fresh all year long and is the quintessential casual wear for 2014. Just as the Air Force 1 took over mainstream culture in the early 2000s on the backs of celebrity co-signs from people like Nelly, as well as a long and storied history, the Nike Roshe Run is doing the same thing for the new generation. (While Nelly’s “Air Force Ones” brought the shoe to the real mainstream, it had been a hot item among sneaker collectors for years.)
The Air Force 1 extended its lifeline by releasing collaborations and customs. Rasheed Wallace, the last scion of that shoe in the NBA, was consistently blessed with amazing special editions Uptowns. There were also collabs and collections that connected with the culture, such as the 2006 “Hufquakes,” the Five Boroughs pack, and the Wieden + Kennedy. Nike even had artists create their own renditions. They released shoes in all kinds of premium materials, while embracing fashion trends and fads. In the end, no matter what, despite releasing close to 2,000 different variations of the classic, they still had the white-on-whites to help make this the top-selling sneaker of all time and perhaps the greatest design ever.
It’ll be virtually impossible for the Roshe Run to reach that level of influence, even if we’ve already seen dozens of hot colorways and recent collaborations with things like The Boxtrolls. But the shoe is at least picking from the right field. It exhibits all the ingredients needed for a shoe to maintain crossover appeal for more than just a summer or two. A blank and simple canvas? Check. Lightweight breathability and comfort? Check. Versatility and the look to work with any fashion trend? Check. A manageable price? (One of the most overlooked aspects of why this shoe is so great.) Check. Unisex colorways for everyone? Check.
Ten years from now, some of the sneakers you’re rocking in 2014 might not matter, yet I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nike Roshe Run still hitting the streets, still drawing love.
BUY NOW: Nike Roshe Run best-sellers
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