Nike Foamposite Shoes
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What if you could just dip your foot into a vat of liquid and have your shoe mold to your feet?
That was the exact vision that Eric Avar and his design team dreamed up while thinking of a new way to design and construct a basketball shoe in the mid-1990s. The result? The Nike Air Foamposite One that originally dropped in 1997.
And while it’s historically linked to Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, it was only by chance that he ever became aware of the shoe in the first place.
As Avar tells it, the Nike design team was on a routine visit to Hardaway to discuss his signature line at the time, and Hardaway happened to notice the prototype of the Foamposite One leftover in Avar’s bag. Hardaway fell in love with it immediately.
From Korea with love
Meanwhile, the design team was experimenting with different ways to manufacture the innovative upper. Only Daewoo, the Korean manufacturer of automobiles and TVs, could sufficiently master the process. That included heating polyurethane up to 175 degrees to create a liquid that would be molded, as well as an inner core for comfort.
The Foam One does not feature the Nike Swoosh – that one can be seen on the Nike Air Foamposite Pro – but did come to feature Penny’s “1 Cent” logo on the heel.
The Foam One and Foam Pro were virtually identical outside of the Swoosh mark. Both featured a soft upper encased in its polyurethane shell, complete with pull loops on the tongue and heel. Both included a carbon fiber shank plate, as well as an outsole that could be made of a translucent “frosty” rubber or gum rubber. Full-length, low-profile Zoom Air cushioned it all.
The skin’s the thing
The Foamposite One actually debuted on the college courts, when Arizona guard Mike Bibby first wore the now-iconic ‘Royal’ colorway in games. Penny was still wearing his signature Air Penny II but did lace up some Foams a few days later. Tim Duncan debuted the Foamposite Pro in a Pearl colorway during the following season’s all-star game. And the colors just kept coming.
With no overlays to dictate design, Nike Foamposites could take on virtually any look. And over the years, they have.
Perhaps the most popular grail in any sneaker lover’s closet – or display case – is the ‘Galaxy’ Foamposite released around the NBA All-Star break in February 2012. The spacy purple hue of the upper – officially Obsidian/Anthracite/Black – has turned heads ever since and is no stranger to swaps at sneaker shows.
But other colorways have carved out a place in sneaker legend – the ‘Dr. Doom’ Black/White that released in June 2006, the shimmering ‘Eggplant’ Black/Varsity Purple from February 2009, and gleaming ‘Copper’ Black/Metallic Copper from February 2010 among them.