Nike’s New Free Rift Sport Sandals: Would You Wear Them?

On May 7, a new sport sandal from the NikeLab team hits select stores. The Free Rift Sandal features an unusual look, with its split toe and heavy athletic bottom, which means it could either be a massive hit and offer serious competition for sandal mainstays like Chaco and Teva, or it could be a sales dud, in which case Nike chalks it up to design experimentation. And hey, they can afford to take chances, right?

The brand appears to be tapping into two major fashion trends with the Free Rift: minimalism and sporty sandals. So perhaps it’s not such a stretch after all.

To create the Free Rift, NikeLab designers turned to the brand’s archives for inspiration, specifically to the the 1996 Nike Air Rift, which was a light, flexible performance running style with a split toe and minimal textile upper.

1996 Nike Air Rift running shoe
CREDIT: courtesy of brand

That concept eventually morphed into today’s Nike Free series, which has a place in almost every activity segment, from running and training to skateboarding and golf.

The Free Rift sandal, though, was initially created as protective footwear for volleyball players. The style has a sturdy one-piece TPU upper fused to a plush Phylon midsole. It boasts a flexible outsole with hexagonal grooves for a barefoot feel and durable rubber pods to take on high-friction surfaces.

NikeLab Free Rift Sandals in black
CREDIT: courtesy of brand

After debuting tomorrow on Nike.com/nikelab and NikeLab stores globally, the sandals will roll out to retail stores throughout North America starting May 28.

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