The Nike Blazer is one of the oldest sneakers in Nike history
The Truth Is Out There
Numerous transport vehicles departed from Nike Beaverton, Oregon HQ in the summer of 1985, carrying special product shipments headed to multiple locations across the US. Unfortunately, a few of the shipments never made it to their destination. These vehicles all had one thing in common,they were last seen on security cameras passing through Hawkins, Indiana. Nike, concerned and bewildered, never mentioned these missing shipments to anyone for fear that something supernatural was at play,” states Nike’s reveal of the collection, adding that “34 years later, signs of the missing shipments are popping up, piece by piece, and it’s clear that there is something deeper, darker and more evil brewing. Miraculously Nike has somehow had been able to locate some of the missing shipped kicks. Revealing only that they contained “iconic Nike styles: the Cortez, Blazer and Air Tailwind 79” that were meant to be used in class at Hawkins High School.
Nike Blazer Shoe Is A True Classic
The Nike Blazer is one of the oldest sneakers in Nike shoes history category and shoes catalog . First designed as a basketball shoe back in 1973 and worn by the likes of George Gervin, the Blazer has gone on to be adapted as a popular sneaker for casual lifestyle wear and even for skateboarding. This mid-cut silhouette, praised for its simplicity, has been featured in some of the best collaborations in history, including designs by streetwear brands Supreme, Off-White, and Stussy.
A Nostalgic Look Back In To the Past
In 1985, Nike began creating its visible Air designs, which was released two years later, as well as the emerging of the iconic Dunk silhouette.
The Nike Blazer was first released in 1973 as Nike’s best basketball
sneaker, a far cry from how we think of it today. The brand was only
nine years old at the time, a young upstart still finding its way
through the industry, and for most of that time they weren’t even known
as “Nike.” Blue Ribbon Sports was founded in 1964 by Bill Bowerman and
Phil Knight as an organization to distribute Japanese footwear in the
US, but it wasn’t until 1971, with the design of the famous Swoosh (by
graphic design student Carolyn Davidson) that they’d be known as Nike and begin creating its own shoes.
Two years after Nike was founded, they took that now famous swoosh
and plastered it on a plain white shoe, creating a sneaker that was as
much a logo as anything else. It’s a simple shoe to this day, beloved
for its simplicity, but in 1973 there were still a lot of technological
advances to come in the world of footwear that would quickly swallow the
The shoe featured a leather upper, a mesh nylon tongue and a textured
vulcanized rubber sole—the preferred sole for basketball sneakers in
the early 1970s. In fact, each of these elements were the best
technology available for shoes on the court. It’s easy to forget,
looking back from 2017, that the ‘70s were the early days of sneakers.
Before the ‘60s and ‘70s, sneakers were merely rubber soled shoes used
for athletics and nothing else. It was Bowerman who first put real
brainpower into developing footwear that would support athletes in
effective ways to change their game. Nike became the epicenter of that
investigation. Even after the debut of the Blazer it would still be five
years before Nike first injected air into its soles with the Nike
Tailwind, and 12 years before they signed Michael Jordan
to be the frontman of its basketball business. Nike as we know it today
did not exist beyond the founders and a few running shoes that are
still in rotation, but the Blazer is an icon from that moment and has
survived the progress of time. For most silhouettes that have lasted
almost as long as the Blazer, they’ve done so by changing with the
times. But the Blazer hasn’t changed, instead its community has changed
George Iceman Gervin playing in the Nike Blazer
It’s only fitting that Nike’s first significant basketball sneaker
would be named after the local basketball team, the Portland Trail
Blazers. But it was George “The Iceman” Gervin (notably of the San
Antonio Spurs) who was first to wear the shoe. “Nike was very
innovative…Nike was thinking out of the box back in the ‘70s,” Gervin says. “When I first joined the NBA I used to wear adidas
and then Nike came on board and Nike approached me and wanted to give
me much more money and they had a better quality shoe, I thought. So, I
went with Nike through the rest of my career.” For Nike, its partnership
with Gervin was all about branding. It was no coincidence that they
were new to the industry and designed a sneaker dominated by its logo.
Then it found one of the most notorious players in the game, with a
nickname for his cool attitude on court and an incredible track record
as a shooting guard. The cameras were pointed at Gervin every game, and
whenever those cameras caught his feet they found huge Nike swooshes.
