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A Brief History of the Nike Shox Line

brief history nike shox

The idea of mechanical cushioning was first explored by Bruce Kilgore, the designer of the Air Force 1, way back in 1984. However, it took over 10 years for Nike Shox to come to fruition.

Back in the mid-’80s, biomechanical experiments with the goal of optimizing energy return became the focus of several Nike designers and engineers. According to Nike, they added steel springs to a running shoe’s midsole to see if it would improve running economy, and a year later they tried a multi-layer leaf-spring heel unit.

Throughout the 1980s, Nike continued experimenting with different hinges and mechanical columns, until finally, in 1997, the solution of twin plates with foam columns became Nike Shox.

The sneakers hit the retail market in big numbers by 2000 and ushered in several different builds that used the foam columns. You may remember the Nike ads from the time, which featured Gary Payton, Vince Carter, and that classic boing.



brief history nike shox
Decades before Shox was released in commercial footwear, the project started with this contraption engineered by Bruce Kilgore.


Nike shox r4 2000
The first Shox product, the R4, hit shelves in 2000.



nike shox bb4 sketch eric avar
The first Shox basketball shoe, the Shox BB4, was designed by Eric Avar. This is an original sketch of the shoe.


nike shox stunner 2002 aaron cooper
The Shox Stunner was designed by Aaron Cooper and worn by the 2002 NCAA tournament winners.


Nike Shox TL 2003
Nike Shox TL — it was a beast, and heavy like one.



nike shox glamour 2004 serena williams
This Nike Shox Glamour was made in 2004 for Serena Williams to wear during play in Flushing — she styled it with an unforgettable over-the-calf boot cover for warm-ups.
serena williams shox
NEW YORK – AUGUST 27: Tennis star Serena Williams shows off Nike Shox Boots from her Serena nyc 2004 collection at Niketown August 27, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Getty Images for Nike)
serena williams shox 2
(Photo by Getty Images for Nike)
Nike shox VC II 2004
An unreleased colorway of 2004’s Shox VC II.


Nike Shox TLX mid SP 2014
Nike Sportswear released this eye-grabbing edition of the Nike Shox TLX Mid SP in 2014.


nike shox gravity 8
The Nike Shox Gravity is a brand new build of Shox technology for the new generation.

After the Shox line fanned out to include builds for basketball, running, and tennis, the shoes were everywhere. In Europe the line is still pursued by collectors, and you can see people rocking Shox nearly every day in the New York subway.

Now, Nike’s Shox system is back for 2018 with the Shox Gravity. 25 different variations on the new sneaker will release during 2018, but Nike has not announced any pricing information yet.

nike shox gravity 9


Source: Nike

  1. I love the concept(still do), if only they put the columns horizontal, instead of vertical(to make ’em work), or of course, drop a full-length Zoom back over it.

    1. I don’t understand how it would work horizontally.. maybe I’m missing something on how the shox system work. But basic physics for cushioning is vertical impact right?

    1. Hexalite was not a gimmick. It was one of the best cushion systems at the time & would still be great today if produced the original way. Chris talks about it all the time.

  2. Addendum to my first post.

    Hexalite was a great concept, but not well executed. The honeycomb is a great idea, but uniform cell size and thickness doesn’t work too well. It is/was too thin. Thankfully, their mid to late 90s foam worked well with it.

    Puma executed the honeycomb idea much better with their trinomic and cell tech. They varied the cells by height, width, thickness, and density.

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