When the Nike Foamposite One first dropped in 1997, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen before, but people wore it in some impressive performances. The sleek $180 shoe had no Nike branding on the upper, save a small Swoosh near the toe. Its synthetic upper and prominent carbon plate gave the shoe a decidedly futuristic look—one that many sneaker designers still strive to achieve.
With interest in Foams still going strong over 20 years after their launch, here are 20 things you didn’t know about the Nike Foamposite.
No one thought the Nike Air Foamposite One was possible.
Like all great sneaker stories, the naysayers were a plenty. The Foamposite’s development process took three years, so it’s probabaly not a huge surprise that everyone from designers at Nike all the way to manufacturers in China said that it couldn’t be done when the original idea was presented. “There was no brief—it was pure experimentation,” the shoe’s designer, Eric Avar, told Nike.
The Nike Air Foamposite One was not designed for Penny Hardaway.
Eric Avar didn’t design the Foamposite with Penny Hardaway in mind. If the apocryphal stories are true, it was originally intended for Scottie Pippen (no word on whether it then would have been called the “Foamposite 33”). But in a session with Penny, where he wasn’t moved by any of the other designs, he saw the Foamposite in Avar’s bag, and the rest was royal blue history.
The Nike Air Foamposite One was inspired by a beetle.
Not the Volkswagen, but the little annoyances that wander around your garage, were actually part of the inspiration for the Foamposite’s aerodynamic features.
People thought the Foamposite’s technology would ruin the footwear industry.
The design of the Foamposite was so absurd compared to the traditional usage of leather and rubber that many people actually thought Nike would ruin footwear with the design. Fast forward two decades, and now nearly everything is made out of plastic-based materials. It hasn’t seemed to keep anyone from buying sneakers yet, either.
Daewoo made the Foamposite concept happen.
A number of companies were approached by Nike with the Foamposite concept. Many of them couldn’t come up with the correct formula to make it happen, but Daewoo came through. Yep—the Korean company that makes TVs and cars was behind one of the most technologically advanced sneakers of all time.
The upper of the Foamposite begins as liquid.
If the sleek, logoless shoe itself wasn’t enough to pry your $180 (plus tax) from your wallet in 1997, maybe the “T-1000” backstory was. In order to create the Foamposite One’s seamless upper, the “foam” material started as a liquid, which was then poured into molds. How does that add up to $180? Well, the molds weren’t cheap. Read on.
Foamposite is created at a specific temperature range.
oamposite material is created at a temperature range of 130-175 degrees Fahrenheit. This poured PU is then able to create a seamless structure.
Here’s why Foamposites are so expensive.
With a $750,000 price tag on the mold alone, it’s easy to see why the price of the Foamposite is so steep—especially once the cost of labor, packaging, shipping, or marketing, and margins are added in.
The Nike Air Foamposite One’s midsole had to be five times stronger than a traditional sneaker’s.
When the Foamposite was created, the process was so different that traditional ways of manufacturing had to be revamped. In order for the molded upper to stay attached to the midsole, it had to be five times stronger than traditional glue and stitching. The development of the Foamposite helped with future technologies by pushing these limits.
The original prices of the Air Foamposite One and Foamposite Pro were different.
While the Nike Air Foamposite One retailed for $180 when it first released, the Nike Air Foamposite Pro retailed for a slightly lower $170. These days, both Foamposites Ones and Foamposite pros go for $230.
Foamposites didn’t originally sell well.
$180 prices may be commonplace now, but back in 1997, there was real sticker shock. And when you put that price tag on a brand-new technology that doesn’t even feature the usual “high-dollar” visible cues, like a Max airbag or a Jumpman, it’s a tough sell. Fortunately enough people stepped up to keep Foamposite in the line.
The NBA didn’t approve of the Nike Air Foamposite One.
When the NBA said that the original royal blue colorway wasn’t fit for the court because it didn’t have enough black to coincide with Penny’s Orland Magic uniform, he did what any sneakerhead would do—busted out the Sharpie to fix the problem. A “Sharpie” version of the Air Foamposite One later released as part of the “Penny Pack,” a two-shoe collection that also featured the Air Penny 6.
Penny Hardaway didn’t debut the Nike Air Foamposite One.
Mike Bibby first hit the court as an Arizona Wildcat wearing the Royal Foamposites on March 23 of 1997. That same day, Penny Hardaway laced up his Nike Air Penny IIs. It wouldn’t be until a few games later that Penny finally laced up the Foamposite One with his Orlando Magic uniform.
Penny Hardaway had player exclusives in 1997.
Penny Hardaway may not have been the first to wear his Foamposites in a game, and he may have never worn them in an All-Star Game or NBA Finals, but at least he was getting exclusives before anyone else. The best part is that it’s been over 20 years, and Nike still hasn’t released this “Pearl” Orlando PE.
Tim Duncan was the first player to wear Foamposites in an All-Star Game.
In a 1998 game in New York City, Tim Duncan broke out the “Pearl” Nike Foamposite Pros, while Penny Hardaway wore his then-new Nike Air Penny IIIs. Too bad this was all before the hyper-vigilant sneaker blogosphere, or else Timmy’s less-than-stylish image might have been a little different.
The Nike Air Foamposite One was limited.
In Sweden, only 150 pairs of the initial Nike Air Foamposite One were released. The hype around sneakers wasn’t as crazy back then, but Nike knew the limited numbers would help sell the wild new design.
The original Foamposite molds were destroyed.
With no thoughts of any of the Foamposite models being re-released, the original molds weren’t preserved. That proved to be costly, and probably had something to do with the price hike when Foams finally were brought back as a retro.
The phone number has been disconnected.
he Nike Air Foamposite was featured in Nike’s simple yet brilliant print ad campaign that showed shoes on a white background with a Swoosh and a 1-800 number. Tragically, the phone number has been disconnected. We were hoping to get Lil Penny on the line.
Nike’s Foamposite technology was turned into a clog.
Who turns a $180 basketball shoe into a slipper? In what has to be one of the most unexpected pieces of footwear ever created by Nike, 2000’s Clogposite was a literal takedown model of the previous year’s Air Flightposite.
The Nike Air Foamposite One was the first sneaker someone tried to trade their car for.
Crazy shit happens when the hype hits all time highs. In the middle of the madness created by 2012’s “Galaxy” Foamposite Ones, someone actually tried to trade their car—with a full tank of gas, even—for a pair of the elusive sne
source: complex.com BYRUSS BENGTSON