Tennis legend John McEnroe turns 59 today. To celebrate we will be sharing a little story about Mr. McEnroe and the Air Trainer 1. When the Air Trainer was being developed the notion of cross training wasn’t really a thing yet; running shoes were for running, tennis shoes for tennis, etc. Tinker Hatfield and Eric Avar imagined a multi dimensional shoe that would work for all levels of athletes.
As with most events in history, John McEnroe was in the right place at the right time. The contract with Nike was being renegotiated and he wanted a new model. His tennis shoes were causing foot pain; some Nike Lab peeps (designers) brought McEnroe a couple options including the Trainer 1 in hopes that one would alleviate his pain. Skeptical at first, John gave them a shot and they worked! The Air Trainer 1 provided McEnroe with the cushioning of a runner and lateral support of a tennis shoe leading him to many victories (though Nike told him not to wear the shoe before an official release). McEnroe had this to say about the Trainer 1, “Once they were on, I was like, ‘Sorry guys this is the one. We have to go with this, we have to reverse field here.’ This one felt really right.”
The Air Trainer 1’s versatile, multi-sport performance caught on and led to an entire category of footwear. Now a legend, the Air Trainer 1 continues to be retro’ed and beloved. Scroll through some classic photos of the shoe below! Have you ever owned a pair of Nike Air Trainer 1’s? Comment below and follow us on Instagram @sneakerhistory for more on this topic.
John McEnroe circa 1986
Outsole Design Sketch
Deteriorating OG Air Trainer 1