Nike Presto Shoes
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The Nike Presto line was born out of a need for something better. When the Presto was first conceived, Nike designer Tobie Hatfield was tired of the collar splaying out on his running shoes. In his discomfort, Hatfield saw an opportunity.
To fix the awkward fit, Hatfield designed a shoe with a V-notch in the ankle that allowed the shoe to flex with the foot through each phase of the stride. But then he had to find the right material for the upper to maximize comfort; leather was too stiff, mesh didn’t stretch, and neoprene trapped heat. The perfect running shoe needed an upper flexible enough to bend with the new design and sturdy enough to maintain the V-notch.
A T-shirt for the foot.
After a four-year search for the right material, Hatfield and his team finally found what they were looking for: spacer mesh. Often used in the medical industry, spacer mesh offers flexibility, stretch, and breathability. It was the final ingredient that the Nike Presto was waiting for.
Due to the Presto’s unique design that could flex with the foot, Hatfield realized during the weartesting that the Presto wasn’t restricted by normal sizing. With the V-notch, a size 11 foot could wear a size 9 shoe without any discomfort. The fit was nearly magical, inspiring the name “Presto.” Turning convention upside down, Nike threw out traditional shoe sizing and offered the Presto in sizes XXS-XL, leading to the tagline “A T-shirt for the foot.”
When the Nike Air Presto was released, it was unlike any other shoe launch at the time. Already breaking the rules with their unconventional sizing, Nike decided to go all-in and throw away the norm. The Nike Air Presto released in 13 different colors, with zany names like Catfight Shiner, Rabid Panda, Rogue Kielbasas, Shady Milkman, and Unholy Cumulus.
Though the Presto was created as a running shoe, its bold style and unparalleled comfort quickly developed a streetwear following. It wasn’t long before new renditions of the Presto were dropping sporadically, including the famous Off-White iteration by Virgil Abloh.
Later models like the Nike Presto Extreme and the Nike Presto React (which adds a striking React midsole to the Presto) offer fresh new ways to rep the Presto. Though the Presto’s legacy throughout the years has evolved from running shoe to fashion statement, the fundamentals never changed: great shoes come from breaking the rules. Get your pair of Nike Shoes today.
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