The original Air Rift is, like the Sock Racer, Presto, and Mayfly, an influential ancestor of the natural motion, Free Run movement. Inspired by barefoot, Kenyan runners (the Rift name was taken from a Kenyan province, and not the split toe design), the Air Rift’s minimalist yet progressive design turned a lot of heads. In an era dominated by heavily cushioned, tech silhouettes, the idea that this was a running shoe seemed absurd.
The design was remembered fondly as being unique, even by Nike’s standards, and the shoe’s enduring cult status led to a widespread rerelease last year.
For 2016, the Air Rift is the subject of a modern makeover. It seems odd to say that such a unique shoe has been updated, but NikeLab has taken the Air Rift sole unit and transformed a very specific running performance shoe into a minimalist must have for summer.
The exposed forefoot and straps have given way to a breathable, lightweight mesh, one piece upper. The redesigned upper wraps around the foot, hence the name.