Every photograph became an advertisement.
As his professional career continued, Gervin’s relationship with Nike
grew right alongside it, culminating in a uniquely custom Blazer style.
What modern sneaker fans would dub a “player exclusive” this Blazer
model had “ICEMAN” emblazoned across the heel where “NIKE” usually sat.
Player exclusives are one-off colorways or renditions created for
players by the brands and are frequently used today to build hype around
silhouettes, test colorways, and as a public expression of a brand’s
commitment to the player. But back in the 1970s PEs were so rare that
the Gervin Blazer PEs may very well be the first PE sneaker ever made.
The industry was so new at that point that lines between general
releases and PEs were not as clear as they are today. What we do know is
the ICEMAN PE was never made available to the public and stands as a
crucial moment to help define how brands and players interact.
Soon after the Blazer was introduced, Nike put its focus into
developing its AIR program, and basketball technology took off. As all
the best athletic minds took to expanding the possibilities for
basketball sneakers, heavy leathers, fragile meshes, and hard vulcanized
rubber soles got left behind one by one. In just a few short years the
Blazer was far from the best of what Nike had to offer and the sneaker
fell out of favor with basketball players. But the sole that was once
designed for traction on court was quickly recognized by skateboarders
for having amazing traction on their grip tape. The heavy leather and
suede uppers stood up against the beatings skaters wrought against them.
The mesh tongue wasn’t ideal – skaters prefer a little more cushion in
the tongue – but Nike would solve that soon enough. As basketball
players left the Blazer behind, skaters took ownership of the sneaker
and it found a second life that would ultimately save the silhouette
from ever going out of style.
Nike Blazer Suede Futura
The Blazer continued to survive as a low budget sneaker. It was light
on aesthetics and easy to wear for fans of the classic look. Plus it
was an inexpensive purchase for skaters who wanted to beat them up.
In 2003, street artist Futura 2000 used the opportunity of a Nike collaboration
to bring his own take to the budget sneaker. Their collaborative effort
that featured a blend of olive, tan, and navy suedes, and released only
1000 pairs, making them immediately rare and collectable. Although the
Futura collaboration would raise the profile of the Blazer, it wasn’t
until a few years later that the Blazer finally caught a glimpse of
glory on par with The Iceman’s debut.
The shoe was officially considered a basketball sneaker by Nike, albeit a low tech one, until 2005 when pro skateboarder Lance Mountain
announced the development of Blazer SB for Nike, adding padding to the
tongue and bringing Nike Air into the sneaker for the first time. The
Air appeared as a pair of Air Zoom insoles, meaning that the bulk of the
sneaker remained intact, but the comfort was dialed up. These minor
tweaks made the shoe officially a skate shoe, and set the stage for the
Blazer to transform. And not a moment too soon. In 2006, when the Blazer
celebrated its 33rd birthday, the shoe got an entirely new identity.
Nike Blazer SB Supreme Supreme 2006
Everything that happened to the Blazer before 2006 was well earned
history, solidifying the Blazer as one of the most long lasting
silhouettes of all time. But it was in 2006 when iconic skate brand Supreme collaborated with Nike
on a trio of Blazers that elevated the classic silhouette to one of the
most sought after sneakers in the world. Supreme released three quilted
Blazers with Nike, in black, white, and red, each with faux snake skin
swooshes, and Gucci inspired ribbons up the heels that held golden
D-rings. The shoes retailed for a whopping $180 (three times what some
Blazer SBs go for), and although they weren’t an overnight success, as
the years have gone by that release is regarded as a tipping point. To
this day, the 2006 Supreme Blazers are considered by many to be the high
watermark for brand collaborations, and (in the view of some) the best
Nike collaboration Supreme has ever made. Unworn pairs are rare to come
by, and even worn pairs fetch four figure prices. On the continuum of
sneaker sales they’re nowhere near the highest (the first adidas Yeezys
easily sells for over $3k), but the 2006 Supreme Blazers live outside of
the typical hype machine, recognized by serious collectors and
long-time fans as a legitimizing pair for anyone lucky enough to have
them in their collection.
