Nike Air Raid: X marks the shoe

The Nike Air Raid's genesis was a Post-It note on Mark Parker's doorfrom Phil Knight asking for an outdoor basketball shoe. That yellow square was presumably instigated by the launch of arch-enemy Reebok's Blacktop range. That note would end up on Tinker Hatfield's desk and with assistance from fellow creatives like Mark Smith, the Nike Raid project started rolling. Focusing on the aggression of New York's concrete courts, the team would interview players and the kids watching the games about a few of their favourite things (and having seen the questionnaires from the time, most interviewees seemed to cite Brand Nubian as their group of choice. And while we're on the knowledge of self subject, while the Raid's success is a coincidental X-strapped look that coincided with Spike Lee's Malcolm X biopic and the merchandise that was huge on the streets at the time, it was apparently a huge coincidence. Development of this silhouette was in place long before that film opened, but Hatfield still wanted to have some fun with the design, playing on the game's aggression and strapping the player in to prevent injury. Playing with the slang of the time, this shoe was almost named the Air Jack to play on notions of getting jacked, but with the media focus on shoe-related crime a year prior, it never made the cut (in fact, in the short-lived mid 2000s Restoration Pack that included the Air Trainer FT, the Air Jaq made an appearance). This shoe embodies 1992 with that 'For Outdoor Use Only' lettering reinforcing its rugged purpose and that cross fastening becoming part of the Jordan VIII the following year as well as the Raid's 1993 sequel which repented for those criminal intentions by getting a lurid 'Peace' makeover and a weird wood-effect sole variant. In recent years this shoe has had some questionable reworkings with colourways that bricked and ended up on Schuh shelves for peanuts but these almost OG editions — due next month — are killer. Black leather that's appropriately tough and a white sole works well. Get colours wrong on this one and it's a monstrosity but get it right and we're sold. This does the shoe justice.

Posted by, Gary Warnett on 13 March 2014