Is This Nike’s Most Elusive Release?

Nike React Element 87 p1

By Ray Zhang

It’s so hard to cop these sneakers that some people wondered if they actually exist. But since specialty retailers all over the world, except those here, have been publicly awaiting the Nike React Element 87’s drop since June and, in due course, keeping followers updated, these can’t be just an empty tease. While I don’t think so, you can never really know. Is Nike taking the limited release to such an extreme? To stir up some news? To better create pent-up demand?

I should not have been this mad about this sneaker, but I was. Perhaps I’m sick of clompy shoes. The first time I saw photographs of the Nike React Element 87, it was in online reports following the Undercover autumn/winter 2018 show in Paris in January. Those not-quite-sharp runway pictures of said shoes caught my attention, but it wasn’t until the product shots started appeared in IG (interestingly, the shoes didn’t show up in Undercover’s IG until eight days before they’re launched in Tokyo on 13 Sep) that I began noticing them with keen interest.

The bold colour combinations aside, the React Element 87 is, to me, the most compelling silhouette Nike has released in years. I don’t even remember my interest being so piqued when the VaporMax, with its all-new and astounding air soles, was launched. And not the current must-cop drops such as the Nike Zoom Fly SP in collaboration with Gyakusou or Comme des Garçons X Nike ACG’s Mowab.

Nike React Element 87 p2Part of the general release, but still exclusive to select stores: Nike React Element 87 in black/midnight navy

The first place I checked, like most people, was the Nike web page. No information was available. It was July and winter for fashion retailers, but I was not able to obtain release dates. By chance, I stumbled on a news site (I now remember not) that had availed the link to Nike’s own micro-site, SNKRS. This was in late August, if I remember correctly, and Nike even provided a countdown to the day React Element 87 would finally be available. But who follows weeks-long countdowns? As the sneaker god I worship would have it, I missed that day and was met with a photo of the kick of my desire, under which was a discreet but no less disappointing sign: sold out.

Just for the heck of it, I asked a sales staff at an Underground by Limited Edt store two weeks ago if they have this still-unseen shoe, hoping Lady Luck was smiling at me even if the guy wasn’t. Unspeaking, he turned away confidently, and turned back to me with the React Element 55 in his hand! Had I spoken indistinctly? If you’re a Mercedes fan, you know your S class from the C!

Perhaps it would be easier if I know some of the store proprietors personally. I may then have priority over a pair if, or when, the shoes drop. The problem is, I am not a top spender at any of the stores sneakerheads with no objection to price spend. Nor, am I a member of the media or an “influential influencer” who is on the marketing radar of both brands and retailers. I just happened to be a sneaker lover who waits for releases very much like the rest of you who do not go to all lengths to acquire the shoe of your interest. For most of us, our best bet is to shop online, but that, to me, is a little less than ideal because I would like to be able to try on the shoe first before I commit. Still, I gave it a shot. At most online stores, the React Element 87 is prominently featured, but when it comes to size selection, all the squares adjacent to the numbers are struck out, except 5… if I was lucky!

Nike React Element 87 p3The Undercover X Nike take on the React Element 87 seen on a local KOL not long after its release

If scoring a regular release was hard, the collab version was even harder. Just as with the VaporMax, Nike was going to let their designer version hit the market first. Undercover announced on IG, eight days before the launch on 13 September, the few places their iteration of the React Element 87 would be sold, with a reminder that only those who had won an “advance online lottery”, spread over two days, could buy it at the brand’s Aoyama store. News of the Undercover version stocked at Dover Street Market Singapore on the same date came to me shortly after the Tokyo announcement. As DSMS adopts the same raffle draw for a chance to cop the shoes, I was immediately uninterested. I have never even won a bar of chocolate at a D&D!

On Wednesday, a little bird with fantastically beautiful feathers told me that DSMS would stock the shoes I’ve been eyeing that very day. This afternoon, on a whim, I set forth for Dempsey Road to try my luck. The Nike React Element 87 turned out to be everything I had hoped it would be. Without an exaggerated shape, it does not try to be a dad shoe, nor mom, uncle, or aunt. The two colour stories available confirmed my initial suspicion that the Undercover version might have been a little too bright for me.

The shoe is incredibly light, with an upper that’s a semi-transparent, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE—a technical yarn) version of rip-stop and a mid-sole featuring a new foam tech known simply as React foam. While it’s comfortable all round, wearing the shoe sock-less, as you might with any Flyknit-kick, is not advisable since profuse perspiration is a possible bane. And the top edge of the asymmetric tongue, as well as the collar may be a bit abrasive, but that could be due to the newness of the shoe. What’s especially appealing to me about the React Element 87 is the close-to-the-foot form factor. Finally, it’s back to normal. And that, for now, is fresh.

Nike React Element 87, SGD239, is available in limited numbers at Dover Street Market Singapore. Photos: Jim Sim/(Bottom) Chin Boh Kay