Following the Cortez was the radical Nike Sock Racer, the first Nike shoe intended to be worn without socks. The shoe had no laces and was made of a single mono-mesh. Then in 1991, Tinker Hatfield unveiled the Nike Air Huarache. Distinguished by a neoprene upper, the Air Huarache was the brand’s first running shoe without a structural heel counter–only a rubber strap came around the Achilles. The design team then set out to create a shoe inspired by elite distance runners who ran barefoot. Thus, the Nike Air Rift was created with the understanding that the toe is a significant source of propulsion.
Finally, Tobie Hatfield designed the Nike Air Presto in response to the overprotective running shoes of the 1990s. The slim design comprised a loose elastic upper and thin plastic lattice on the shoe’s sides that held the laces. “People ask me why we never made a Presto 2,” says Tobie. “I always tell them we did – it’s called the Nike Free.”
For the entire story, be sure to head on over to Nike.