The Nike Free Woven has arrived at an odd time. Just as the Inneva Woven reappears, with its 5.0 sole and carefully interlocked strips on the upper, this enters the fray too. We’re students of the Air Woven and we still believe that it’s a shoe that’s responsible for spawning a certain strain of collector culture that’s still out there today (even though it mutated like Tetsuo in ‘Akira’ and went wildly out of control). With Mike Aveni, Mike Friton and Tinker Hatfield in the mix, the Nike Air Woven reminds us of an insane time for the Nike brand around the launch of Crooked Tongues, with Wovens, the Dunk creeping back onto sheaves, Alpha Project oddities all over the place and talk of a mysterious Innovation Kitchen facility on Nike’s WHQ campus. We loved the early 2000s.
At the time, we were fiercely puritanical about a shoe like the Air Woven — after those Probe (proto Tier Zero) drops of the original colours with the handcrafted feel, we sneered at some of the more widely produced pairs and their factory feel. We even turned our noses up at the prospect of a chukka version a year or so later. Nowadays, we can’t be quite so puritanical because the cynicism might build up inside us until we went on a smashing spree of some considerable magnitude. While we preferred the strange space genie shape the original sole unit gave this shoe, we can accept that if it had dropped in 2004, it would have had the Nike Free sipes on the sole and the 3.0 close-to-barefoot variety sits with the original back-to-nature, back-to-tradition concept of the shoe in a weird way.
Not as good as the individual parts that made it, the Nike Free Woven is still a comfortable summer wear for a generation who can’t remember just how much of an aura the original shoe carried when it dropped without ads or much of an explanation for a proto-hypebeast crowd. These are in the Crooked Tongues store now.