The Beatles might’ve started a Revolution, but Nike, oooo Nike, continues to push a ‘Prestolution’ onto the footwear world and honestly… we ain’t mad one bit! We’re sure many readers have noticed an uptick of releases baring the Presto name over the last 5-6 years and Nike’s “T-shirt for your feet” doesn’t seem to be slowing down! We thought it would be fun to take a look back at what made the Air Presto great!
Our little history lesson is sponsored by our good friends at The Colorways, and the fantastic event they’re putting on in Portland, OR this 4th Of July Weekend!
The Colorways is festival that highlights the vibrancy of streetwear culture and the sneaker community as a whole. Their objective is to promote dialogue, entertain and spark new ideas. We’re all about sharing sneaker knowledge and initiating conversation here at Sneaker History, so The Colorways festival is something we can most def stand behind! If you’re in the Portland Area July 4-7 then be sure to come through! Learn more about the event, HERE.
The new millennium was an exiting time for Nike product. 2000’s Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia in particular served as the backdrop for Nike to unveil two of their most recognizable silhouettes – the Shox BB4 (for basketball) and the star of this post, the futuristic runner, Air Presto.
Today, in 2019, the Air Presto’s looks are familiar. They’re just another shoe you’d see on your way to Safeway. Nothing special, right? Wrong. The Preso’s designer, Tobie Hatflied, wanted to create a shoe with stupid flexibility, breathability and fun-ability (just playin’) all the way back in 1996, but technology had to catch up first.
A few design cues from the original Presto looked completely bonkers back-in-the-day; but the construction methods behind the cozy classics have profoundly effected how footwear is constructed almost twenty years later. First we need to talk about the bootie/sock/water shoe fit. Shoes like the OG Air Huarache and Air Jordan 7 housed bootie constructions, but neither shoe dared to be as bold and minimalistic as the Presto. For example, the Air Huarache featured a neoprene bootie ankle/tongue but synthetic overlays around the neoprene existed to support the upper; basically, it was bootie + support straps around the ankle/lacing system. The Presto ditched the overlays, stitched the tongue all the way up to the ankle and said, “hey kids, you won’t hurt yourself. Go have fun wearing me!” Hatfield realized less is sometimes more with the Presto. Wearers instantly knew the Presto was a hit, but the masses needed to be convinced that Hatfield’s creation was completely safe to wear, comfortable and flexible. They were such a departure from the norm – runners without the bulk. It’s amazing when you look at the Huarache, the (then) pinnacle of lightweight, breathable, kicks and the Presto side-by-side; it took less than ten years for materials and construction to shift that dramatically.
It takes two to make a thing go right. Right? The Presto’s “T-shirt for your feet” construction would’ve never ever worked had they not utilized TPU (plastic) caging in conjunction with that pronominal upper. Four major regions make up the Presto’s plastic support system:
- Heel counter
- Medial & Lateral mid-foot
- Toe cap
In a stroke creative genius, almost every plastic component we just listed above flows into one another. Everything starts at the heel. That plastic counter/ heel clip keeps wearers locked in and beautifully flows into the uppermost eyelets (not to mention that gorgeous semitransparent Nike branding). The eyelets not only functionally lace-up (duh), but also transition to the forefoot and lateral “fingers” or caging of the Presto with glorious ease. The medial fingers extend through the midsole as to provide a stability shank – further fortifying the Presto. Lastly, to ensure toes didn’t blow out the front, Tobie called upon the powers of Toe Cap Gods to strengthen the tippy-toe (cap) with TPU. These four regions of protection work to create a stability set-up that accentuates the Preto’s minimalistic design.
All this magic on the upper sits atop an extremely flexible midsole that allowed the shoe’s strengths (of flexibility and breathability) to shine. The Presto was one of the first (if not the first) pairs of running shoes with the ability to contort and bend in unorthodox ways.
The Nike Air Presto is an all-time classic, there’s no disputing that. But Nike loves to tinker with the Presto – they’re always dropping new iterations… with some being better than others. Honestly, some are straight out of a Frankenstein movie too. Earlier in 2019 The Swoosh released a new version of the Presto dubbed the React Presto. Take a wild guess why it’s called the React Presto… I’ll give you a minute…
It’s because the shoes feature React foam cushioning! React is Nike’s latest and most comfortable foam based technology to date with an under-foot feel that’s truly exceptional.
The React Presto is a rare shoe in the sense that it perfectly captures the past and present. Upon first glance well-versed sneakerheads can spot the similarities between the OG Presto and the React Presto with ease. The bootie, TPU caging, toe box, pull tab, and lateral Swoosh are all callbacks to the OG without rehashing the elements. In other words, Nike didn’t just slap identical design elements of the OG ontop of React tooling and call it a day. They truly reimagined the Presto; taking what made the originals special and bringing them into 2019. My favorite new element is the heel; Nike tossed out the TPU cage and replaced it with a supple and soft heel counter that doesn’t need much fortification. Even better, the design team took the Alpha Project dots (the five consecutive dots on the lateral midsole of the OGs) and placed them on the heel to form the shape of a face (enoji for you kids). Most will choose the new-age caging as the React Presto’s best feature but to me, it’s the little touches.
It’s so dope how Nike placed the Presto logo in the same spot as the original – that’s the kind of direct call back I like.
Nike went a completely different direction on the midsole/outsole design, in a good way. The React Presto highlights Nike’s flagship tech without being too aggressive. The bends and contours of the React tooling gives this Presto a great sense of depth and texture; without it, the React Presto would look too basic. Under-foot, there’s not another shoe on the market that feels like the React Presto and Nike went the right route by not over branding the shoe itself.
Colorways on the React Presto have been magnificent too. Callbacks to OG classics like the Savage Panda and Brutal Honey are nice touches, but new color ways like the Psychedelic Lava are equally impressive. Honestly, there hasn’t been a bad colorway of the React Presto yet! Overall, this is just a highly impressive shoe that no one really saw coming. They’ve been on a low key takeover of the shoe game and we expect the Nike React Presto to only grow in popularity as the summer continues.
Speaking of colorways… we want to give another shoutout to the awesome people over at The Colorways for sponsoring this post. Be sure to checkout the event in the Portland, OR area 4th of July weekend!
Later this week we’re going to take a look back at some of the past hits and misses of the Presto line so be sure to check back to Sneaker History in the near future!