The green leather upper reflective rope laces were inspired by vintage army linen awnings, while the twill badge-like logos evoke the allure of gorgeous nature.
For the past five years, the proponents of the shoes have been mostly parents. But the Nike Air Monarch has evolved (though not noticeably) and its inspirations have spanned many different ideas, places and figures. Read the four-part abridged story of the Nike Air Monarch’s rise to fame.
Inspiration: Fast food
The idea for the original Nike Air Monarch came at a pivotal moment in the history of Nike Men’s Training. The direction of turf training slowed in the 90s, and Nike faced competition from brands that understood the frustrating problems of older men. It wasn’t Nike’s highest market, but it was a very stable market, and early Monarch leaders knew the brand needed impressive footwear to drive growth in the training sector again.
To put this strategy at work, the team found inspiration in fast food places.
“We had a long conversation about how everyone buys fries and soft drinks at fast food restaurants, as these items are seen as essential parts of food,” says Dave Schechter, VP of Nike Max Air Footwear and a former member of the Monarch merchandising team. . “We realized that we needed our version of the fries and soda shoes that served us as casual shoes in our line.”
Study: Theme Parks
The goal was to create a comfortable white leather shoe available on the market. The designers completed their early sketches of a variable-width shoe that was more comfortable (initial mood boards included a picture of a foot tumbling into a bucket of whipped cream). To find out more about the practical details that the target buyer would like to receive, the designers scoured the theme park to watch the American husband on summer vacation. Interviews with men in the park found desirable features for the shoe, such as a collar and tongue with matching cushioning.
Act Two: Midwest Basement
The decision to update the Nike Air Monarch I was made in 2003 after sales continued to rise month on month. To inspire the next iteration, the designer provided a small conference room on campus and decked it out with wood paneling, a leather chair and a neon beer sign – all to remember a setting that the ideal consumer can return to. The spectacle recalled the archetypal father in American popular culture, the one who wants to unwind after a long day at work. Instead of reviewing the design, the team only changed a few basic elements for the Nike Air Monarch II, including updating some of the interior structures, adding traction and a pivot point on the outsole for rotation, and adding texture in places that crinkle.
Cultural Representative: Pete Carroll
The third and fourth iterations of the shoe provided a fresher look. For example, the Nike Air Monarch III added full-length Nike Air shoes and increased herringbone traction to the outsole. The Nike Air Monarch IV later added perforations to increase speed.
In addition, social media channels have parodied the popularity of shoes in fashion already in 2013, but it is people who will push the shoes to a different cultural status. One person in particular was instrumental: Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who was first seen wearing the shoes while roaming the sides at USC.
“Undoubtedly, my favorite quality of monarchs is their style. They look good,” says Carroll. “And these are general use shoes – you can ride them everywhere and they travel well.”
Nike gave Carroll a personalized white and green colorway for the Seahawks regular season game. (“At this point, I’d like to think how MJ felt when he got his first Jordans,” Carroll jokingly said.) He praised the comfort of the Nike Air Monarch IV, and from that point on, the shoe shimmered steadily in the public eye as stylish the sports world (as well as street style icons) brought them into their wardrobes.The Nike Air Monarch quickly cemented a new nonsensical role as “fashion statement”.
“I’m never surprised that Monarchs is a fashion statement,” says Carroll. “I always thought there was a lot of potential for monarchs, especially given their comfort and style.”
The Nike Air Monarch IV Weekend Campout launches June 11 on SNKRS in North America, June 14 on SNKRS in Japan, and will be available in mid-July on nike.com in Europe.