The Nike Huarache occupies a prominent place in the pantheon of sneaker greats. Originally released in 1991, these shoes came from the mind of Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, who also designed the Nike Air Max and a huge chunk of the Air Jordan line. Over the years, the Huarache has evolved and developed with new technology to become some of the most comfortable, stylish sneakers of all time, and they just keep moving forward.
Huaraches were created originally to be running shoes. They were named for a Native American Sandal, and that was the inspiration for the most prominent design elements.
They were constructed with a neoprene spandex sock in the upper that gave a supportive, flexible fit. In the heel and forefoot was Nike’s trademark Air-Sole unit for impact protection, and it was all brought together by a thermoplastic heel strap, which gives Huaraches their signature look.
This design is actually a result of Hatfield’s own experience while water-skiing. The neoprene booties worn while water-skiing inspired the idea that shoes should form to feet, and not the other way around. Feet are all constructed differently, yet we all wear sneakers that aren’t built distinctly for them. If a shoe can form to feet, that can increase comfort and support across the board. That thought is the foundation of the Huarache design, and the reason for the sleeve-like fit of the shoe.
When it released in 1991, Nike’s slogan for the Huarache was “Have You Hugged Your Foot Today?” That couldn’t be a more accurate way to describe the shoe, and looking at the design, it was the only thing that really did. The shoes weren’t released with prominent branding. There was no giant Nike swoosh that went across the outer. These shoes left the focus on design — a sneaker exoskeleton wrapped around a sock-like upper and Phylon midsole. It was a true designer’s design, pure in every sense of the word.
The Huaraches were designed for performance and comfort, but ended up as a flashbulb moment in street style. The technology, all built for running, ended up giving the Huarache a look that the world just hadn’t seen before. They remain just as popular, if not moreso, today as the day they were released, and that’s because they transition so well between shoes built for training and shoes built for men’s, women’s, and kid’s style.
Later iterations of the Nike Air Huaraches like the Air Huarache Ultra lost some of the bulk of the originals without sacrificing the look. Nike did this by implementing perforated foam and three-layer mesh to give the shoes a lighter, more flexible feel. The Ultra midsole also uses injected foam to decrease the weight, and huaraches are complete with perfectly placed rubber pods that add in extra traction for stability and protection during cuts and jumps.
In a little bit of a different direction from the NIke Air Huarache Ultra goes the Air Huarache Utility. It keeps the same design elements, but build s them out with extra protection in the upper. The Utility keeps the lightweight Phylon and Air Sole cushion, but adds on a beefy upper that makes the shoes sturdier overall.
In 2018, Nike introduced the latest rendition of the Huarache, dubbed the Nike Air Huarache Drift - a street style version based off Tinker Hatfield’s running shoe from 1991. Featuring a customizable lacing system, this new silhouette comes with adjustable straps and removable clasps so you can thread the laces for a perfect lockdown fit. Available in full-family styles in Black, White and more colorways, this 90’s runner will have you feeling fast.
Another hybrid Huarache that makes its debut in 2018 is the Nike Air Huarache City. This silhouette is a mashup of the classic ‘90s runner the Air Huarache and another notable retro the Air Raid. Removable and interchangeable velcro straps inspired by the Air Raid create for a laceless construction while the neoprene textile upper keeps the shoe lightweight and comfortable. Take to the streets in this all new women’s exclusive sneaker, available in Particle Rose, Desert Sand and more colorways.
From these two to everything in between, KicksUSA has what you’re looking for when it comes to Huaraches. Shop men’s, women’s and kid’s styles on the Nike Huarache and make sure you hug your foot every day.