words & image // Zack Schlemmer

Since Penny Hardaway's birthday is today, this week's Vintage Ad had to be a Penny model.  In past Vintage Ad features we've seen the Air Penny II, Foamposite One and the Air Penny III, and today we go back to where it all started.  Released in 1995, the Air Penny I was Penny's first official signature shoe from Nike.  (Although the Flight One could be claimed as his first signature, the Air Penny was the first to bear his name.)   

The Air Max Penny, as it was called on its original box, was unlike any shoe before it.  Designed by Eric Avar, the Air Penny featured a bold "wing" on the lateral side and fit in somewhere between Nike Basketball's Force and Flight lines of the time - perfect for Penny's style of play.   

Just like movies, the first shoe in a franchise is often the best, or at least the most iconic.  Most would agree that is true with the Air Penny I, as it is still considered by the majority as the favorite in all of Penny's celebrated signature line. 

Now check out another one of Nike's "phone number" ads, showcasing the Air Penny one in all of its original glory.  Happy birthday, Penny!