When Nike debuted its first Flyknit shoes last year, the story was performance. The novel kicks were more like a second pair of socks than traditional trainers, eschewing conventional materials for a single piece of computer-knit fabric that resulted in a crazy lightweight piece of footwear. Runners wore them in last year’s summer Olympics, and common folk got to pretend like they were Olympians with the Nike Flyknit One+. Now, Nike’s taking Flyknit into the realm of fashion, with the HTM Flyknit Chukka ankle-high boot.
The shoes are a collaboration between big-time Nike designers Mark Parker and Tinker Hatfield--the latter is responsible for a dozen or so pairs of Air Jordans; the former has been the company’s CEO since 2006--and the Japanese designer (and streetwear legend) Hiroshi Fujiwara. They’re an interesting amalgam of styles--the silhouette of a boot, the sole of a sneaker, and the materials of a state-of-the-art sweater.
Initially, though, Flyknit and the chukka seem like odd bedfellows, at least in the conceptual sense. Who needs Olympic-level performance from a boot? But athletic performance is only part of Flyknit’s appeal. The woven upper section also yields two-thirds less waste than conventional running shoes during manufacturing. It’s not just about flexibility but sustainability, too.
And then there’s the matter of fit. In terms of how they feel on the feet, these form-fitting chukkas are probably closer to baby booties than clunky combat boots. Probably not the best choice for hiking, but certainly a comfortable (and eye-catching) alternative to your third pair of Clarks.
The Flyknit Chukkas will be available in two wintry colorways--gray with blue details, and blue with gray details, essentially--starting this month at select Nike retailers.