Earlier this year, Nike brought back its 20-year-old Air Kukini silhouette in the boldest way it could with an all-over cheetah print. A striking “Lemon Venom” variant with green-to-blue gradient followed, and now the Swoosh is taking the retro sneaker back to basics with three new color schemes that play on its classic roots.
Let’s get Kukini — The first of the three pairs is done up in “Triple Black” from toe to heel. A quick drying mesh upper, leather overlays, and the famous plastic caging dress up the kicks — all of which sit on a bed of modernized Air Zoom cushioning. The all-black version is the simplest of the trio and slightly resembles the Nike Air Max Plus with its glossy accents.
For a more militaristic and earth-toned version, the second pair features an olive green mesh upper, brown sole and accents, and a mud-colored TPU cage. Shades of light cream and gray dress the third pair of the Kukini, complete with a semi-translucent white webbing. In typical fashion, Nike branding is kept to a minimum with tiny Swooshes near the collar.
It’s classic for a reason — Elements of the retro sneaker have appeared on more modern Nike kicks, including the ventilated sole on the water-draining ACG Air Zoom AO and the mesh base of Stussy’s Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Cage 2 collab. The Kukini doesn’t have laces, but the soft upper and spiderweb cage give it support and flexibility, whether you’re on a hike or flexing on the ‘Gram.
Those unaware of its history might think the Kukini is just an attempt to feed into the Y2K revival, but it’s actually much more. In the 2000s, Nike launched the Alpha Project, an initiative that brought a new wave of futuristic kicks, including the Air Presto. The webbing was inspired by the speed suit of Olympic skier Picabo Street, and after a brief slumber in the 2010s, it looks like the Kukini is back on Nike’s output radar.
All three of the upcoming Nike Air Kukinis will retail for $135 through Nike and select retailers. Resale prices aren’t too bad with pairs already listed on StockX in the low hundreds. An official release date is still under wraps, but with Nike revamping the classic silhouette, it looks like it’s the year of the Kukini.