Nike sneakers are for everyone, from city dwellers to hoop shooters to marathon runners. They are the guideline of the shoe racks of the world. People’s “shoeniform” of choice, if you will. And thanks to the likes of Kim Jones, Chitose Abe and the late Virgil Abloh — designers who incorporated Swoosh-adorned sneakers into their recent runway collections — the brand has finally hit the pinnacle of fashion. Consequently, bon ton now shares the same penchant for Nikes as the avid sneakerheads who have sported the label since day.
How was Nike founded?
How did we all get here? Things started when Phil Knight, a 24-year-old Stamford graduate, took a trip to Kobe, Japan in 1962. (Yes, we’re going — make yourself comfortable.) After coming across Onitsuka sneakers Tiger, Knight struck a deal with founder Mr. Onitsuka to distribute his sports-focused footwear in the United States.
Once the trainers arrived in the United States a year and a bit later (DHL wasn’t founded until 1969, in case you were wondering), Knight sent two pairs to his former trainer of athletics, Bill Bowerman. The young entrepreneur was hoping that Bowerman — a sort of father figure to him — could help whip up a few pairs of low-cost shoes. Much to his delight, Bowerman not only wanted to support his business, but he also wanted to become his business partner. Thus, on January 25, 1964, Blue Ribbon Sports was born.
Throughout his tenure at the University of Oregon, Bowerman would build and modify running shoes for his athletes; adjustment for things like cushioning, energy return and breathability. It wasn’t long before he began experimenting with the pre-existing Onitsuka Tiger training shoes, pairing them with new outsoles, midsoles, toe caps and lacing systems to create never-before-seen designs. Eventually, Bowerman invented a prototype that was superior to any offerings from the Japanese label. After much deliberation, Bowerman named his creation the Cortez.
In August 1966 Onitsuka Tiger agreed to start producing pairs of Cortez and two years later the shoe became a best seller for both brands. Athletes and trendsetters wanted the silhouette – a testament to Bowerman’s talent for designing shoes that were as comfortable as they were beautiful. Money was pouring in and Blue Ribbon Sports continued to grow, but soon there were problems in paradise.
After many disagreements, Blue Ribbon Sports and Onitsuka Tiger decided to go their separate ways in 1971. After the breakup, Bowerman, Knight and co did what most new singles do – they switched brands. The new name, Nike, has its genesis in one of a new employee’s dreams in which he encountered the nickname of the Greek goddess of victory. The logo was designed by Carolyn Davidson, a student and illustrator at Portland State University, for just $35. (Don’t worry, Davidson received 500 Nike shares just over a decade later.) Equipped with all the tools necessary to renew its identity, Blue Ribbon Sports officially became Nike, Inc., and the rest, as they say, is story – story you can read about in Phil Knight’s acclaimed novel, Shoe Dog.
What are the best Nike shoes you can buy?
Now, without further ado, let’s continue with the objective of this article. From the best Nike running shoes and trail running shoes to the Nike sneakers you’ll see in many fashion week street style galleries, allow us to bring you the 12 best Nike sneakers for men in 2022: