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Your correspondent is, unabashedly, a Nike stan. Copies of Shoe Dog, Nike: Better is Temporary and Nike SB: The Dunk Book can be found on my bookshelf. I can tell you, offhand, that the Swoosh logo was designed by Portland State University student Carolyn Davis in 1971 for the grand sum of $35 (don’t worry — she also got a chunk of Nike stock and made out just fine). If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that there are probably close to a hundred pairs of shoes with said Swoosh on them in my closet/storage unit — a fraction of what you might find in the collection of a truly hardcore sneakerhead, true, but evidence of inveterate Nike fandom (and irresponsible budgeting) nonetheless.
Several of these pairs were designed using Nike By You, the service provided by the fine folks in Beaverton that allows users, via a handy online tool (or in person at a Nike By You Studio), to design and personalize various sneakers and sportswear pieces. Said pairs designed using Nike By You are, without question, among the most treasured in my collection. Not because they are some crazy limited-edition collab (though when I think about it, I guess they kind of are — a one-of-one collab between Nike and yours truly), but because they are an expression of my creativity.
This is the genius of Nike By You (and the reason I find it shocking that many people still aren’t aware of it despite the fact that it has been around since 1999) — anyone with more than a passing interest in the world of sneaker design will tell you that wondering what goes into the process comes with the territory, and this tool gives you the opportunity to have a direct hand in it in a really fun and interactive way.
At any given time, there are around 50 different pairs of Nike shoes on the Nike By You platform available for customization — they run the gamut from lifestyle kicks to basketball and running shoes to soccer/baseball/football cleats and rotate regularly. Each has its own set of elements that can be customized with a set number of colorways/fabrications available. While this set number of choices may at first seem limiting, it actually helps to eliminate decision fatigue and some rudimentary math will tell you that you’ve still got tens of thousands of options for any given shoe. Once you factor in the custom text you’re allowed to apply to most shoes, that number becomes infinite.
As for the actual design process, to each his/her own but I’ve found that the most fun way is to just pick a shoe I like and start messing around with it — toggling back and forth between the elements and experimenting with different combinations until I find something that speaks to me is truly enjoyable. Admittedly, some experiments are more fruitful than others and I have left many a pair on the cutting room floor. But more often than not, I wind up tinkering until I find myself staring at a finished design and thinking, “Hell yeah, I’d rock these.” Thus begins the point in the process when I must agonize over whether I truly need another pair of Nikes and inevitably concoct some sort of half-assed justification and pull out my credit card.
Below, you’ll find a few examples of my handiwork created in preparation for this article (and no, I didn’t buy all of them, I’m not that insane) — I’m pretty proud of them, and of course would be super flattered if anyone out there bought a pair. But more than anything, I hope they spur you, dear reader, to give the Nike By You platform a spin and create something truly unique that speaks to you personally. Believe me when I tell you that the compliments you inevitably receive will feel twice as good.
Nike React Live By You
Nike React Infinity Flyknit Run 2 By You
Nike Waffle One By You
Nike React Vision By You
Nike Air Max 97 By You
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