The History of the Nike Blazer
A favoured skate shoe silhouette thanks to its vulcanised rubber sole, multi-directional traction capabilities and its abrasion-resistant leather and suede uppers, the Nike SB Blazer is a profile well-equipped to handle the wear-and-tear of any skate style. With many notable reworks appearing on the scene since prominent pro-skater Lance Mountain’s 2005 development, the Nike Blazer owes much of its understated legacy to its rich basketball heritage.
An innovative breakthrough-design that put Nike on centre stage with the likes of adidas and OG court-champion’s Converse, the ‘73 Nike Blazer relied on nothing more than its crisp white underlay and iconic Swoosh logo to set it aside from anything else the sporting industry had previously seen. With a pure-leather upper, mesh nylon tongue and a court-specific vulcanised textured rubber sole, the Blazer stood the test of time, both then and now, with its cutting edge technology and legendary design. With Nike’s game-changing Air technology programme making its debut five years later on the revolutionary racing styled Tailwinds, and the monumental signing of basketball hero Michael Jordan taking place 12 years later, the Nike Blazer was a style that scored itself double-digits way before its time. Aptly named after the Portland Trail Blazers, the iconic profile from Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight is one that has seen many collaborative signings since its 1973 origin.
A player then-signed to the San Antonio Spurs, George Gervin was swiftly signed-up to endorse the silhouette thanks to his notoriety, collected court-side attitude, and his exemplary track record as a shooting guard. Describing the break-through profile as a design that was ‘out of the box’ even back in the ‘70s, Gervin carried the iconic Swoosh-branded profile from its court-based origins right through to its up-take in both street and hip-hop culture. With the cameras pointed at Gervin during every fast-paced game, Nike proactively introduced their first-ever player exclusive, the unreleased ‘Iceman’ Blazers, to boost both brand awareness and as a method of hyping up its pre-existing market ready for future exclusive drops and collaborations. Transitioning from the courts to the centre-stage of other subcultural scenes by the early 1990’s, the 46-year old Nike Blazer is a profile with so many stories to tell.
Thanks to the profile’s grippy rubber outsole and its premium-formatted uppers, the Nike Blazer crossed its way over into the skate scene during the mid 90’s and has since become a resident profile of many amateur and professional skaters. A design that was originally designed for hard-wood floors is one that now outlives its archived legacy by gracing the rough-and-ready finish of contemporary grip-taped decks. Before Lance Mountain’s 2005 Air Zoom restructure for Nike SB, abstract graffiti artist Futura 2000 collaborated with Nike in 2003 to release a limited-edition capsule collection of just 1000 pairs of brushed suede Blazer’s that are, even to this day, extremely rare and just as collectable. Just one year after the silhouette’s skateboarding remake by Lance Mountain, a commemorative collaboration with Supreme helped land the profile with commendable stature in both street and high-end styling. Re-imagined with quilted side panels, golden aglets and puffy snake-skin Swooshes, the obscenely-luxe aesthetic evoked by the Nike SB x Supreme Blazers cleared the way for other statement styles to follow suit, including those from the likes of Comme des Garcons, Fragment and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White 2019 release of the Blazer Mid ‘Grim Reapers’.
Fast forward to 2014, and Nike SB announced the release of a collaborative model with 2011 Thrasher Magazine ‘Skater of The Year’ Grant Taylor. Sliding into the Nike SB mix to debut his very first signature model, the cargo khaki Nike SB Blazer Low GT, Grant Taylor joined the ranks alongside creative guru Stefan Janoski to host his very own skate-specific sneaker. Known for his uniquely raw skateboarding style and his boundless energy, Taylor deservingly transformed the now-familiar skate shoe by switching out the leather panels strictly for suede whilst faithfully maintaining Nike SB’s pre-built Zoom Air unit that was now being honoured across most, if not all skateboarding profiles. A pro-model with a playful persona, the 2014 release of the Nike SB Blazer Low GT’s offered the pre-existing skate community with a futuristic spin on an old-school classic that effectively shaped both society and sporting culture as we know it.
2020 welcomes another well-timed addition from pro-skater Grant Taylor in the shape of the recently released White / Club Gold and Midnight Navy Blazer Low GTs. These low-profile skate shoes combine old-school traditions with contemporary flair to deliver a style well-suited to any street-shredding skate style. Formatted with a herringbone sole, leather-esque heel collars and with Taylor’s iconic star-shaped perforated decals across the side panels, these boosted boardfeel shoes effectively maintain all there is to admire about the Blazer’s life-long legacy. For a more nostalgic throwback to the ‘70s, the Team Royal Nike SB Blazer Mid Shoes offer something with a little more high-collared protection whilst tackling any city or street set-up. A colourway that’s almost identical in appearance to the debut 1973 pair, these texturised skate-specific remakes are once again fitted with Zoom Air insoles and tractionised tread patterns, whilst the lightweight abrasion-resistant uppers make them better suited when it comes to catering to urbanised necessities.
Other notable releases include the addition of the Blazer Mid silhouette in the on-going #supportyourlocalskateshop Nike SB Orange Label collection - seen in a black suede trio (joined by a Bruin and Dunk Low Pro) as well as in the second all-white leather release. More recently pro-rider Oskar Rosenberg’s ‘Oski’ Blazer Mid Shoes were released with a cord upper. With deconstructed tones and striped-back styling evoking a more urbanised feel, the Nike Blazer has also debuted within Nike’s evolutionary chop-and-change ‘Hack Pack’ collection, as showcased by the unrivalled Blazer Mid Edge Shoes. With a legacy that stretches far beyond the skate scene to bury itself deep within sporting history, the Nike Blazer profile has permeated its way across cultures and communities to become an iconic sneaker loved by all - skaters, street dwellers and sporting legends alike.
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