How Are Nike Basketball Shoes Made?


Overview of Nike Basketball Shoes

According to the company originated in 1964 under the name Blue Ribbon Sports. Founded by Phil Knight and track coach Bill Bowerman, it was created to “provide athletes with better shoes.” Crafting shoes by hand for his runners at the University of Oregon, Bill Bowerman was familiar with making athletic shoes. The website also states that in May of 2006 there were about 700 Nike factories in 50 countries. Nike basketball shoes became cemented as a powerhouse in 1985 with the making of the first Nike Air-Jordan basketball shoe.

How Traditional Nike Basketball Shoes Made

Manufacturing virtually any shoe involves tanning; cracking (part of processing oil for rubber and plastic); iron smelting/refining (using coke from coal, limestone to convert to “pig iron”); rubber manufacture (including oil and natural gas) among other processes. Once these raw goods are made they must be developed into things such as soles, eyelets, aglets and the uppers of the shoe. Modern manufacturing of Nike basketball shoes began with the Nike Air Force One. These were the first Nike basketball shoes made with the air cushion in the sole. Adding another feature increased the already resource-intensive process. The Nike Air Max UpTempo features visible air cushions done thorough the blow molding process. According to air cushion manufacturer Nike IHM’s website plastic pellets are made into rolls or sheets using specialized equipment that applies heat and pressure. Blow molding is done by inserting polyurethane that is injected with large molecules of pressurized gas into the soles, after the sole is formed.

Sustainable Nike Zoom Trash Talk Basketball Shoes

Attempting to rehab its' sometimes dubious image, Nike has introduced "green" shoes including the Steve Nash Nike Zoom Trash Talk Basketball shoe released in retail stores on Earth Day 2009. Taking advantage of scrap materials from manufacturing, the basketball shoe is being touted as an example of Nike's commitment to sustainability. According to the Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire website, the stitching on the uppers is from leather and synthetic leather wastes, the outsole is made of rubber with less toxins, shoe laces are made from recycled polyester and the shoes are packaged in a box made from 100 percent recycled fiber. Making Nike basketball shoes requires intensive manufacturing procedures that releases toxins and involves using many resources. In making basketball shoes such as the Trash Talk Nike is attempting to better this process.