NIKE DAYBREAK’S DOUBLE LIFE

Many were surprised when Sacai chose the Nike Daybreak as one of the base-sneakers for their new and remixed model. Created for the first time in 1979, since then it has been kept almost hidden away, without any kind of massive launches and re-editions. However, the Nike Daybreak can boast about having done the jump from performance sports to fashion.

The running boom in the sixties meant the massive incorporation of women to the sports world. It was such a quick step that even the International Olympic Committee took years to accept and to include the women’s marathon as an official sport at the Games. It was in Los Angeles 1984 and the first victor was American Joan Benoit, which many people knew for her victories in Boston, but also for a Nike ad in which she shared the limelight with the Daybreak.

The sneaker had become her training shoe throughout her last few years, but Joan started to have problems when Nike stopped making them. Benoit’s obsession for the Daybreak took her to look for them all around the world until finding a small package that had never been delivered in Brazil. The quest to find those last few pairs turned into such a legendary story as Benoit’s own victories.

For two decades, the Daybreak was a model that was only remembered by Joan Benoit’s followers. Until two decades later when Junya Watanabe contacted Nike to ask for something that was very special; old sneakers. To complete the image of the 2007 summer collection, Watanabe was in search of footwear in which the passing of time could be appreciated, they had to be old models, but taken out of an archaic warehouse. Instead of giving him sneakers that would disintegrate on the catwalk, Nike proposed him to recover some retro running models to age them artificially. Those sneakers became the most coveted of Watanabe’s collection.

After the first surprise, Nike even went and offered them for sale in a collection of aged sneakers that shortly after became the trend of the moment. All brands stayed away from the whiteness of brand-new midsoles and launched products that seemed to have lived several lives. Just as it happened with jeans, an aged sneaker was able to tell stories.

Sacai’s choice mixed two legacies in one same sneaker, Joan Benoit’s performance and Watanabe’s style. Nowadays, the Daybreak is being re-released in new colourways that are inspired by the moment in which the American athlete turned them into a myth. Joan Benoit, at 62 years old, keeps running marathons at surprising timings. And the Nike Daybreak still have a long way to go.