Nike’s latest releases include a “disruptive” new Converse silhouette and a basketball shoe from the New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson.
Launched Thursday via a collaboration with Samuel Ross’s A-Cold-Wall*, the “avant-garde” Converse Sponge Crater nestles a flat-knit upper and PU foam sockliner within a foam body structure. “A testament to Converse’s continual reinvention,” the shoe utilizes a new last, shape and proportion for the Nike-owned brand, it said.
“It is both an exploration and exaggeration of Crater Foam as a comfort material and a study in reducing complexity,” Matt Sleep, design director, Energy at Converse, said in a statement. “It is made of only a few components, most notably our first full cage structure crafted from Crater Foam, which speaks to the silhouette’s design and also plays a part in helping ensure comfort.”
The mule-cut shoe launched first through a collaboration edition with A-Cold-Wall*. Ross, the label’s founder, “brought many things to our collaboration, but none more important than his way of seeing and understanding the symbiotic nature of the form and ‘feel’ of a product,” Sleep said. An inline Converse Sponge Crater is scheduled for release later this year.
Also this week, Nike released the first colorway of the Jordan Zion 2 Wednesday, the sneaker conceived around New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson. The “lightweight” shoe is designed to do “a multitude of things on court,” while simultaneously enhancing responsiveness, comfort and support, according to Nike, which in 2019 sent a team to China to come up with solutions after the then-Duke star’s Nike shoe infamously “exploded” during the opening minutes of a game against rival North Carolina.
The Zion 2 decouples the sneaker’s strobel, shifting it from a full-length unit to a focus on the heel, allowing for 20 percent more Zoom Air on the forefoot—improving responsiveness—and a smoother landing on the heel. The shoe is also built with a performance cup sole that wraps high up the foot and a forefoot strap that works with the lacing system for “optimal” support.
Nike described the Jordan Zion 2 as a marriage between “game-changing tech” and a “throwback look” that calls back to the Nike icons of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The shoe also introduces a new Zion logo. It released in North America Wednesday, with a second colorway set to drop Thursday.
Nike released its “Be True” collection Wednesday as well. The summer 2022 line—though it arrives during Pride Month, the brand did not frame it as a Pride collection—features a blend of colors that “represent the diverse perspectives of the LGBTQIA2S+ community,” it said. It includes an SB Dunk Low, Cortez, an Oneonta sandal and select apparel. All but the Nike Cortez Be True, which will arrive at a later date, released on Wednesday.
Since 2019, Nike Inc. has donated $2.7 million in support of LGBTQIA2S+ causes, including Athlete Ally, the Out Foundation, the GenderCool Project, LGBT SportSafe and GLSEN, it said.
This month also saw the debut of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2. The second iteration of the brand’s flagship marathon shoe—Eliud Kipchoge wore the original Alphafly Next% when he broke the two-hour marathon barrier in 2019—includes a full-length Nike ZoomX foam midsole, a curved carbon plate, an Atomknit 2.0 upper, a thin rubber outsole and a wide heel.
According to Nike, additional foam under the Zoom Air pods will offer runners more energy return and ensure a smooth transition from heel to forefoot. The “slightly” wider heel reportedly improves stability and transition through changes of pace. The new upper, meanwhile, was engineered for containment in the forefoot, breathability above the toes and padding under the laces.
The prototype colorway of the Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 released in limited quantities June 15. More colorways will follow, Nike said.
Last month, the company introduced what it called Nike Re-Creation. The program, launched initially at a single Los Angeles store, joined a long line of circularity initiatives.
Unlike schemes like Nike Refurbished—a resale program it launched last year—Nike Re-Creation collects local vintage and deadstock pieces and uses them to create new locally designed and manufactured products. Its initial chapter launched May 26 with three fleece hoodie and crew silhouettes, each of which were made available in limited quantities.
To create the collection, Nike said, it restored individual pieces back to wearable condition via a manual process of cleaning, dyeing, stitching and patching. The unique, resulting pieces feature patches and decorative stitching, as well as a range of Nike heritage and Los Angeles-inspired screen-printed graphics.
“Nike Re-Creation highlights an exciting moment of experimentation and progression,” John Hoke, Nike’s chief design officer, said in a statement. “The program exemplifies Nike’s collaborative spirit, bringing together experts in design, retail, supply chain and sustainability to strategize and learn.”