I’m gonna be honest: I didn’t like them at first. The chunky soles, the weird tone and texture of the upper’s fabric, the deconstructed vibe popularized by Virgil Abloh’s Off-White collaborations with Nike taken to an extreme I couldn’t vibe with ... none of it worked for me. And I had trouble seeing it working for sneaker fans (or even just casual observers) whenever they ended up being released.
I was wrong. These shoes are wild.
For the last few years, sustainability has taken hold as a major priority in the sneaker world. From eco-friendly 3D-printed sneakers to brands going out of their way to reduce their carbon footprint, Nike, Adidas, and their cohorts in sneaker production have finally seemed to realize how vital it is that they take measures to become greener companies. These steps have been taken in production, in factory management, and in money being put towards ecological initiatives. Nike’s latest step in their publicly-proclaimed mission to get their carbon footprint down to zero is a line of sneakers that rings as one of the more iconoclastic designs of their run over these last few years. It’s also an interesting step in reducing their waste emissions.
Every time a pair of sneakers, be it Air Maxes or LeBrons, is produced, there’s waste left over. From spare trims of fabric to unused rubber and plastic, every shoe leaves behind scraps of material that have, in the past, gone on to be thrown away with the rest of the company’s garbage. The newest sneaker line from Nike, dubbed the Space Hippie, uses that waste to create a line of four distinct new fashion-forward sneakers with a microscopic carbon and waste footprint. The shoes hit stores today, ranging from $130 to $170 per pair.
Their uppers, which are super scaled-back and minimal, consist of a material Nike has dubbed Space Waste Yarn. Resembling the brand’s signature Flyknit material, there’s no added dye or coloring. The result is a limited variety of colorways that tend to skew towards the gray and white side of the spectrum, rich neutral tones that allow colors to pop.
The main color pop comes in the chunky, textured sole, which is similarly composed of recycled materials. In this case, the sole consists of fused scraps of ZoomX (one of Nike’s cutting-edge foam innovations largely utilized in running shoes) in the midsole bonded together with Nike Chambray, which gives the sole its blue hue. The fused materials have been dubbed Crater Foam, in keeping with the space theme of the shoe.
All of the shoes in the line feature the same stripped-down minimalism and make for stark, eye-catching silhouettes. They’re simultaneously primitive and futuristic, drawing equally from that barely-stitched-together minimalism that has been so popular in the sneaker scene as of late with elements of design drawing inspiration from astronaut boots. It is, if we’re being honest here, probably not for everyone (shoes this fashion-forward rarely are). But the Nike Space Hippie lineup represents another crucial step forward in massive sneaker manufacturers becoming more environmentally conscious and lowering their carbon footprints.
That’s a win, whether or not you plan on picking them up this month.
This post was originally published by Tres Dean on 6/2/2020 and updated by Gabe Carey with new information on 7/3/2020.