First in Flight

Nike Is Bringing the First Air Sneaker, the Tailwind, Out of the Archives


October 19, 2018 Style : Shoes By

At some point in the late 1970s, a NASA engineer named Frank Rudy approached a young shoe company called Nike with a radical idea: a lightweight cushioning system that would use flexible membranes filled with pressurized air to support the foot. Nike quickly adopted the idea, and released it under the name Air. The technology was revolutionary for its time, not only because the Air units (also called bags) drastically cut down on the weight of running and basketball shoes, but also because they absorbed impact and sprang back to their original shape almost instantaneously, offering support like nothing else on the market.

The first shoe to feature an Air unit, the Air Tailwind, made its debut at the 1978 Honolulu Marathon. It was made available to the public the following year, advertised by a marketing campaign in which professional athletes called it “the most comfortable shoe that they have ever worn.”

The Air Tailwind, which will be available to buy on Oct. 23, is the shoe that brought Air to the world, and that eventually led to culture-changing lines like the Air Max franchise. It’s a merging of art and science that you can wear — and its current iteration was painstakingly crafted to be as close to the original as possible. Its $100 asking price feels like a bargain, especially when you consider that this is the first time sneaker collectors have been able to get their hands on the Tailwinds since 2012.

So set an alarm for next Tuesday at 10 am if you want a pair. Because these things will probably go very, very fast.

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