The Evolution of Swoosh's Zoom Air Category

A lesson on the Nike technology.

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Footwear
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“Air” technology is synonymous with sneaker culture, and its innovators, Nike. From several innovative iterations of how air is utilized for function and performance, an integral pillar of this technology is the Nike Zoom Air – a concept that first took the industry in 1995. Originally dubbed “Tensile Air,” later to be coined “Zoom Air” after its debut, the technology was developed as an ultra-responsive solution for athletes, offering a lining of cushioning that made the shoe flexible for all terrain, from road and track to court and field.

The face of this new feat of engineering was the Nike Air Zoom LWP (Lightweight Performance), which showcased the technology with a number of new and surprising details introduced to the scene: textile lace loops, low-profile cushioning and a design that promoted toe propulsion while maintaining the more traditional Air function at the heel for shock absorption. A year later we saw the Nike Air Zoom Alpha that introduced four anatomically-positioned pods into the Zoom Air sole unit, which stretched the cushioning from toe to heel.

To follow was the Nike Air Zoom Spiridon, released in 1997. The Spiridon was actually a silhouette originally offered back in 1984, but the new Air Zoom version saw the employment of a Phylon midsole, Duralon forefoot and the same podular bottom-load as the Air Zoom Alpha. The new Spiridon’s pièce de résistance however was its mesh upper, a first of its kind for Nike. In the same year, and to the same cult-like reception as the Spiridon, the Nike Air Zoom Talaria was born. Designed by Tinker and his team, the Talaria — named after the Mythical Greek messenger for the God’s winged sandals. The shoe’s initial reception came from the premier of the new silhouette, which saw the midsole meld like one into the upper which was made up of a mix of mesh and synthetic suede, and exposed flex grooves in the forefoot. The look was like nothing before it, a sleek yet bold running tool made for everyone to be used anywhere.

The Zoom Air technology continued to evolve and grow over the years, but it was in 1999 that the pockets of air saw the light of day in an exposed rear and forefoot unit found on the 1999 released Nike Air Zoom Citizen. Another milestone in the Zoom Air offerings was the evolved Spiridon for 2003, which brought forward for the first time a caged iteration of the Air Zoom unit. The rendition supported an oversized visible heel unit encased in a Pebax cage. This was exaggerated further in Spiridon’s 2005 version.

Over the years and after a slew of other iterations, renditions, versions or whatever other likeminded noun, the Nike Zoom Air technology continues to maintain its stronghold on the sports footwear realm, especially with recent releases like this past March’s NikeLab Air Zoom Talaria. At first glance, the model represents a clone of it’s original 1997 version, save for a few updates as to be expected by Nike. With the majority of its make up paying homage to the original, this year’s Talaria comes with modern materials in the midsole and sockliner, and ripstop with rugged woven overlays in the upper, and lastly a leather collar as the cherry. Additionally, NikeLab’s Talaria comes in Black and Ocean Fog, as well as the original Volt colorway.

But that’s all in the past. Let us know what Nike Air Zoom silhouette you’d like to see make a comeback and how in the comment section below.

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