Size and fit

The flexible upper of the low-top Nike Air Presto accommodate various foot shapes. As mentioned, there is adequate room in the toe box for the toes to splay while the low-cut construction ensures unrestricted ankle movement. 

Support from the midfoot cage keeps the foot in place, particularly for those who wish to take advantage of the Presto’s versatility as a running shoe. The stretch mesh material that covers the upper is said to offer better ventilation than the neoprene on another foot-hugging Nike sneaker, the Air Huarache. 

Nike Air Presto Style

The contemporary look of the low-top Nike Air Presto appeals to the current generation. However, as it is still remarkably a lovely throwback to its original version, those who fell in love with the earliest models should have no qualms sporting these kicks on various occasions and different terrains. The sporty vibe of the shoe makes it extremely comfortable when taking the streets for a run or for just simply going about the city.

  Nike Air Presto styles for women

There are tons of different colors available in women’s sizes. Some of the colorways that offer a feminine flair are the Nike Air Presto in Pink, Total Orange, White, and Light Silver. You may blend these kicks with capris, treggings, printed dresses, and summer skirts for a sporty casual get up a la Jennifer Lopez, model Hailey Baldwin, actress Hillary Duff, or singer-songwriter Halsey.

Among the much sought after hues which you can mix and match with a hodgepodge of activewear from yoga pants and tracksuits to leggings and gym shorts are the wine-colored Bordeaux, the ever-neutral black shade and the Nike Air Presto in a military-inspired olive green hue. These styles also blend with woolen top and leather jackets if you are aiming for that chic, sporty look.

  Nike Air Presto styling for men

Athletes like LeBron James, Wayne Rooney, and Cristiano Ronaldo are some of those who were spotted sporting these kicks. The black version of the Nike Air Presto men’s sneakers easily gets the nod from the male force as the silhouette can be paired with pin-rolled selvage jeans, athletic shirts, jackets, and track pants.

To make your sneaker pop, it is advisable to maintain a good mix of contrasting colors throughout your outfit. You can always have these with low-ankle socks and cuffed trousers to achieve that extra pizzazz you are targeting for.

Notable Features

There are two features that clearly jump out of the Nike Air Presto through its various iterations over the years. One very apparent element of this shoe is the molded midfoot cage. Initially, this aspect of the Air Presto was created to deliver exceptional midfoot hold for those who love to run. Although this caging system continues to provide the same kind of performance, such feature also gives this trendy shoe a very distinctive style.

After nearly two decades since its introduction, this midfoot cage has been at the forefront in the shoe’s history. It remains, to this day, a key asset that diehard fans of this shoe have come to love.

The second noticeable asset of this shoe is the mesh upper. Nike’s tactic in delivering superior comfort from a shoe that allows the foot to move freely starts with a flexible and ultra-comfortable mesh upper. Again, this is a technology that continues to be the main selling point of the Nike Presto after so many years. Although Nike now offers the shoe in usual sizes, instead of the S, M, L, and XL of the original, the upper still provokes as a “T-Shirt for the feet” experience.

Nike Air Presto History

Nike introduced the Air Presto to the world during the 2000 Sydney Olympics with the intention to provide consumers a featherweight shoe that offers a barefoot feel. As the brainchild of some of Nike’s most innovative and creative talents Kevin Hoffer, Tobie Hatfield, and Bob Mervar, the shoe turned out to be a unique and highly-advanced concept when it was unveiled to the public.

The idea behind the construction of the shoe was the “T-shirt for the feet” theme. Nike stayed consistent with the T-shirt concept as the sizing for the first Prestos went from XXXS to XXXL instead of the usual numeric measurements.

  Innovation story of the Nike Air Presto

The idea of the Air Presto was conceived as far back as 1996 through the initiative of then Nike’s footwear developer Tobie Hatfield. The form and concept of the prototype meant to provide a paramount fit with comfort that’s similar to what one gets from a pair of slippers.

