Nike has a uniqueness problem

Not something I thought I’d ever write

For many years Nike has been the standard bearer for the boot industry when it comes to having unique product. Although I don’t always have positive things to say about the brand, they always have done a good job when it comes to offering unique experiences for each of their boot silos. But ever since the launch of the Phantom VSN and the Legend 8, Nike seems to have contented themselves with having several series that all feel quite similar. The PhantomVNM and the Vapor both offer similar fits (at least for me) while PhantomVSN and the Legend seem to be two different styles for the same boot. The VNM also doesn’t stand out much to me and it seems as if Nike wanted to play it safe rather than make a more aggressive power boot. Admittedly the Vapor still stands out as unique from everything else.

On the one hand, Nike not bothering to make their boots have an variety from each other is great for everyone else, it is somewhat disappointing for the brand that often tries to push the boundaries so much play it safe. In time past, when a Nike boot released it was always about what new tech they were bringing to the market. The last time Nike has done this recently was with the release of the first PhantomVSN and the QuadFit system. But including that same tech on the Legend 8 without much else changing seems very un-Nike.

Even with the release of the PhantomVSN II, nothing much has changed all that much and currently the entire Nike line (aside from the Vapor) can be summed up with a big “meh”. There is nothing much to get the heart racing. Nike has even failed to really differentiate the Superfly from the standard Vapor. The Superfly, which always used to be the standard bearer for how far Nike could push their tech but has become a boot with a single gimmick (vs the Vapor) and offers no reason for anyone to choose the boot over the Vapor.

It makes one think that Nike is suffering from an identity crisis somewhat. Four different silos that could really just be narrowed down to two (edit: many VNM players have noted how different they feel versus the Vapor, this one is on me with my low experience with the VNM) when you think about it. For me, I am so used to Nike always having four different boots that always felt unique and separate not just from themselves but from almost every other boot on the market. Maybe it’s just Nike resting on their laurels too much and believing that they could release almost anything, and people will buy it. And they’re not wrong but if they keep this up it will begin to hurt the brand’s reputation.

Now, there seems to be some hope on the horizon with the Phantom GT, which seems to be killing both the VSN and VNM series thankfully and hopefully that will offer a much different feel from the current series and the Legend. There is also the Nike Air Zoom Mercurial Concept which looks like a big departure from every other boot on the market. I am hoping that it isn’t just a concept boot in the same way as the GS360 series and is viable enough to be it’s own silo though admittedly it would be replacing the Vapor which seems to be the only unique Nike boot at the moment.

But Nike needs to and certainly can do more.

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