words & image // Zack Schlemmer
The Huarache technology designed by Tinker Hatfield is one of Nike's greatest innovations. Nike took the name "huarache" from a type of sandal from Mexico whose lightweight, minimalist design was the inspiration for the Nike Huarache line. The signature of all Huaraches: the neoprene bootie, which Tinker had the idea for after water skiing, offers great fit and adaptation to each individual's foot. The basketball Huarache's lightweight design and cut out ankle seemed flimsy to many players used to more bulky basketball shoes of the time. Keep in mind the Air Command Force, one of Nike's beefiest and highest-top ever basketball shoes came out just a year earlier, so many probably didn't know what to think of the Huarache in 1992. Worn by a handful of pros such as Scottie Pippen(during the 1992 All Star Game) and Terrell Brandon, the Air Flight Huarache was made most famous by Michigan's Fab Five. (Ironically, the Fab Five's arch nemesis Christian Laettner also wore them early in his NBA career.)
This ad is one of my favorite vintage shoe ads that I've come across. Here we get an awesome look at the Air Flight Huarache along with a handmade shoe, supposedly worn by Mayans. The ad compares the ancient Mayan version of basketball to the modern version and let's us know that the new Nike huarache is not made of tree bark like it's predecessor. While many of us will be picking up this same colorway of the new Nike Free version, we still can't help but hope that Nike will also bring back the original sole soon!