The Nike Air Presto has been a favorite among sneakerheads since its debut in 2000 due to its striking initial advertising campaign, alpha sizing, and revolutionary sock-like construction. The Air Presto was born out of Nike’s since-disbanded Alpha Project, a sneaker think tank designed to identify and solve product performance problems with input from the athlete.
Fast forward nearly two decades and the Presto has assumed many forms, some obscure, some hugely successful. Now, with Nike having launched its latest evolution of the Presto, the React Presto, featuring the Swoosh’s next-gen React cushioning tech, we take a look at some of the wildest and best Air Prestos over the years.
Nike Air Presto Cage (2001)
When the Air Presto Cage came out in 2001, it eliminated the laces from the original, instead extending the TPU cage across the forefoot for a caged slip-on design. It was originally designed for basketball post-game wear, hugging the foot for a quick recovery.
Nike Air Presto Chanjo (2001)
The Air Presto Chanjo took things a step further than the Cage, eliminating both the laces and the cage for a truly slip-on Presto experience. All that was left of the original design was the midsole and a mesh and neoprene upper.
Nike Air Presto Tremble (2001)
It seems 2001 was the year of the slip-on in Beaverton. Like the Faze, the Air Presto Tremble also featured a slip-on design with a TPU cage that extended across the forefoot and around the heel, but the Tremble also featured a visible Air unit in the heel and a thicker midsole.
Nike Air Presto Faze (2001)
The third Air Presto to go laceless in 2001, the Air Presto Faze went for a TPU cage like the Air Presto Cage, except this one covered more of the forefoot and also extended around the heel for a lockdown effect.
Nike Air Presto Gym (2002)
The stated purpose of the Air Presto Gym should be obvious by the name. The sneaker featured a reinforced upper that extended higher up the ankle than previous designs. The TPU eye stay was redesigned and overlays on the forefoot gave additional support and lockdown.
Nike Air Presto Foot Tent (2002)
The Air Presto Foot Tent, inspired literally by a tent, was one of designer Tinker Hatfield’s biggest flops when it debuted. It has since been retro-ed, however, with COMME des GARÇONS collaborating on the silhouette. The idea was that most of the shoe wouldn’t touch the wearer’s foot, offering optimum breathability.
Nike HTM Air Presto Roam (2002)
Nike’s legendary HTM sneaker design triumvirate Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker shared their take on the Air Presto in 2002, delivering a boot-like version limited to only 1,500 pairs, making it one of the most obscure Presto designs out there.
Nike Air Lunar Presto (2013)
Back in the pre-React days, Nike’s Lunarlon sole tech was all the rage and the Swoosh used it to remix the Air Presto. The Air Lunar Presto featured a Flywire lace cage instead of TPU and, of course, a cushioned Lunarlon midsole.
Nike Air Presto Ultra Flyknit (2016)
Another new materials-based update was 2016’s Air Presto Ultra Flyknit, which featured some of Nike’s best technology to date, including a form-fitting, mid-top Flyknit upper. It was also the lightest-ever Presto, thanks to its redesigned upper and a cored-out Nike Ultra sole.
ACRONYM x NikeLab Air Presto (2016)
In 2016, ACRONYM launched the first of two Air Presto collaborations. This one featured a mid-top design like the Ultra Flyknit, but with a neoprene mesh for more structure and a utilitarian zip. Selling out immediately, the three colorways have become some of the most coveted Presto collaborations in recent memory.
Nike Air Presto X Doernbecher Freestyle (2017)
The Air Presto X was part of Nike’s 2017 Doernbecher Children’s Hospital lineup and featured a clean slip-on design with colorways by three of the hospital’s former patients. This version ditched the TPU cage for a more streamlined take, with TPU counters at the toe and heel for added stability.
Nike Air Presto Fly (2017)
The Air Presto Fly is a slightly chunkier and more structured take on the original Air Presto. Still featuring the same midsole and overall shape, this version had a more traditional lacing system and a more modern and aggressive style.
OFF-WHITE x Nike Air Presto (2017)
Another hugely sought-after Presto collab, OFF-WHITE’s Virgil Abloh gave the Air Presto a bold, predominantly mesh makeover. The exaggerated (extra) tongue, military-inspired colorway, and heel strap made it a hit and one of the most popular sneakers in Abloh’s “The Ten” Nike collection.
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