Aaron Cooper, the iconic designer behind some of The Swoosh’s greatest models, including those for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Serena Williams, is known for his innovative and diverse catalog of sneakers. With over 20 years of experience, Cooper’s collaboration with the Beaverton brand has produced numerous unreleased gems, such as this outdoor-inspired basketball shoe.
Every Sunday, Cooper treats fans to a trip down memory lane on his Instagram, sharing the stories behind his past designs. From the ACG Ruckel Ridge to the Air Pippen 1, Cooper now reveals the tale behind an insect-inspired silhouette. Inspired by the agility and strength of a beetle shell, he sketched the design in February 1997. These sketches corresponded with Nike’s new outdoor concept “Live, Breath, Sleep,” paying tribute to the basketball players who pushed themselves to exhaustion on the blacktop.
Crafted to withstand the demands of outdoor competition, this silhouette featured the brand’s most durable rubber compound, while Kevlar unexpectedly made an appearance, wrapping around the midsole for increased longevity. Thick rope laces and a sweat-wicking poly mesh lining provided essential ventilation during intense runs under scorching conditions. Additionally, the upper boasted breathable perforations throughout its thick “Comfort E” full-grain leather construction.
The wavy aesthetic of the upper is reminiscent of the 90s era, when Nike embraced bulkier silhouettes and showcased visible Max Air cushioning systems. In this particular design, Max Air technology comes into play, along with a concealed Zoom unit in the forefoot. The jewel swoosh, a staple of the 90s, was chosen for this unreleased proposition, continuing the trend set by the Lambaste 2 and the Air Alonzo.
Take a detailed look at the sketches of this unreleased pair below, which would have retailed for $110, as shared by Cooper himself. Stay tuned for the next installment in Cooper’s Sneaker Story Sunday series, as we eagerly await his next revelation.