It is without hesitation that we can say it was this 2006
collaboration that brought the Blazer to a level that would clear space
for following collaborations with brands including the likes of Comme
des Garcons, Fragment, and the upcoming collection with Virgil Abloh’s
Fragment Design x Nike Blazer Low SP 2014
The CDG Blazers dropped in 2013
as suede lows and were an official release with the diffusion brand
BLACK COMME des GARCONS. The sneakers were, naturally, colored black,
featuring suede uppers with leather swooshes, heel ribbons, and heel
panels. The “NIKE” at the heel was replaced with “CDG” much like on the
ICEMAN PEs. In 2014, they followed up with a similarly colored version
of the Blazer High, and then in 2016 released a high and a low in black,
but this time in all leather (plus a white mudguard to break up the
darkness a little bit). The simplicity of the sneakers paired with the
diffusion line may explain why these shoes are still pretty easy to come
by, but as an elevated, go-anywhere sneaker you can’t get much better.
Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Tokyo based Fragment Design took on the Blazer in 2014
with a pair of lows in beige suede. Fragment’s signature light touch
made for a pretty unremarkable design, but still created a classic look
that fits well with the Blazer’s original styling. The shoes featured
tiny Fragment logos at the heels and were only available at Fragment’s
In 2016, Supreme followed up the famous 2006 collaborative Blazer trio with another threesome, this time on the low GT silhouette in pink, beige, and blue suedes.
The sneakers sat on gum soles, featured tonal leather swooshes, and
debossed gold box logos at the heel. On the back, “NIKE” was replaced by
“FTW,” which was never explained but without a doubt stands for “For
If the 2006 Supreme Blazers set the new benchmark for the sneaker,
2017’s Off-White collaboration is about to raise the level again. Virgil Abloh’s “The Ten” collection
features a dizzying array of sneakers in two sub-groups, Ghosting and
Revealing, the latter being the collection the Blazer falls under. Like
the rest of the collection, there’s a lot happening on the Off-White
Blazer, but unlike the other sneakers in the collection (save maybe the
Chuck Taylor), there’s very little to work with. A massive part of the
Blazer’s identity is the simplicity of design. Each sneaker in the
collection has been completely reworked by Abloh and when it comes to
the Blazer there’s not a lot to do. That also means that every change
Abloh applies has a much larger impact.
Like others in the Revealing collection, the majority of the upper is
dominated by the underside of traditional upper materials. We see
stitching and industrial printing that would otherwise be hidden under
layers of leather and suede. The massive swoosh is made even bigger on
Abloh’s version, extending from the heel over the heightened vulcanized
sole. Bone colored suede provides a base for the eyelets and appears on
the heel, while white leather wraps around the throat of the shoes. The
tongue maintains the same mesh as came on the original design, with the
Nike tag on the lateral side of the shoe rather than the top of the
tongue. “Shoelaces” printed shoelaces, like the rest of the collection,
finish out the sneaker. We’ve discussed Abloh’s idea of conceptual
deconstruction, and this take on the Blazer is exactly that. It blows
apart the disparate elements that have made the sneaker what it is,
forcing us to examine this classic sneaker for its pieces, while
understanding that it’s not just the pieces of leather and suede and
rubber that makes the shoe. Instead it’s how we read how those pieces
come together. They force us to reevaluate what each element of the shoe
means, and if it actually means anything in a vacuum, or if the meaning
of the shoe is less its constituent elements and more how we
reconstruct it with our community.
Few shoes have gone through the social evolution like the Blazer has,
with multiple communities adopting the simple shoe allowing it to have a
shelf life longer than almost any other sneaker in the game. It
appeared at a time that should have forced it to be forgotten as much
more advanced sneakers came quickly after it. But somehow, either thanks
to its simplicity, brand awareness, or by pure circumstance, the Blazer
continues on. And if it gets treatments like that with Supreme and
Off-White, we may see another 40 years of the Blazer to come.
Off-White x Nike Blazer
Nike’s Blazer Mid ’77 Goes Pacific Blue Joining the Lucid Green Coloway.
Nike’s Blazer Mid ‘77 Released 2019 In “Pacific Blue.”
The 1977 version of the Nike Blazer differs from the original ‘72 model as it features a slimmer profile and the addition of guards wrapping around the toe and midfoot. Here, the retro’d sneaker comes in an old school-inspired colorway of white and “Pacific Blue sneaker.
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