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How The Nike Shox Became The Shoe Of A Grime Generation


With rumours of a forthcoming Sketpa x Nike Shox collab we explore the history of Nike Shox and its early noughties Grime connection.

Unlike some Air Max silhouettes that just never seem to go away, the Nike Shox trainer had been forgotten about until its recent revival in October 2018. With a new found love for all things Nike and Air Max, it seemed like the perfect time for the Oregon based sportswear brand to revive the “pucks” spring sole system trainer. However it feels like its origins and subculture connections are still a bit misunderstood. In the States for example the Nike Shox never really attached itself to a specific subculture. US hip hop and rap at the time was all about Jordan’s and basketball style silhouettes. The Shox was only really adapted by fitness fanatics and Daniel Wormald looking type characters from the Breaking Bad spin off series Better Call Saul.

Nike Shox R4

Above: The re-released Nike Shox R4 from October 2018 in all its OG early noughties glory.

However travel 3500 miles across the Atlantic to the urban estates of Hackney and Bo in London and it’s a completely different story. The Nike Shox dropped in an era where mobile phones with colour screens were just getting introduced and everyone was going mad for polyphonic ringtones. We didn’t have instagram, online shopping and sneaker apps as we know it today and the concept of a “global sneaker” aesthetic didn’t really exist. A certain style still existed predominantly in a certain area. The Nike Shox was to Grime like what for example the adidas Gazelle was to the Britpop scene. It just looked like something you had never seen before, futuristic and like someone had put the Air Max Plus in a “pimp my ride” time machine and sent it back through time. If there was a shoe that could really represent the original Grime scene the Nike Shox would be one of them. It was a “Bad Mans” trainer, made for bouncing about the streets, a quick get away if you needed it and usually teamed up with Nike sportswear, swoosh hats, gloves, hoodies and track pants. Up North’ the Shox was also a big hitter in the likes of Liverpool and Manchester with nightclub revellers literally bouncing about the dance floors to the latest organ bassline tunes. A new “flat peak” type look had been born, flat peak 5 panel hats from Nike, adidas 3 stripes tracky pants, Nike hoodies and the latest R4 Shox on feet.

Skepta x Nike-Shox

It just looked like something you had never seen before, futuristic and like someone had put the Air Max Plus in a “pimp my ride” time machine and sent it back through time.

Luke Taylor – CEO, Streetwear Jobs

With rumours of a forthcoming Nike Shox silhouette from Skepta, it’s no surprise really that Skepta would put his name to the Nike Shox. For one he probably use to wear them back in the early noughties and two, Nike are obviously going to push for silhouette re-releases in their hype collab drops. So when you are reading about the history of the Nike Shox just remember its connection to Grime and the UK urban music scene is a lot stronger than anything else out there. You only had to tune into Channel U on Sky in 2004 to see this for yourself.

Above: If any song could capture that early Grime “Channel U” sound it would be Lethal Bizzle’s Pow from 2004.

The history of the Nike Shox started back in 2000 with the famous “Boing” campaign featuring the legendary Lakers player Gary Payton. The silhouette itself was first released in 2000 with the concept of four PE “Pucks” to the sole looking like some fancy coil over suspension system. Great for basketball players looking to get that extra bounce and field athletes looking to get that extra bit of stride in their step. Numerous basketball high style Shox silhouettes were released in the early noughties but it was the low models, the Shox R4 and Shox TL, that really captured the urban youth culture of the UK. Re-released in 2018, the Nike Shox R4 now returns to the ever evolving sneaker world and with a potential Skepta collaboration on the way, it looks likes it going to be a big year for the early noughties Nike silhouette.


Above: The Skepta x Nike Shox TL trainer is rumoured to drop later this year.


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