Nike’s ISPA 2020 footwear has echoes of old

ISPA

Nike’s ISPA label, born in November 2018, stands for the philosophy of Improvise, Scavenge, Protect and Adapt.

ISPA aims to create a product capable of taking on the “unique and shifting challenges of the human-made environment”. The focus is on performance and utility for consumers, not on a specific sport.

Its 2020 range features five new sneaker silhouettes — the ISPA Zoom Road Warrior (released on 10 July), ISPA Overreact FK (9 July), ISPA Flow 2020 (13 August) and ISPA Drifter (1 September) — all accompanied by versatile jackets and tops, all crafted with a modern urban lifestyle in mind.

“This is built for the busy, big-city lifestyle,” Nate Jobe, senior footwear creative director of Nike special projects, told Forbes. “We scavenge our archive a lot, find a city insight we need to solve for and go back to the archive and see if a sport did something similar. We will look into those things, dive in and take from that and create the new. I am proud to say if you remove the Nike Swoosh from ISPA you still see a Nike shoe.”

Nike, ISPA, Nike's ISPA

The Road Warrior sneaker is designed for regular movement. Pulling inspiration from running, basketball, training and outdoor footwear, it juxtaposes the open heel of Nike Shox with double-stacked Zoom Air cushioning units and underfoot plates. This provides a nod to other modern Nike shoes like the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% and Air Zoom BB NXT, while the strap-secured knit upper draws from training and hiking shoes.

Nike, Nike's ISPA, , ISPA, Overreact

The Overreact, a knit silhouette with an asymmetrical collar and beefy React foam midsole, originally debuted in a special Prodisim ISPA zine. It uses data culled from geometries of past React silhouettes like the React Element 87 for a midsole that’s tuned to the natural movement of the foot. This ensures maximum cushion and minimal bulk — even sockliners and strobels were removed, enabling the wearer to sit directly above pillowy React foam.

Nike, ISPA, Overreact Sandal

The Overreact’s DNA is also copied for an Overreact Sandal. This hybrid style mixes visible and hidden layers on its stacked upper for a breezy fit, while the React foam midsole uses an abstract tread pattern for a nod to improvised traction systems. These pieces combine to make the collection’s most summer-ready style, one that looks somewhat like a futuristic Nike ACG project.

Balancing breathability and structure, the Flow 2020 uses a stripped-down upper with cut-out detailing on the midfoot and a synthetic construction. This bold build aims to solve a common problem — hot feet in the summer months — by applying innovative heatmapping logic from performance footwear, and serves up a full-foot React midsole for exemplary comfort.

The Drifter makes a play on a 1996 Japanese work boot with split-toe construction, external webbing to create stability and a tongue that cinches in the front and back. Using regrind Nike ZoomX foam — a component of Nike’s fastest running shoes —for a lightweight cushioning system, the Drifter plays heavily on scavenging materials.

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