nike delivers on 80s dreams with air soles and self-lacing sneakers

At Nike's 2016 Innovation Summit, technology met old-school dreams.

by Hannah Ongley
17 March 2016, 7:00pm


When Nike debuted the original Nike Air Max sneaker in 1987, it came with a window into the Air-cushion embedded in the sole — and into a future where walking on air was not just a dumb dream. When Back to the Future II introduced the idea of self-lacing Nike Air Mag sneakers just two years later, Nike probably hadn't even started drafting blueprints for what would become the most talked about shoe in pop culture ever. But it made the brand synonymous with wild sneakerhead fantasies. 

At Nike's 2016 summit yesterday, the brand finally delivered on two things 80s kids have been anticipating for almost 30 years. "Innovation at Nike is not about dreaming of tomorrow. It's about accelerating toward it," said designer Tinker Hatfield shortly before unveiling the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0 — the first performance shoe featuring Nike's adaptive lacing. Or in other words, the first shoppable self-lacing sneaker. While Nike created an IRL version of the Air Mag last year, they were never intended to actually reach the feet of plebeians like you and I. The new HyperAdapt auto-closes when your heel hits a sensor and can then be adjusted using buttons on the shoe's exterior. It will be available to Nike+ users beginning later this year. 

The other announcement that sent sneakerheads into overdrive was the Nike Air VaporMax. The sneaker is the result of three decades spent refining the technology that gave us the first Air Max in 87, finally allowing mere mortals the experience of walking on air. While previous incarnations of the Nike Air had to be insulated by a secondary rubber layer, the new design allows the Air unit to act as a standalone outsole. It also just looks genuinely sick. 

Other cool updates include a new Lunar Epic Flyknit running shoe and a soccer shoe (the Mercurial Superfly V) that literally repels dirt. "We're at the dawn of a new era," said Nike CEO Mark Parker. It might even be worth the 30-year wait. 


Text Hannah Ongley
Images courtesy of Nike

wearable tech
innovation summit