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Nike Free: The natural evolution

Nike Free: The natural evolution
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In association with Nike, Inc.

“It’s all about the feet. It’s not about the shoes.”

- Bill Bowerman

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Nike Free design, guided by the design philosophy of natural motion, was first introduced to mimic the biomechanics of running barefoot. This summer, it celebrates its 10th anniversary with new models and the re-release of its originals.

This design philosophy is relevant today more than ever. Ushering in a new era in training, Nike works closely with world-class athletes from different sport categories. These include basketball all-star and early adopter of natural motion Kobe Bryant, world champion sprinter Allyson Felix, football all-pro Richard Sherman, decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, and mixed martial arts athlete Jon Jones.

The Nike Free design continues to promote natural motion, something that Kenyan athletes such as Eunice Sum (2013 World Champion in the 800M), Abel Mutai (2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the 3,000M steeple chase), and Micah Kogo (2008 Olympic bronze medalist in the 10,000M) know too well. And the culmination of more than a decade of research and testing is the 2014 Nike Free running collection.

But before we celebrate the Nike Free of today, let us look back at the roots of this revolutionary design. It all started with Nike co-founder and track and field coach Bill Bowerman, who is obsessed with stripped-down high-performance running footwear.


Bowerman became coach to Tobie Hatfield.


Hatfield joined the Nike design team.


Nike designers, including Hatfield, visited Stanford University and observed how barefoot training was strengthening the track team’s feet.


Hatfield found inspiration from the ice cube tray, from which the Nike team designed a new kinetic last, which has become the driving symbol for natural motion and flexibility.


Nike’s sport research lab tested the early samples of the first Nike Free 5.0.


The first Nike Free 5.0 was launched, introducing a new understanding of biomechanics into performance footwear.


The Nike KOBE 9 Elite was launched as the first basketball shoe to employ natural motion-enabling Nike Flyknit technology.

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The Nike Free design celebrates its 10th year with the introduction of eight new models, the re-release of six definitive Nike models (Genealogy of Free) that paved the way to the Nike Free of today, and two models (Nike Free Breathe and Nike Free OG) that pay tribute to the classic design.




Six models that have been instrumental to the development of Nike Free will be re-released in black in spring 2014.

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