Nike Air Trainer 1 History
Following the running boom in the 1970s that started in the US, the 1980s saw a huge development towards fitness, recreational exercises, and various sports-related activities that was ignited by the craze over aerobics at the start of that era. Suddenly people are involved in multiple sports and the demand for athletic equipment skyrocketed.
Nike responded by coming out with a never before seen high performance sneaker with multipurpose abilities, the Air Trainer 1, globally introduced in 1987.
Architect-turned-footwear designer Tinker Hatfield was barely new working with Nike’s shoe design department when he thought of the concept of the Air Trainer, which was initially intended for on court games and gym workouts. This generic sounding sneaker turned out to be one of the revolutionary products of Nike, which is an amalgamation of basketball, running, weightlifting, and aerobics shoes rolled into one sneaker.
The shoe was constructed using lightweight Air bladder in the midsole to provide the needed cushioning similar to running shoes. The lateral outrigger that gradually protrudes offers a broad platform for improved support and stability, which is an important aspect in a basketball shoe. The prominent foot-securing strap across the midfoot offers a lockdown fit.
The prototype was ready by 1986 and little did Hatfield knew, this shoe managed to sneak into the court when pro tennis player John McEnroe returned to the game that year wearing this multi-performance model. Primarily, McEnroe, a very outspoken and controversial player at that time, requested for performance shoe options from Nike for his court games.
Nike sent him a batch of sneakers and prototypes, but the Air Trainer 1 model immediately got McEnroe’s attention. This mid-cut sneaker gave him all the support and stability he needed in order to focus more on the game. He managed to slip into the court wearing the prototype version of what came to be one of the most innovative equipment by Nike, more particularly by Hatfield.
McEnroe won two tournaments wearing the said sample sneaker made of premium leather and gray suede, even in defiance of Nike’s instruction not to sport the prototype during competitions. This was disclosed in the press statements released by the brand. It was later known that McEnroe, who made the Air Trainer 1 famous, eventually received two other alternate editions, which had outsoles specifically meant for grass and clay courts.
1987 came and the Air Trainer 1 was officially launched in Chlorophyll colorway and notable elements. This includes premium uppers, rubber outsole, and Air sole unit in the midsole, and most of all, its famous adjustable midfoot strap which was later seen in almost every cross-training shoes following the drop of this icon.