Buying and selling vintage Nike shoes is a huge business. It can be profitable to invest in old Nike’s, but it can also be tons of fun.
Maybe you have a chance to purchase the identical pair of running shoes you wore back in your track days.
Vintage Nike Shoes
Or maybe there’s a pair your favorite athlete wore when you were growing up—Nostalgia, style, culture, and profit.
Investing in and collecting vintage Nike shoes has never been more popular.
Phil Knight, the Shoe Dog
Recently I read Shoe Dog, the memoir written by Phil Knight. As co-founder of Nike back in 1964, the book chronicles the early struggles of the shoe company.
It tells the story of survival and eventual success, where now the brand is one of the most recognized in the world.
The book is full of incredible stories of how Phil Knight fought through obstacles time and time again to keep the company alive.
One specific breakthrough Phil made was the design of the track shoe. The ability to put out a great shoe that track stars wanted to wear was a turning point for the company.
Once Nike had one track star wearing their shoes, it gave them exposure to show their ability to create incredible designs.
Vintage Nike shoes are probably some of the coolest-looking sneakers of all time.
From the Cortez, which was one of the biggest hits at the young company, to the Oregon Waffle, which was specifically targeted to one single geographic area.
The Nike swoosh with original designs customized to a specific sport was a huge breakthrough.
Not only did Nike design shoes for specific sports, but they customized shoes for individual athletes, which was a new concept at the time.
The final sale price for a pair of original Nike Cortez sneakers easily reaches $400 – $500, even in used condition.
Bringing In The Nike Swoosh
In 1970, Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman started experimenting by pouring rubber into his wife’s waffle iron.
He soon discovered an innovation that would change the running world forever. It turned out that the waffle sole on a running shoe was a groundbreaking advantage over traditional track shoes.
From Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike
Later the following year, the company changed its name from Blue Ribbon Sports to Nike.
Named after the Greek goddess of victory, the brand hired Carolyn Davidson, a design student at Portland University, to come up with a logo for the new Nike shoe.
For $35, Carolyn produced the Nike “Swoosh,” and it became one of the most recognizable logos of all time.
The First Moon Shoe
In 1972 the first version of the “Moon Shoe” was produced. These were specifically designed for extremely athletic runners competing in the upcoming US Olympic trials. The shoes had to be perfect.
Shortly after that, Nike released the Cortez. This was the first shoe to feature foam for cushioning. The shoe was released in various colors for the next several years.
Nike Dunk Retro and Vintage Sneakers
“Dunks,” or Nike Dunk sneakers, are some of the most popular vintage Nike shoes of all time. The simple and timeless design keeps the old Nike Dunks relevant year after year.
When thinking about vintage shoes, you can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Michael Jordan and his Nike Air Jordan brand have become the sneaker world’s holy grail.
Original game-worn Air Jordan 1s sell at auctions for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The values for vintage Air Jordans have been steadily climbing for years.
It didn’t take long for high-top sneakers to hit the streets. Once Nike paired unique shoe designs with the world’s best athletes, they found a recipe for success and global footwear sales records. Everyone wanted to wear what the pros wore.
The Nike brand took-off because they offered comfortable shoes with top-notch performance, and not just quality material, but hip and trendy street cred. A footwear match made in heaven.
If you didn’t have a pair of Nikes, how would you step your game up like Jordan? Everyone wanted to “be like Mike,” which included lacing up his Nike shoes.
The Nike Moon Shoe
One of the original Nike track shoes from 1972 appears in the headlines every time it hits the auction block. A few years ago, the Nike Moon Shoe sold for nearly half a million dollars.
In the world of vintage Nike sneakers, and old-school kicks, the Nike Moon Shoe is retro royalty. It’s one of the rarest Nike shoes ever made, and it’s hard to imagine the price tag will ever come down.
Nike Air Max
One of the most recognizable Nike shoes is also a game-changer in the vintage sneaker world.
The original Nike Air Max was designed by Tinker Hatfield, a Nike design genius behind the Air Jordan line and several other smash hits.
The Air Max 1 original models were the first shoes to show the visible Nike Air unit in the sole, a mind-blowing concept when they were released.
When these shoes hit the scene for the first time, you were either wearing the Nike Air Max, or you wished you were wearing the Nike Air Max.
More than thirty years have passed since the first Air Max lifted off, and they have never gained more respect than they do today.
Few people know the origin of the Nike Air Max design, but it turns out, designer Tinker Hatfield was an architect before he became a shoe designer.
His first job at Nike was designing buildings and workspaces at the company headquarters.
When he saw the opportunity to create the Air Max, he took inspiration from the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
This building features visible functional parts, much like the visible air-sole unit in the Air Max.
Sneakerheads and vintage collectors know the Blazer name.
Tracing back to 1973, early models of the Nike Blazers were released when the company was just nine years old, as one of the first Nike basketball shoes.
Lately, they’ve moved into other sports, especially popular in the skateboarding community. The thick soles and ankle support make them great all-around retro sneakers.
Nike Air Force
Designed by Bruce Kilgore, the vintage Nike Air Force series is one of the most successful shoe lines in history.
As a functional basketball shoe, the Air Force line has been in production for decades.
Beginning with NBA players Moses Malone, Michael Cooper, Jamaal Wilkes, Bobby Jones, Mychal Thompson, and Calvin Natt, it didn’t take long for the Air Force model to spread from the NBA court to the streets around the world.
Retro and Vintage Nike Shoes
Shoe collectors have been buying and selling these Nike shoes for decades. The vintage Nike shoes from the ’70s & ’80s are some of the most expensive and sought-after sneakers ever made.
A pair of the original Waffle Racer shoes, nicknamed “Moon Shoe,” recently sold at auction for half a million dollars.
Whether you’re trying to make a fashion statement or just looking to add to your sneaker collection, you can’t go wrong with vintage Nike shoes.
Year after year, the cultural significance and values continue to climb.
Attic Capital – Writer, Editor, and Lifelong Collector
I would love to connect with you, so don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know more about your passion for collecting.