A win for the Swoosh?
Over at Complexcon 2018 in Long Beach, California, the annual sneaker convention declared that the React Element 87 is the sneaker of the year, followed by the Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 97/1. While the debate on both shoes is whether a new design is better than a remixed one, I do think that the React Element 87 deserves the top honors over the Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 97/1.
As someone who owns a pair and used it as part of his daily rotation, here are some of my thoughts about why the React Element 87 is deserving of the recognition:
Since adidas introduced Boost in 2012, it took more than five years for Nike to find a fitting response to the Three Stripes’ game-changing cushioning tech. While it does not involve thousands of TPU pellets, React foam uses a specially-formulated foam that delivers both durability and optimal energy response. The React Element series took it a step further, as the midsole and outsole are scientifically designed to give the most optimal cushioning and support in key areas.
People may find the unconventionally-designed outsole strange, but based on my experience, it delivers better comfort than adidas’ Boost-equipped kicks. The very visual appearance of a foot’s pressure map showcased the inner workings of the shoe while looking stylish at the same time.
The React Element 87’s translucent upper is an attention grabber, and it is for a reason: it is meant to showcase the inner workings of the shoe. By doing so, it gave the React Element 87 a deconstructed vibe that is all the rage nowadays. In addition, the translucent upper works as a fashion statement as well, as it lets the wearer showcase their sock swag better while rocking the sneaker itself.
Speaking of deconstructed vibe, the React Element 87 has them in the right places: exposed stitching at the toebox, medial side, and heel cap area, layered materials for the eye stay, and a padding-free inner lining. Even its selection of materials give the React Element 87 a luxe vibe, thanks to suede detailing on the upper and liner, cork insoles, and 3M accents.
If translucent uppers aren’t your thing and you are not willing to pay resell prices, the React Element 87 has an affordable alternative with the React Element 55. While you lose the Element 87’s crazy upper and cork insoles, you get the same futuristic React sole, the same deconstructed vibe, and roughly the same comfort with the Element 55. Even better is that it is easy to get a pair of Element 55s locally.
Having two versions of the React Element is one of the better decisions Nike has made: by doing so, it makes its sneaker-of-the-year-worthy silhouette accessible to a wider crowd. Some may say that it kills the hype, but just like what I said about the Yeezys, accessibility to a sneaker matters more at the end of the day, unless you are a hardcore collector who is willing to shell out cash.