Design: The Nike Sneaker With an Exoskeleton

The world wasn't ready in 2004: now, the Nike Sock Dart is back and better than ever.

Today in Design, a look at one of the world’s most technically-advanced sneakers. When the Nike Sock Dart first debuted, in 2004, the world wasn’t quite ready for its futuristic laceless and seamless design. Critical response was tepid, as were sales, and the Nike Sock Dart and its architectural exoskeleton were pulled from shelves.

Then a decade later, the Sock Dart returned to great applause. Now, Nike is offering the forward-looking sneaker as part of its Nikeid line, meaning regular folks can play the role of shoe designer and create a personal colorway. Our favorite is a factory scheme called “Light Bone,” which pairs off-white and beige panels with a truly ossified outer structure: it looks like cartilage.

Comfort-wise, the sneaker works as both sock and shoe: the mesh upper fits snugly and acts as a foot covering, while the structural mid-strap provides support and keeps the foot aligned properly along the footbed.