The Process | NikeLab Free Rift

NikeLab just unveiled it’s latest creation, the NikeLab Free Rift Sneaker/Sandal hybrid, an update to the original Air Rift that were released back in ’96. They also graciously provided some of the initial sketches and story behind the design/development of the new, aesthetically striking Free Rift.

“Originally developed as protective training footwear for volleyball athletes, the NikeLab Free Rift Sandal features hexagonal flex grooves to achieve a natural and barefoot feel. To increase the shoe’s longevity, durable rubber pods were added to the outsole in high friction areas.” –

A mixture of both the previous Rift sneaker and Nike Free technology, the Free Rift moves away from it’s previous textile upper, and now sports a one-peice TPU upper that sits atop of a Phylon midsole and deeply flex grooved Free outsole.

“The one-piece TPU upper was originally meant to cooperate with an interchangeable midsole but ultimately the two components were fused together. As a final nod to the original Nike Air Rift, a topographic motif was added to the NikeLab Free Rift Sandal’s upper.” –

It’s always great to get a glimpse at the development of a project like this. It’s also great to see Nike continually pushing the envelope, and it’s consumers, with the release of products like this.


nike free rift
nike free rift
nike free rift
nike free rift
nike free rift

Mr. Bailey

Product Designer + Footwear Architect | Founder of @ConceptKicks |

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