Nike Huarache Sneakers

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Nike Huarache - the eccentric sneaker with exoskeleton

The Nike Air Huarache is one of the sneakers with the most unusual names in Nike history. But what is a Huarache? A Huarache is a shoe that is particularly popular in Mexico and whose history dates back to pre-Columbian times. It existed long before the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492 and is a simple sandal that was worn by Mexican farmers. The Huaraches became really popular in the USA with the hippie culture in the sixties. In fact, there are certain similarities between the Mexican sandal and the Nike Air Huarache. Above all, the closure system with the open heel is reminiscent of the shoe of the Mexicans.

The idea: A neoprene shoe with exoskeleton

The Nike Huarache is without a doubt one of Nike's most unusual and controversial models. It was designed by shoe designer Tinker Hatfield. The idea for the shoe came to Tinker Hatfield while waterskiing. He wore neoprene shoes that adapted to his foot and felt very comfortable. Thus, the idea of developing a sneaker from neoprene can be realized. It was the first attempt to use this material for the production of sports shoes.

Hatfield had already had the idea of developing a shoe held by an exoskeleton for some time. So he combined both ideas for the Nike Air Huarache. The exoskeleton gives the Nike Huarache the necessary stability, while the soft neoprene material ensures the high comfort of the sneaker.

The heel strap

The shoe did without the conventional stabilizers of sports shoes. Above all the so-called sales counter, that is the stabilizer of the heel, should be missing with this model. Instead Hatfield developed a strap for the rear shoe, which should give the foot, similar to a sandal, support. This belt also became a dominant design element of the Nike Air Huarache.

No swoosh

Hatfield did without the Nike Swoosh for this sneaker, making it one of the few models to do without the Nike logo as a design element.

The Air sole

For the sole of the Nike Air Huarache, the development team used the proven Air concept. Like all sneaker models from the Air series, the Huarache also has an air padded sole that provides good cushioning.

Originally designed as a running shoe, the Nike Huarache is now popular as a lifestyle sneaker. But it almost never happened, because when Hatfield presented his shoe in 1991, Nike's management was initially skeptical. It took a lot of persuasion until the shoe was finally produced in series.

The Nike Air Huarache became a successful model

Despite all the skeptics, the Nike Air Huarache was a success. In 1991 it was considered a real innovation. The concept with the exoskeleton was even transferred to a basketball shoe. But a few years later, the Huarache almost completely disappeared from the scene before celebrating a big comeback in 2015.


As so often in the history of Nike sneakers, the company decided to re-release one of its retro classics in 2015. In a new edition, the shoe was even more successful than when it was first introduced. To this day it has appeared in numerous designs and variations and new Colorways are still coming onto the market.

Nike Huarache Versions

In the meantime different versions of the Huarache are available in the trade like for example the Air Huarache Run, the Air Huarache Run Ultra and the Huarache Run Utility Premium. These versions differ mainly in design, but some also have a different upper material such as mesh or leather instead of neoprene.

How's the Nike Huarache turning out?

The shoe is slightly smaller, so most customers buy it about one size larger than other Nike shoe models.

The most important data:
  • Brand: Nike
  • Model: Huarache
  • Year: 1991
  • Designer: Tinker Hatfield
  • Special feature: upper material made of neoprene
  • Fit: slightly smaller
  • Design: no swoosh, air sole, heel strap
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