Nike Chronicle Deluxe is a 338 page tome of trainers, track-tops and t-shirts made by The Swoosh in the glory days from 1971 to the end of the 80s.
We’ve just managed to get a few copies, so we thought we’d pester editor and trainer hoarder Tadayuki (that’s him in the striped t-shirt) to find out more…
Photos by Josh Rothery. Thanks to Taka for the help with the translation.
Okay, first things first, what is the Nike Chronicle? How did it come about?
Nike Chronicle is like the encyclopaedia for 1971 to 1980s vintage Nike items. In Japan, there are a few famous Nike collectors and they wanted to make a book that showcased their Nike products. In addition to that, I started noticing that I don’t come across good Nike vintage items as often as I used to. So I wanted to make a book before the vintage Nike items disappeared from the market.
Then a man named Mr Fujiwara from the vintage clothing store BerBerJin in Tokyo introduced me to a few crazy collectors and we decided to make something special.
As long as these collectors agreed to make the book, I knew that we could almost cover all the range of early Nike items.
How long did it take to put together the book? And where did all the trainers come from? Are they all yours, or are they from a few different people’s collections?
The early version of Nike Chronicle (the new issue is called Nike Chronicle Deluxe) only took about three months. We asked all the Nike collectors in Japan to send their sneakers over to me. We also borrowed some products from collectors based outside of Japan.
There are a few sneakers that we couldn’t get hold of, so we asked Nike’s headquarters if we could borrow some photos.
It seems like there’s a bit of mystery surrounding these old trainers… some would only be available in one country, and some might have only been made for a year or two. Was it hard to find the information about these trainers?
The information was gathered together from the old catalogues and advertising leaflets. There are three Japanese collectors that own vast amounts of these things, so we went through it all piece by piece…
The book covers trainers from 1971 until the end of the 80s. Why did you pick these dates? And are there plans to do another book from the 90s onwards?
On the labels on the tongues of the older sneakers, there is an orange Swoosh in block capitals. This is how seasoned Nike maniacs spot vintage Nikes. After those models, the sneakers aren’t as important for Nike maniacs. It was the running shoes that were the major base of Nike history and we thought that up until the early 80s was the key time for Nike.
We are not thinking of making any book that collects sneakers from the 90s. This generation of shoes has become very popular due to the trend of streetwear and hip hop culture. We understand the value of it, but the 90s sneakers are significantly different to the vintage Nike sneakers popular in Japan.
One thing you notice looking through the book is the bright colours that Nike used back in the 70s. Why were running shoes always such mad colours?
Nike started partnering (or collaborating, in today’s world) with many universities, and made school coloured models. The first university was Oregon University. At that time, it was common to have white base coloured running shoes. The 70s sneaker scene was almost conquered by adidas, so Nike had to do something to differentiate from it — in this case, using colours. You can see from what Nike made in their early days that they really paid attention to adidas’s products.
I’ve also noticed there’s a few trainers in there that look a lot like adidas trainers. The 1972 Wimbledon could easily be an adidas tennis shoe with those perforated stripes down the side. Do you know what was going on with these?
Nike was very conscious of Adidas and we can certainly say that there was a rivalry. The quality and the design were very much the same, but the price was slightly cheaper.
There’s also a Nike Forest Hills. What was the story with this?
It was released as a tennis shoe called Wimbledon in the early 70s and all the models had three lines of punched holes on both sides of the shoe. The difference between Wimbledon and Forest Hills is the sole. Forest Hills utilised a ‘Capsuled Gum Rubber Sole’ but it went out of production fairly soon. After that, Wimbledon started using a Swoosh design made of punched holes.
Around the late 70s, Forest Hills came back with a colourful swoosh on both side of the shoes. They became very popular because John McEnroe wore them.
What is it about Nike trainers you like so much?
What attracts me to Nike trainers is the usage of colours. In addition, they often have an interesting idea, or concept, like the Waffle sole. It could also be said that it’s interesting to see those sneakers from fashion’s point of view — they’re very radical and original. That’s one of the reasons why the brand has become popular not only for the athletes, but also for fashionistas.
When did you get into Nike? Do you remember the first Nike trainers you saw?
I was playing Basketball in junior high school and there were few super stars, like Michal Jordan, Charles Barkley wearing Nikes. My first basketball shoes were Air Jordan 5 and 180 Lo. I then bought a pair of blue and yellow Waffle trainers.
Do you lot like adidas trainers too, or is it strictly Nike’s?
I personally also like Adidas, especially a model called Haillet (which is the model before the Stan Smith). I always bought these, then wore them, then bought more. Unfortunately, these are now very expensive and I cannot buy so casually nowadays...
I really like Nike sneaker too, but my feet fit Adidas better than Nike. I wear Nike for fashion and Adidas for running and walking.
There’s some pretty mad stuff in the book. What’s the weirdest pair of trainers in there? And what’s your favourite pair of trainers in the book?
There is a sneaker called Snow Waffle featured in the new book. It was for walking on snow and it utilises the waffle sole.
My favourite shoe is probably Oregon Waffle or The Sting. I have been involved in the ‘vintage industry’ for a long time and I have personally recommended these as the best of sneakers. Although these sneakers aren’t as rare as other sneakers in the book, the colours and silhouettes are beautifully designed.
Maybe a tough question this one, but why do you think people love to collect things?
That really depends on people, as some people don’t collect anything. I’m actually a hoarder, and I collect anything to do with vintage items, like clothing to accessories. It’s difficult to answer why I collect things, but what I could say is that I love these things.
I also believe that without touching and wearing, you never fully understand the products.
So people who collect things want to feel how good the things are made or created.
One last question… any chance of an English language version of the book?
Unfortunately, there will not be English version published in the future…
Okay, fair enough. Cheers for answering the questions. Get the Nike Chronicle Deluxe here.