NSW Fall 19 :
The Story of the Nike Daybreak Shoes
Immediately recognisable as a casual streetwear style, the Nike Daybreak model carries a rich history within its unassuming design. First seen in 1979, the design gained recognition after a custom pair was designed especially for American runner Joan Benoit Samuelson. Crafted with nylon uppers, an outsole with specific flex grooves and a plastic heel clip to slow her pronation, Benoits’s custom Daybreaks aided the American runner in winning gold during the first women’s Olympic marathon on August 5th 1984. Winning the race ahead of other competitors by 400m, the shoes had been designed especially to provide support throughout the grueling 26 mile course. Not only winning gold but also completing the route in a time that beat thirteen of the last men’s winners, Joan made history that day and so did the Nike Daybreaks.
Noticeably similar to the designs precursor - the Nike Tailwind - which also holds its own title within sports history having been worn by a selection of runners during the 1978 Honolulu Marathon and by British gold medal winner Steve Ovett just a year after its release. The simple silhouette of the Daybreak incorporates a number of innovative features that have led the style to have such a rich history. Inspired over breakfast one morning by his family’s waffle iron - which was subsequently ruined during the experimental phase of a new rubber tread design - Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman created the iconic urethane waffle outsole with protruding shaped studs, with a focus on providing a high level of grip suited to a variety of terrains and one that was more resistant to wear over time. Achieving this and more, the outsole changed the running-world forever.
Following ongoing releases of OG styles throughout 2019, Nike have reintroduced the Daybreak for the first time in thirty years. Retaining the simple low-silhouette, the latest iterations use of a mixture of textural materials that are accentuated by vibrant tonal colours. Across the latest pistachio frost and hyper violet edition, the lightweight shaped white foam midsole and protruding black waffle outsole remain a focal point of the design and achieve a high level of supportive comfort. Above this, the curved overlays over the uppers provide a background for a variety of attractive colourways that work to retain the Daybreak’s versatile appeal. A combination of suede and nylon mesh has been selected for the upper whilst signature leather Swoosh ticks differ in colour on either side panel. The woven tongue label bears a modernised design that can also be seen across new season apparel, whilst light green laces offer a secure fastening around the top of the foot.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Daybreak model, the design has taken on a new personality through a reworked design as part of the latest Nike x Undercover collaboration. Carrying a partnership that has been continually gaining momentum for almost ten years through ongoing GYAKUSOU capsule releases of functional athletic wear, the customised Daybreak model was introduced at the end of July this year as the duos first mainline project. Known for his part within the Ura-Harajuku scene in Tokyo during the 1990’s and for drawing inspiration from punk subcultures, Undercover founder Jun Takahashi’s take on the Daybreak was first unveiled during the brands spring/summer ‘19 presentation. With a futuristic look, the design has caused waves within streetwear through its elongated heel panels against speckled midsoles and nylon uppers with suede mudguards. Accompanied by transformative clothing made from performance materials, the release marks a new era for the Daybreak whilst holding the models history and iconic status in high regard.
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