Nike’s Forgotten Superhero Is Making A Comeback
If we’re being honest, there are a lot of similarities between comic book collectors and sneakerheads. Both have a passion for things that the rest of the world seems to barely understand. Although the crossover between these two fanbases has merged in a very public way in recent years thanks to countless collaborations that have seen characters and storylines from comics plastered on our favorite sneaker models. However, the connection hasn’t always been quite the natural fit that it seems to be today.
Back in the ‘90s, Nike conjured up their own comic book-like superhero, Swoosh Man. The character was a futuristic-looking character that had been worked on by a secretive team at Nike before being unveiled to the world in 1996. The formula had everything it needed in order to become a great success: a team at Nike capable of telling incredible stories, the name and branding that had become a global icon, and a suit made by the team of Hollywood costume designers that were responsible for making the Batman suit from the same era (that cost Nike $125,000 to make). They even bought two of those suits. Nike Sports Entertainment, the now-defunct “media” arm of Nike, even staged events around the world with the biggest names on their endorsement roster, including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, and many others.
Somehow Swoosh Man or just Swoosh as he came to be known, didn’t last long enough to become much more than a series of unexplained photos on the internet years later. Despite all of the money and time invested, and the undeniable skills of the professional mascot who wore the suit, the character never really had the superhero landing you might think he would. Instead, he became a talking point for the depths of message boards and nerds like myself that love these kinds of weird sneaker moments.
This year, Swoosh Man returns on one of the cult-like favorite running shoes from the ‘90s, the Nike Air Kukini. With an upper that uses Swoosh Man’s silver suit for a base, tiny images of Swoosh Man cover the upper as a subtle reminder of a time that was somehow ahead of its time, and completely out of place.
The Nike Air Kukini “Mighty Swooshers” colorway is rumored to drop later this year on the SNKRS app.
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