Nike Air Tech Challenge II: unleashing the Kumquat

Second place is the first loseror, as Nike put it in their controversial Atlanta Olympics campaign, you don't win silver — you lose gold. If you missed the Hot Lava Tech Challenge II, this colourway right here is the runner up medal. After the careful scattering of truly limited tournament releases and the release of the Lavas (one of the best shoes ever) and that 1989 Tech Challenge makeup in Orange Burst, it's time for the onslaught of colours to drop. That shade of orange is Kumquat on the tag (White/Kumquat/-Sft Prl-Htr-Blk, 318408-180 if you're one of those Johnny 5 shoe dudes who uses this kind of data) which sounds like a mythical creature that parents in a small Australian town would tell stories about to scare their children from going near a creek, but it's actually a fruit bearing tree that's native to parts of Asia. These are a decent colourway, but they look weirdly muted, with that chalky off-white, like somebody left one of the more popular ATCII makeups in a sports shop window during a couple of hot summers — they're a little bit too close to what's been out in the last few months.

That light blue seems to come completely out of nowhere too, but when we're talking about Andre Agassi's Nike shoes, the colours should at least be a little bit controversial and these have been disorientating us for a little while now. They're not especially weak, but they pale alongside what's on the market (in fact, those impending suedes absolutely ace them) on the Tech front. Not bad, but not a classic. While the Air Jordan line has pretty much emptied its archive over the last decade, there's still some Agassi treats in the vaults — even that hated-on 'What the Agassi' style hybrid from a few years back was better than a lot of what's causing hype right now. Nike put the Air Tech Challenge IV Low out back in the early 2000s for some Jimmy Connors swag (and around 2001 they had a Tech Challenge II reissue sampled that never seemed to release, unless anyone can correct us on that), but it ended up in outlets. We think the IV would sell pretty well if the retro wasn't quite as botched as some other shoes in the series. But in the meantime, these are alright and due to land next month.

Posted by, Gary Warnett on 9 April 2014