Nike's New EXP-X14 is a Stylish Nod to (Failed) Attempts at Running Records

Close, but no cigar.

There are a lot of neat references packed into Nike Sportswear's new lifestyle runner, the EXP-X14. While it isn't a performance sneaker, many of its distinct design elements are references to Nike's history in running, as well as the long-distance running records that the brand's athletes have tried to break in the past. Check it out:


The sneaker itself, is of course, another smash hit for Nike (following the React Element 87, which many believe to be an easy candidate for sneaker of the year). It has a translucent upper layer, likely inspired by Nike's work with Virgil Abloh, now Creative Director of Louis Vuitton's menswear division. The EXP-X14 also has a sleek, stylish silhouette that's perfect for the modern-day streetwear-athleisure look—and if we're being real, style alone is enough reason to get behind this sneaker.

But there's more to it than that, and it's all in the details.

First, the name: "EXP" is short for experiment, while "X14" was the internal codename for Nike's React technology, while it was still being developed. Obviously, the EXP-X14 has a React sole, which means that apart from being stylish, it's also built for maximum bouncy comfort.

Next, the details: "N3546" is printed along the side of every EXP-X14. This represents the record attempt of Steve Prefontaine, one of Nike's first athletes, who came within 3.5 seconds of breaking the world record for the fastest mile. His personal best was three minutes and 54.6 seconds. Prefontaine broke several other running records before his career was cut short when he died in a car accident at age 24.

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Lastly, the EXP-X14's tapered sole and exposed TPU plate are direct design references to the Zoom VaporFly 4%, which was the sneaker developed specifically to push the boundaries of human athleticism. In 2016, Nike launched a project called Breaking2, with the goal of getting an athlete to run an entire maraton within two hours. For that project, they designed the VaporFly. And while the two-hour mark was not breached (they missed it by only 25 seconds), their runner, Eliud Kipchoge, was over two minutes quicker than the current world record. (Because of the controlled measures that Nike used to help Kipchoge in his attempt to break two, his time was not ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations). WIRED Magazine wrote a full-length story about Breaking2, and National Geographic produced a whole documentary:

So while it may seem like just another cool-looking pair of kicks, the EXP-X14 actually has a lot of stories to tell when you look closer.

The Nike Sportswear EXP-X14 is now available in the Philippines, at Nike Park and other Nike retailers, for the full retail price of PHP6,295.

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Miguel Escobar
Assistant Features Editor for Esquire Philippines
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