For Nike, the 1970s saw the famous swoosh begin to dominate the athletic world. The company signed their first star runner, Steve Prefontaine, in 1973 and would surge in popularity among runners and tennis stars throughout the decade. While Nike’s products were made for athletes, they quickly caught the keen eyes of fashionable New York City club-goers. In 1978, the Nike Night Trak was born.
Built based off the Nike LDV, the Night Trak was made for nightclub Studio 54’s employees and loyal patrons. According to Nelson Farris, Senior Director of Culture and Heritage at Nike, a Nike sales manager frequented Studio 54 in 1978. Enthralled by the dazzling fashion and culture of New York City’s night scene, he agreed to provide shoes for the club’s employees. The Night Trak became an instant hit. It’s slick sole and glittery red details made it perfect for dancing the night away. The athletic inspiration effortlessly balanced style with comfort.
With extremely limited quantities, the design became incredibly popular in New York’s club scene. The Night Trak was only on sale for a short period of time. Interestingly, Nike also made a roller skate version of the Night Trak that was never for sale.
It was a monumental year for Nike. Not only had the brand permeated both the athletic and fashion scenes, it also underwent a reinvention. Nike’s logo, which was originally designed by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University, changed its typeface to Futura Bold, connecting the “E” to the swoosh. Unique about this new logo was that the spacing between letters was not uniform. Still, it seemed to impact the brand’s performance, as sales soared.