Highsnobiety

The Nike Foamposite has a legacy like none other. Not only one of the most expensive Nike shoes of its day, the Nike Foamposite also splits opinions like no other footwear design.

Nike has always been synonymous with incredible advances in sneaker tech and aesthetics, and in 1997, the Swoosh unveiled perhaps its most groundbreaking shoe in terms of design: the Air Foamposite One.

In the 1996-97 college basketball season, Nike invited the Arizona Wildcats to its Oregon HQ and routinely sent the team prototype sneakers to try out. And it was during 1997's crunch March Madness tournament that the Foamposite first appeared on the feet of Mike Bibby and other Wildcats.

Arizona came up against tournament favorites Kansas in the sweet sixteen round, meaning there was a good chance the Foamposites debuted in that tie would disappear as quickly as they'd appeared. But Arizona won and kept winning, meaning their Foamposites kept appearing on the big stage all the way to the championship game against Kentucky, which Arizona won 84-79.

Shortly afterward, the Air Foamposite One debuted on the NBA hardwood. Orlando Magic point guard Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway laced up his Foamposites in early April 2017 as the Magic prepared for the playoffs. The shoes even sparked a minor controversy, with the NBA ruling that the all-blue kicks didn’t match his team's black uniform. But Hardaway filled in the shoe's gaps with a Sharpie and kept wearing them.

Part of the Air Foamposite One's appeal was its lack of dominant Nike branding. With just a tiny white Swoosh on the lateral forefoot side, it wasn't immediately obvious that it was a Nike sneaker. Standing out more than the Swoosh was Hardaway’s 1Cent logo on the tongue, heel, and outsole, which was first seen on the player's Air Penny 1 and Air Penny 2 models.

As the story goes, Nike met with Hardaway to show him samples for his next model. But he wasn’t satisfied with any of them — until he saw a bag with the Air Foamposite One prototype inside. Hardaway immediately fell in love with the model, and so Nike turned it into his own. According to Arizona's Quynn Tebbs, Hardaway wasn't happy when Arizona players debuted the shoe before him, although equally, there are stories the Foamposite was actually designed with Chicago Bulls' Scottie Pippen in mind, not Hardaway.

Designed by Eric Avar and Jeff Johnson, the beetle-inspired Air Foamposite One was packed with new tech. Labeled “the shoe of the future,” it featured a full-length low-to-the-ground Zoom Air unit. The incredibly light polyurethane upper and midsole surrounded the foot for protection and comfort. A carbon fiber plate provided stability and flexibility in the midsole.

South Korean company Daewoo, better known for making cars, provided the formula for the shoe's synthetic materials. A synthetic liquid was poured into a $750,000 mold, integrating the upper, midsole, and outsole into one piece. Bizarrely, those original molds were destroyed, with no thought that the shoe might return in future — a costly error. The Air Foamposite One retailed for a staggering $180 on release and a new generation of sneakers was born.

In fall 1997, the Air Foamposite Pro followed, featuring a jeweled Swoosh on the side and no 1Cent logo. Since 1997, Nike has released almost 100 different Foamposite colorways and countless other models inspired by the original design, including the Air Flightposite, Clogposite, Air Foamdome, Air Bakin Posite, Trainerposite, Hyperposite, and the 1/2 Cent.

The Air Foamposite Pro retro-ed for the first time in 2001. Seven colorways came out over the next five years. In 2007, the Air Foamposite One returned for the first time in four colorways. Among the most covetable Foamposites to follow over the years are the "ParaNorman," "Doernbecher," and the 2014 Supreme collab.

List of Foamposites (courtesy of the FoamBook app)

1997

Nike Air Foamposite One "Royal"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Pearl"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Gum"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Black/Metallic Silver"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Voltage"

2001

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Varsity Royal"

2002

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Varsity Red"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Black/Medium Grey"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Pearl"

2003

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Carolina"

2004

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Black/Medium Grey"

2006

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Dr. Doom"

2007

Nike Air Foamposite One "Royal"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Blackout"/"Anthracite"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Cough Drop"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Cactus"

2008

Nike Air Foamposite One "HOH Penny Royal"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Silver"

Nike Air Foamposite One "HOH Dark Army"

2009

Nike Air Foamposite One "Eggplant"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Pearl"

2010

Nike Air Foamposite One "Copper"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Eggplant"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Cough Drop"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Pearl"

2011

Nike Air Foamposite One "Royal"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Electric Green"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Pewter"

Foamposite One "HOH Elecrtic Green"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Electric Blue"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Pine"

Foamposite One "Sole Collector"

2012

Nike Air Foamposite One "Metallic Red"

Nike Air Foamposite NRG "Galaxy"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Warriors"/"Electrolime"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Gym Green"

Nike Air Foamposite One "ParaNorman"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Platinum"/"Bright Crimson"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Polarized Pink"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Stealth"

2013

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Fighter Jet"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Suns"

Nike Air Foamposite One “Whiteout”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro Premium LE "Camo"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Sport Royal"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Weatherman"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Thermal Map"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro Premium "Asteroid"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium DB "Doernbecher"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Safari"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Oregon Ducks"

2014

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Spider-Man"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Tech Challenge"

Supreme x Nike Air Foamposite One “Black”

Supreme x Nike Air Foamposite One "Red"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro Premium "Yeezy"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Shooting Stars"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Concord"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Black Suede"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro Premium "Elephant Print"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium "Wheat"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Knicks"

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Volt"

2015

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Obsidian"

Nike Air Foamposite One PRM "Tianjin"

Nike Air Foamposite One "Chromeposite"

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Fruity Pebbles”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Metallic Gold”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Gym Red”

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium “Gone Fishing”

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium “Sharpie”

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium “Grey Suede”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Gorge Green”

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium “Olive Suede”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Winter White”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Magma”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Hologram”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro "Class of ’97"

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium “Blue Mirror”

2016

Nike Air Foamposite One “University Blue”

Nike Air Foamposite One Premium “Northern Lights”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Black Fruity Pebbles”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Pure Platinum”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “University Red”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Wu-Tang”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Olympic”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Ben Gordon”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Halloween”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Night Maroon”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Dr. Doom”

2017

Nike Air Foamposite One XX “20th Anniversary Royal”

Nike Lil’ Posite Pro “Fruity Pebbles”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Vachetta Tan”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Silver Surfer”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Copper”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Metallic Red”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Fleece Wool”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Eggplant”

Nike Lil’ Posite Pro “Nerf”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Island Green”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Vamposites”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Metallic Gold”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Legion Green”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Hey Penny”

Nike WMNS Air Foamposite One “Shine”

2018

Nike Air Foamposite One PRM “Abalone”

Nike WMNS Air Foamposite One “Chrome”

Nike Air Foamposite One “CNY”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “White Ice”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro QS “All-Star”

Nike Air Foamposite One XX QS “Big Bang”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Easter”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Space Jam”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Elemental Rose”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Fuschia Blast”

Nike WMNS Air Foamposite One “Particle Beige”

Nike Lil’ Posite Pro “Gym Blue”

Nike WMNS Air Foamposite One “Summit White”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Sequoia”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Denim”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Habenero”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Black/Metallic Gold”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Iridescent”

Nike WMNS Air Foamposite One “Obsidian Glitter”

2019

Nike Air Foamposite One “Midnight Navy”

Nike Air Foamposite One “Floral”

Nike Lil’ Posite One “Hornets”

Nike Air Foamposite One PRM “Doernbecher”

Nike Air Foamposite One MT QS “Memphis Tigers”

Nike Air Foamposite Pro “Hyper Crimson”

Nike Air Foamposite One "Snakeskin"

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