To see in the Holidays, here's another Nike Sportswear release that's been canned from the UK-release schedule for early 2012, despite being excellent.
Alas, what we love isn't necessarily commercially viable, as we've learnt from a slew of amazing shoes that never got the opportunity to exit sample stage. It's curious that shoes from as recently as 2003 can send us spiralling into fits of nostalgia, but given the madness of the last eight years or so, it goes with the territory, and until the brilliance of the following year's Free and 2008's Lunarlon, the Nike Mayfly was the last great running breakthrough from Nike since Zoom was first applied. Named after the insect doomed to only live a day, where it manages to take the time out to breed too, there's some parallels between that little creature's pace of life and most sneaker hype cycles, but that Mayfly concept is totally performance led - this shoe is designed for just one marathon, with that paper-thing upper on the original made to last 100 kilometres before it passes away to the great shoebox in the sky.
If ever a shoe fitted with the mindset of the great Bill Bowerman, the Mayfly was the logical conclusion to a lifelong quest for less. There's parallels between this shoe and Bowerman's 1968 custom track spike for Dave Wilborn that was made so minimally with lightweight mesh that few thought it would survive a single sprint, leading to the development of 1996's Jasari design. A sibling to the lightweight descendent of the Jasari, this shoe arrived the same year as the featherweight innovation of the Monsterfly spikes, but through looks and cost, it was significantly more accessible. The Mayfly was developed by Kevin Paulk and his team, and road tested by the likes of Paula Radcliffe, it was discovered that the shoe could go a lot more distance, but for the purposes of marketing, the story stayed as it was. That story fired the minds of CTers on its release, where collectors invaded specialist sports stores and harassed Harrods staff for pairs (with an RRP of around £25 at the time), working on the principle that if worn solely for posing, there was at least twenty opportunities to floss before the shoe perished. And who was wearing a pair more than twenty times in 2003?
We would kill to get hold of the white 2001 prototypes made from Tyvek envelopes that didn't breathe, leading to the use of ripstop, but the official yellow and black colourway is a classic. The Mayfly never really seemed to go away, drifting into specialist stores seasonally. Then there were deliberate attempts to target fanboys, like the Bearbrick versions from 2005 as well as some flame and camo editions, plus a (RED) variation that never got released. But that scientific/organic looking patterning and the mixture of progressive looks and hyper simplicity was what sold the shoe to us effortlessly. Until they were cancelled, we were set to see a release of the original shoe, plus the Mayfly LT — a curiously paradoxical version of the shoe that's similar in terms of shape and the sole unit with the cutaways in the outsole, but made of far more resilient materials.
The Mayfly LT should have been named after a more long-lasting insect (don't termite queens live for decades?), but it highlights the brilliance of the design by lasering on the pattern in a pick of black or grey, with more than a hint of TZ Zoom Moire in the shades and suede-effect upper fabric. We're know this won't be the last time we see the Mayfly, but we're hoping that the Mayfly LT will make an official appearance eventually too. After all, this is a design worthy of a very special treatment. Less can be a lot, lot more when the innovation is on point and this is a perfect example. R.I.P. Bill Bowerman and long live the Mayfly.