Nike wouldn’t be where it’s at today without the genius of Bill Bowerman. As the company’s most notable innovator, he helped to usher in many new eras, generations, and styles of shoe, with some of his earliest works maintaining a reputation for their raw, purposeful designs. While many of Bowerman’s works have fetched a high price at their own respective auctions, the latest — a handmade ‘Nike’ Waffle Spike built exclusively for runner John Mays — might obtain its title as one of the genre’s most expensive offerings.
The Bill Bowerman-built Waffle Spike began production in 1970 and was adopted by runner John Mays, whom Bowerman had coached during his tenure at Oregon, for the 1972 Olympic Trials. Like many of the innovator’s sensational works, these specific shoes took on a heavily-used patina, courtesy of a worn upper, frayed aglet, and brown glues implemented to hold pieces of the runner in place. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the example’s spiked-silhouette, however, is its waffle sole — a technical innovation that was quickly adopted by footwear’s most prolific manufacturers and remains in production, to this day. On the heel, Mays’ name is readily visible, complementing a handwritten letter from Bowerman regarding the runner’s trial and input for the shoe’s impending production. Head to Sotheby’s website, where they’re expected to fetch more than $110,000, for more information prior to the June 26th auction close.