Sotheby’s is auctioning another historic pair of sneakers.
The auction house today will begin a single-lot online auction for a pair of Nike Handmade Waffle Spike shoes created by company cofounder and University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman for University of Oregon runner John Mays. The auction runs through June 26. The shoes, which are the first and only pair of shoes handcrafted by Bowerman to be available at auction, are estimated to sell between $130,000 and $150,000.
Bowerman produced the Spike Shoes from scratch in the early Seventies before Nike re-branded from its original name Blue Ribbon Sports. The shoes have 14 lace holes hand-punched by Bowerman, and Mays’ name on the heels in Bowerman’s handwriting. In addition, the soles are mismatched: the right shoe has a waffle sole and white strip of material that Bowerman added in 1974. After the adjustment, the shoes were never worn again.
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s director of e-commerce development, said the Waffle Spike shoes were the most “appropriate” follow-up to the record-setting Air Jordan I sneaker auction in May. “We’re thrilled to offer this grail — created by one of the greatest innovators in shoe ingenuity and design, made even more special by the fact that they are consigned by John Mays himself. The pair speaks volumes to Bill’s need to constantly innovate, showing multiple layers of modifications, including the addition of a waffle sole on the right shoe — an elemental design that Nike still uses today.”
Hays commented that he was eager to help Bowerman test the shoe though he admitted he didn’t pay much attention to Bowerman’s business endeavor at the time.
“Bill had me test the shoes by running in them during practice and in meets,” Hays said. “I gave him feedback about the feel of the shoes; if they were comfortable, if the footplate was too hard, if they tore and where. As seen in the accompanying letter, he left me notes to tell me what type of workouts he wanted me to put the shoes through. Eventually, I wore them in NCAA Track and Field Championships and the 1972 Olympic Trials in Eugene. It’s a pleasure to be offering these historic shoes at Sotheby’s.”