From the objective of producing a performance shoe with unparalleled comfort and fit, Hatfield conjured up the Nike Air Presto that featured what he called a V-notch or a hollowed out V-shaped section from the ankle down to the midsole. Apart from easy heel fit, the carved-out feature meant to reduce tension in the collar area.

Two years after, Hatfield teamed up with other Nike designers and fetched an updated look of the earlier profile. The 1998 version was named the Nike Air Gauntlet which retained the unique V-notch with the addition of a single sheet of stretch mesh towards the front of the shoe and a rear side clip that granted an individualized fit. The blend of these elements gave the feet the freedom to move in a more natural gait. 

The 1996 Nike Air Presto evolved as the Swoosh brand devised another running shoe model in 1998 which is labeled as the Nike Air Zoom Drive. This kick eliminated the cored out section of the collar found in the previous design, while the entire upper was draped using a stretch mesh.

The heel clip found in the Gauntlet was utilized too, but this time it is fixed firmly. This shoe was loaded with tech features, including the integration of the visible Zoom Air cushioning unit that granted users a responsive ride.

  First set of Nike Air Presto shoes

Four years after the prototype was created, the Nike Air Presto shoes reappeared with a highly breathable spacer mesh. The cover is also ultra-flexible as it stretches in all directions, a solution that Hatfield and other genius designers brought to the table that delivered a comfortable fit. The upper had the same comfort benefit as the V-notch element found in the prototype shoe without sacrificing its overall aesthetics.

For the first time in the history of sneakers, different colorways of a specific shoe were given a special name to grant substance and character to each of those variations. Thus, back then, the Nike Air Presto pack, which debuted in 13 vivid and highly-symbolic color variations, were christened as Presto Bill, Unholy Cumulus, Catfight Shiner, Trouble at Home, Abdominal Snowman, Brutal Honey, Rogue Kielbasas, Migraine Fly, Jack Mackerel, Rabid Panda, Orange Monk, Shady Milkman and a 13th model which surprisingly never got a name.

  Updates on the Air Presto sneakers

The original and cheeky naming system quickly caught fire. Before long, the Nike Air Presto became the symbol of being cool and sophisticated for thousands of people. From there, the shoe received minor modifications, including the introduction of the mid-top variations.

This running-inspired sneaker also became the subject of several collaborations with some of the industry’s most famous designers. In 2017, the Swoosh label hooked up with Virgil Abloh for the drop of the Off-White Nike Air Presto, baring a style that quickly makes it a statement sneaker. Abloh’s trademark “AIR” detailing is displayed on the rear strap, and the traditional Off White tag is hooked through the lace.

A year later, Nike teamed up with tech brand and independent design agency Acronym for the launch of the Acronym x Nike Air Presto Mid. The extended ankle collar and zip feature gave this silhouette a technical modification. Instead of the usual black and white hues associated with cybergoth streetwear sneakers, this kick is splashed with sunny and intense color palettes, specifically Racer Pink/Photo Blue-White-Black, White/Black-Volt, and Grey/Black-White.

There’s just no denying to the attractiveness of this versatile sneaker. The fact that every re-release of the original colorways and drop of remastered designs are very much sought after is a testament to the shoe’s enduring popularity.

Nice to know

  • Some of the celebrities seen sporting these kicks are AJ Green, Spike Lee, Drake, and Chainz.
  • Nike uses a midfoot cage to provide lockdown feel as the upper is virtually free of any overlays.
  • Spanning the entire midsole is the frequently used Phylon foam for lightweight cushioning.
  • Made of compressed EVA foam pellets, Phylon has been lauded for its lightness and resiliency.
  • Nike ramps up the comfort level of the Air Presto by using adequate padding in the ankle collar and tongue.


The current trend of Nike Air Presto.
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Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny is a sports nut with a particular interest in football and running. He loves to watch sports as much as he loves to play. Danny was lead researcher on RunRepeat and The PFA’s report into Racial Bias in Football Commentary. His football and running research has been featured in The Guardian, BBC, New York Times and Washington Post.