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Nike Air More Uptempo 96; A Homage To Wilson Smith | Wellgosh

Nike have been killing it this year with retro’d archived kicks from the Air family and beyond, and the Air More Uptempo is no exception. This chunky, fearlessly unique trainer started its life as a basketball shoe 26 years ago, worn by Scottie Pippen in the 1996 NBA finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Seattle Sonics. The shoe also made an appearance in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the 1997 family favourite, George of the Jungle. The obnoxiously oversized ‘Air’ side motif made the Uptempo instantly recognisible, becoming a go-to for those with an outspoken, non-apologetic and non-conforming sense of style; the same energy that brought bright and eye-catching kicks to the basketball court against the strict footwear regulations of the NBA in years gone by.

The Nike Air More Uptempo 96 in Sail/Black/Light Thistle/Pink Foam were created as an homage to one of the most prolific, yet under-discussed designers of Nike’s team; Wilson Smith III. Since the beginning of his career with Nike in 1983, Smith was appointed the first dedicated designer for Brand Jordan and created the Air Max Uptempo and the Air Max CB34 during what’s considered by fans as the ‘golden era’ of Nike’s shoe designs in the 1990s. Smith graduated from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts from the University of Oregon with a degree in architecture, using his experience to design “homes for the feet” and would go on to be named one of America’s Top Black Designers by Black Enterprise Magazine, also becoming senior designer for Nike Tennis Footwear and the Jordan Brand in 1990, the director of Nike Court in 2003 and now works as a creative catalyst for the special operations department of Nike, Nike Zoo.

This version of the Nike Air Uptempo feature a ripstop upper with a gradient colourway, with the iconic graffiti-inspired ‘AIR’ side motif in a clean leather overlay with reflective 3M trims and ‘12.05.1983’ (Smith’s start date at Nike) to the tongue. The right insole showcases Smith’s signature, with the left displaying an excerpt from the Philippians Bible passage “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves”. Three swoosh motifs can be seen, as an embroidered design on the toe, a cutaway on the heel and a 3D logo to the midsole. The midsole itself contains Air Bubble technology, with a chunky rubber outsole for grip on and off the court. The shoes come in a limited edition box, perfect for sneakerheads or Nike collectors.

Shop the Nike Air More Uptempo 96 and many other options in-store and online at Wellgosh.com.

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