Nike first unveiled their React midsole technology last summer, as part of the Nike Hyperdunk 2017 and the Jordan Super.Fly 2017, two basketball sneakers. They followed that up with the Epic React Flyknit, a running silhouette. All three sneakers take advantage of React’s cutting-edge energy return functions. The Swoosh figured out a way to make a springy, yet durable midsole that redirects force, helping the wearer’s heel bounce along with each step.
Before discovering this state-of-the-art advancement, midsoles couldn’t have the best of both worlds. They could be bouncy, but they’d also be flimsy. Or they could be sturdy, but they’d have no give to them. React changed all of that.
But React, initially, wasn’t designed for performance. The first idea was to feature React on an everyday, walking around sneaker. Comfort was the concept.
The Nike React Element 87 delivers on that original objective. Featuring the first complete iteration of the React midsole, the Element 87 is a sneaker that the Swoosh says has been “optimized for the urban commute.”
“People are drawn to the shoe, because it has layers,” Darryl Matthews, Nike Sportswear Innovation Designer, says. “It’s not a flat shoe, and the way it looks depends on the socks you wear. It’s like when Nike exposed the Air bag, except now we’re able to expose the inside of the shoe, too.”
The sneaker’s translucent upper was directly inspired by the Nike Zoom Fly SP, a running model that had a see-through upper. Matthews and the team finished the Element 87 out with hits of suede and rubber on the outsole.
“The whole process was really a back-to-basics exercise that taught us new ways to make a shoe look and feel great, while also harnessing the power of cutting-edge computation design,” Matthews says.