Are you wondering which sneakers are the most popular Nike shoes? In this article, let’s explore Nike’s most popular shoes and find out how each shoe has managed to gather so much love.
Nike’s most popular shoes (top 6)
Based on Google Search, Nike’s most popular shoes include the Nike Air Force One, Nike Dunk, Nike Air Jordan, Nike Air Max, Nike Cortez, and the Nike Blazer.
1. Nike Air Force One
The most popular Nike shoe is, without a doubt, the Nike Air Force 1. According to court documents, Nike states they make US $800 million in sales from Air Force 1s per year.
The shoe’s staying power is best attributed to its accessibility and versatile design but has been made popular over the years thanks to strategic collaborations with famous celebrities.
In fact, the Nike Air Force One was popular enough to inspire a top-10 rap single, and is often worn by style icons such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, and Billie Eilish.
The popularity isn’t a fluke either. Some experts believe that the shoe will “never go out of style”. It’s basic enough for casual and athletic styles, yet stylish enough for high-end fashion trends.
In the year 2005 alone, Nike reported that it had sold more than 12 million pairs of the Air Force One shoes, and that was more than 20 years after the shoe’s debut in 1982.
Today, the Air Force 1 sneaker continues to sell at a rate of about 10 million or more pairs per year, sitting on top as the undisputed king of the most popular Nike sneakers ever.
2. Nike Dunk
Somewhere before 2005, Nike took notes of Jeff Staple’s work as a graphic designer. Nike then proposed he be part of the projects for the anniversary of the Dunk, the shoe born in 2002.
Jeff and his team decided that nothing like pigeons would best represent the Big Apple vibe. The colorway was also inspired by the bird: three different grays, black and white areas.
“In the end, we decided that the pigeon was the unofficial mascot of New York City. Not everyone would get it, but the people who lived and breathed here would.”– Jeff Staple (on the design of the shoe)
Not only did the people get it, but the people also wanted it badly.
The release of Staple’s Dunks, doused in feathery gray suedes with an embroidered pigeon along the heel, caused a riot outside of his Reed Space boutique in the Lower East Side.
What happened that day in February 2005 is a turning point that transformed the passion for sneakers and collectors, elevating the Nike Dunk into a cult of its own.
This was only one of the countless collaborations Nike had done with the Air Max line. Notable collaborations increased the hype while limited stock drove the prices up even further.
Another collaboration with Travis Scott and Playstation (to market the release of the PS5), for example, has been the catalyst of Nike’s most desired sneakers of the past few years.
In fact, over the year 2022, interest in Nike Dunks grew 147% compared to the year before, putting it at a current volume of 1.1 million searches per month, as of last month.
3. Nike Air Jordan 1
The first Air Jordan shoe was made for Hall of Fame former basketball player Michael Jordan during his time with the Chicago Bulls in late 1984 and released to the public on April 1, 1985.
It may look simple now, but Michael Jordan’s first shoe single-handedly reversed Nike’s fortunes in the mid-’80s, establishing a signature line so popular it eventually became its own brand.
Sure, there are other sneakers that offer better cushioning, but the Air Jordan 1 is one of Nike’s most popular shoes because it is the first signature shoe for the greatest basketball player ever.
In fact, the popular men’s monthly magazine, GQ, claims the Air Jordan 1 isn’t merely the most important sneaker in Nike’s history. It’s the most important sneaker, period.
4. Nike Air Max
The Nike Air Max isn’t just one shoe. Instead, it is a sneaker line of multiple shoes that are highly popular. Chief among them is the Nike Air Max 270, beloved for its massive air bubble.
In addition to its incredible cushioning, the shoe was introduced simply with photos of its many colorways being teased days to build hype before each of the shoe’s drops.
There was no “big name” celebrity behind the shoe or even an athlete to endorse the sneaker. Instead, many internet influencers are tapped to star in its campaign.
Another factor that boosted Air Max’s popularity is the gender-full marketing approach. From the start, women were included in the launch, something that is rare for the sneaker market.
Sneaker industry advisor, trend tracker, and market predictor Matt Powell of the NPD Group (a market research company) has released his Sneakerenomics 2021 Year in Review report.
In the report, you can find Nike Air Max models like the Air Max 270 and Air Max 97 claiming 50% of the spots. The Air Max 270 sits at number 2 while Air Max 97 sits at number 5.
This just goes to show how popular the Nike Air Max line is. With models like the 270 showcasing its modern aesthetics and lightweight cushioning to the general population.
5. Nike Cortez
The Cortez is arguably the most notorious Nike shoe on this list. It has been linked with violent gang members and crimes. Many people question whether it’s safe to wear shoes or not.
Immediately upon release, the Cortez was a hit, helping the company hit its end-of-year revenue projections. It was so popular that it caused a whole host of inventory problems for Blue Ribbon.
In the book “Shoe Dog”, the founder of Nike had this to say about the Cortez:
“It was simply too popular. We’d gotten people hooked on the thing, turned them into full-blown Cortez addicts, and now we couldn’t meet the demand, which created anger and resentment up and down the supply chain.”– Phil Knight
A big reason why it’s become so popular across generations is the shoe’s prominent swoosh and herringbone pattern outsole. It has also been a staple in pop culture.
The Nike Cortez is now ubiquitous. Nike has made more than 700 versions of the shoe, collaborating with the likes of Bella Hadid, Kendrick Lamar, and Stranger Things (Netflix show).
6. Nike Blazer
The Nike Blazer was first released in 1973 as a basketball shoe, just two years after Blue Ribbon Sports gained a new ‘Swoosh’ logo and changed its name to Nike.
Over the past few years, the Nike Blazer is experiencing a massive resurgence. What started out as a basketball shoe back has morphed into a modern and stylish sneaker.
According to Glimpse, a company that tracks every topic across the internet to identify growing trends, interest in Nike Blazers grew 54% over the year 2022, compared to the year before.
As of November 2022, Nike Blazers gathered over 177,000 searches per month online. The shoe is talked about mostly on TikTok, where users are already talking mostly about sneakers.