10 Awesome Nike Kicks Featuring Unconventional Materials


With new AM90 and LeBron 12 releases utilizing cork & rubber, respectively, for upper construction, peep other past Nike’s which have featured unconventional materials.

ESPO x Nike Air Force II Low

Year Released: 2004

Sure, plastic materials are used on sneakers all the time, but pretty sure no one saw the use of clear plastic coming as the defining characteristic of a shoe on the upper when this Air Force II Low dropped in 2004. As part of Nike’s second “Artist Series,” graffiti artist ESPO was responsible for this head-turning creation. Boasting his signature art stylings both inside and out, these kicks also came with a special pair of socks that were naturally intended for you to rock any time you laced these jewels up.

Nike SB Dunk "Three Bears" Pack

Year Released: 2006

Boasting the same type of cuddly faux fur you’d find on any stuffed animal, the Nike SB “Three Bears” Pack featured a Dunk Low, Mid and High. The children’s book Goldilocks and the Three Bears served as inspiration for each of these furry makeups with the low being known as Baby Bear, the mid Mama Bear and the high Papa Bear.

atmos x Nike Air Max 1/95 "Animal Pack"

Year Released: Late 2006/Early 2007

The atmos x Nike Air Max 1 and Air Max 95 “Animal” releases were sure-fire head turners and both makeups featured multiple animal prints utilizing faux-fur construction. You would think with the use of so many different materials and prints that these would be a busy mess, but both iterations look really dope. Dropping as an Asia-exclusive release late in 2006, US heads had a minimal chance at these with select shops receiving pairs early in 2007.

Nike Trash Talk

Year Released: 2008

When it comes to 2008s Nike Trash Talk release, it’s the source of the materials used on the upper which make this sneaker unconventional. Boasting leather and synthetic leather waste straight from the shoe factory floor, even the midsole takes advantage of excess ground foam that also made its way to the factory floor. Modeled after the Nike Zoom BB II Low, which was Steve Nash’s shoe at the time, the box these bad boys came in also featured fully recycled cardboard.

DJ Clark Kent x Nike Air Force 1 Low "Black Friday"

Year Released: 2008

It’s no secret that DJ Clark Kent has quite an affinity for the Air Force 1 and back in 2008 he linked up with Nike to produce this particular makeup for Black Friday. Aside from the eye-catching use of black pony hair which occupies most of the upper, lenticular materials are used to cover the Swoosh and heel while a patent shine glosses over the midsole.

CLOT x Nike 1World Air Force 1

Year Released: 2009

When it comes to producing dope collabs with Nike, CLOT has to rank right up there with anybody in terms of always coming with something fresh and different. For 2009s Air Force 1 1World design, the crew at CLOT delivered an iteration which featured the use of silk material and the upper actually had two layers stacked on top of each other as CLOT wanted to encourage individual customization as heads could burn, peel or tear away at the top layer to reveal what was underneath. From the exposed Max Air in the heel to the black waxed laces, these kicks were just all-around awesome.

Nike Air Trainer 1 Mid & Air Max 1 "Seersucker"

Year Released: 2009

Clean, crispy seersucker material was the weapon of choice for Nike back in 2009 when it cooked up these iterations of the Air Trainer 1 Mid and Air Max 1. If you had to pick one pair of sneakers to rock on Easter, these Air Max 1s would certainly be fitting. And as far as the Air Trainer 1 Mids are concerned, those gum soles are everything…not to mention the button on the strap too. Fire.

Geoff McFetridge x Nike SB Dunk High "Paper"

Year Released: 2011

The most interesting entry on this list also ranks as the least wearable. Limited to just 24 unique pairs, these Dunks were designed by artist Geoff McFetridge for the opening of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ (MOCA) “Art in the Streets” exhibit back in 2011. Each pair’s upper is completely constructed out of paper which is composed of McFetridge’s original artwork. If you were lucky enough to get your hands on a pair, it’s pretty safe to say these will be one that will always remain DS.

LeBron X EXT "Cork"

Year Released: 2013

The hype started right away when heads first caught glimpse of the “Cork” LeBron X EXT makeup and for goood reason, the kicks were all-around dope. Featuring dark brown leather covering the tongue and lining the inside, rope laces and contrasting red lace eyestays were the perfect compliment to the all-cork upper. While these kicks carried a hefty retail tag and were super tough to get your hands on, these were one pair of LeBron’s you definitely were not lacing up for the bball court.

Nike Roshe One NM W SP "Country" Pack

Year Released: 2014

Tech Fleece apparel has been one of Nike’s most popular product lines recently and the performance fabric found its way onto the upper of the Roshe One in the form of the “Great Britain,” “France” and “Brazil” Nike Roshe One NM W SP releases in 2014. The “Great Britain” edition proved to be the most popular of the initial bunch and heads were loving both the look and comfort of these trainers.


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