The legendary Air Tech Challenge III and Air Oscillate return.
In the mid to late ’90s, tennis leanings could be determined with a glance thanks to two industry-leading designs: the Air Tech Challenge III and Air Oscillate. Flamboyant counter-puncher Andre Agassi wore the former and buttoned-up power-server Pete Sampras the latter.
The Sampras-Agassi rivalry raged for the better part of a decade. The players' distinct styles and attitudes defined who they were and how they played. Their Tinker Hatfield-designed shoes were no different. Each demonstrated a new way of designing for sport, redefining performance and aesthetic standards.
Pete Sampras: Nike Air Oscillate
The Air Oscillate was created for Sampras in secret. Sampras, who had been playing and winning in the same shoe for nearly his entire career, was adamant about sticking with what worked. But thanks to some elaborate thinking on the part of Hatfield, Sampras was tricked into giving the new shoes a shot.
Knowing Sampras was partial to basketball, Hatfield invited him to play a pick-up game, at which the “basketball shoes” he was given were actually Air Oscillates. The comfort and response provided by the Nike Zoom and encapsulated air inside the Oscillate impressed Sampras – so much so that he wore them exclusively for the next seven years.
Andre Agassi: Nike Air Tech Challenge III
The Air Tech Challenge III, launched in 1991 as the Air Tech Challenge ¾, included visible air in the heel and a flexible encapsulated Nike Air-sole unit in the forefoot. One of the most noticeable updates from the Air Tech Challenge II was the inclusion of a snug Dynamic Fit sleeve. The third installment of the Air Tech Challenge line also moved away from the “Hot Lava” colorway made popular by its predecessor, opting for an equally eye-catching, tennis ball-inspired neon yellow pop. For Agassi, it represented an evolution in on-court aesthethics that, like many models in his signature line, resonated off the court.