Are You Ready to Love the Nike Roshe Run Again?


Earlier this month, Nike announced the imminent return of the Roshe Run. As soon as the news hit, the jokes and memes started pouring in from sneakerheads across the Internet, a testament to the model’s standing as one of the most wildly popular—and bizarrely contentious—sneakers of the 2010s. The original Roshe’s rise and fall remains, without question, among the most inexplicable sneaker culture stories of the last decade: How did such an innocuous design become one of the most hyped and profitable silhouettes in the Swoosh’s stable? And how did it go from widely beloved to widely mocked in the blink of an eye?

The Nike Roshe Run launched in 2012 and immediately found an audience. This was the era of sneakerheads rocking slim, pinrolled jeans and cuffed joggers with tech-forward runners like the Flyknit Racer. The running-inspired Roshe—with its bulbous white soles and simple mesh uppers—fit that look perfectly, and its $70 price tag and seemingly endless array of attractive colorways made it an instantaneous hit. “The Roshe Run paved the way for the comfort-first era that dominated sneaker culture in the 2010s,” says Jarrel Harris, a sneaker writer and digital content manager with the NBA. “It was an unexpected standout.”

It became, for a time, the sneaker of the moment. But then, as often happens among fickle sneaker fans, the shoe’s massive popularity eventually worked against it. Once the Roshe Run reached mainstream popularity—which, given its unfussy looks and uber-comfortable construction, it was always primed for—the shoe was deemed swagless and played out, and it quickly became the subject of ridicule amongst a certain strain of hypebeasts and fashion enthusiasts. (It’s a phenomenon that still happens today: just ask the Adidas Samba.)

“The Roshe Run lost some of its sauce due to the memes and the jokes.” Harris admits, “But its influence on sneaker culture was already cemented.” When you look at the modern sneaker landscape, that influence is undeniable. The Yeezy Boost 350 was initially knocked for being a Roshe clone, and the shoe’s fingerprints are present in everything from Alexander McQueen’s puffy-soled trainers to the ever-ubiquitous Allbirds.

Nike likely wasn’t all that bothered by sneakerheads turning on the Roshe, because the shoe’s profits kept piling up. The Swoosh stopped making the OG Roshe Run in 2014, but a litany of lookalike successors took its place—one of which, the Nike Tanjun, became the highest-selling shoe in America in 2017. For all the strawman disdain they incur amongst sneakerheads, “normies”—soccer moms, Florida retirees, midtown finance guys—have the power to make or break a shoe company’s bottom line. 

That, of course, explains why the Roshe Run is back again in 2023. Given Nike’s recent internal shakeup in the name of chasing “breakthrough innovation,” it might feel a tad cynical that the sneaker giant is reanimating yet another well-trod model from its archives. But that won’t matter much to the folks who will actually be copping new Roshes. “My dad can finally replace the pair he’s been wearing since 2013,” a buddy of mine said in a group chat. 

Even if they aren’t the target market, the question remains: Nearly a decade after the Nike Roshe Run last hit shelves, are diehard sneaker fans ready to embrace it again? The jury is still out. “I’m glad the Roshe is coming back, but I probably won’t buy a pair,” says Luis Torres, the editor-in-chief of NiceKicks. “I’ll most likely just admire them from afar.” On Twitter, reactions to the news range from excitement to confusion, though the user @scHoolboyRivas perhaps summed things up best: “Hate the fact Nike is making the Roshe Runs retro cause that just mean

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Are You Ready to Love the Nike Roshe Run Again?

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