Lacing Up 50 Years of the Nike Blazer

It’s not often that products formed within a brand’s formative years survive the test of time, remaining a staple of its product offering well beyond inception. Despite being a rare occurrence, it’s one that Nike has committed itself to making a reality, showcasing the timeless nature of its sneaker designs.

Case in point, the Blazer, which turns 50 this year. With a series of special releases and collaborations on the horizon, can we truly appreciate what lies ahead without indulging in what came before? I think not.

It’s only right that we start at the beginning. To make it clear just how long the Blazer has been knocking about, the shoe released in 1973, just two years after Blue Ribbon Sports took on the Nike name and iconic Swoosh logo.

As the third sneaker designed to bolster the Swoosh arsenal during its formative years, it’s fair to say the Blazer is part of the furniture at Nike. Seemingly omnipresent, over the years, the silhouette has outgrown its basketball heritage, becoming a cultural staple across the globe.

While it may prove difficult to pinpoint the epicenter of the Blazer’s explosive growth, several moments of note undoubtedly played into the hand of its desirability and impact.

Perhaps the first significant stride for the silhouette came in 2005 when the fledging Nike SB division adopted and adapted it with the addition of a padded collar and Zoom Air technology. From this point forward, the Blazer largely left its basketballing origins behind it, becoming one of SB’s flagship styles.

Much like the Dunk (in all of its verticalities), Nike SB not only gave the Blazer new life but catapulted it to cult status, soon becoming a desirable artifact for collaborations.

Through SB, Blazers were swept up by Supreme, which delivered the 2006 Quilted Snakeskin three-piece, 2016 Blazer Low GT, and 2022 sequel to the ’06 pack.

Further to these additions, Stüssy left its stamp on SB’s Blazer variations in 2002 and 2008.

Skateboarding cannot take all the glory where impactful Blazer collaborations are concerned, however, as the silhouette’s Mount Rushmore also includes statement styles from ACRONYM, CDG, Souland, sacai and KAWS (in low and high top variations) from 2019-2021, as well as Off-White offerings from 2017-2022.

While many brands long for their own take on an Air Jordan or Air Max, some of the most impactful brands within streetwear culture desire to deliver unique takes on the Blazer as a piece of Nike history, and those that have succeeded have typically returned for more.

This speaks to the timelessness of the silhouette and its adoption by the mainstream. Anyone that was a teen in the UK during the 2010s will remember the chokehold that suede Blazer Mids had on us – the silhouette, at its peak, could give the Haurrache or adidas UltraBOOST’s popularity a run for their money.

As is standard for any trend, love of the Blazer inevitability came back around in 2020, as Nike offered a diet version of the popular Off-White Mids alongside a slew of clean general release pairs.

Undoubtedly, as Nike’s third child celebrates its 50th anniversary, celebrations will be held at mass. With a slew of spring colorways already slated for releases, you should buckle in for the year of the Blazer.

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