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From Lava Domes to City Streets: Unveiling the Hidden History of Nike ACG.

In the realm of outdoor gear, Nike ACG (All Conditions Gear) reigns supreme. Its rugged boots and stylish apparel have conquered mountain trails and city sidewalks alike, but the brand's story goes deeper than meets the eye. Long before "gorpcore" became a fashion lexicon, Nike ACG was quietly conquering mountains and turning heads. Since the 1980s, they've been pioneers in technical apparel and footwear, building a legacy for those who crave adventure in style.


This is a tale of innovation, adaptation, and a deep connection to the spirit of adventure.


From Humble Beginnings to Rugged Innovation (1981-1989)


The roots of ACG can be traced back to the early 1980s, a time when outdoor exploration was blossoming into a mainstream lifestyle. Nike, known for its athletic prowess, dipped its toes into these uncharted waters with the "Hike Nike" line.


These early pioneers, like the Lava Dome and Magma, broke the mold with lightweight designs and features like quick-drying materials.



Then came the Approach, a game-changer that incorporated the revolutionary Gore-Tex fabric, making wet trails a walk in the park (or hike, to be more precise).


The Birth of a Legend: ACG Arrives (1989-1990s)


1989 marked a turning point. Nike didn't just dabble in outdoor gear anymore; they announced ACG – a brand built for the adventurer in all of us.


Their motto, "Designed, Tested, and Made on Planet Earth," spoke volumes. This wasn't just clothing; it was armour for the explorers, the mountain climbers, the weekend warriors.


Visionaries like Tinker Hatfield led the charge, crafting iconic silhouettes like the Air Mowabb. Inspired by the unforgiving deserts of Moab, Utah, the Mowabb blended Nike's signature Air technology with rugged functionality, ready to conquer any terrain.



ACG Takes Center Stage: A Cultural Phenomenon (1990s-2000s)


The 1990s witnessed a cultural shift. Outdoor pursuits weren't just hobbies anymore; they were a way of life. Mountain biking, rock climbing, and snowboarding became the new cool, and ACG was at the forefront.


Their marketing prowess and trendsetting designs, like the ever-popular above-mentioned Air Mowabb and Terra AD, transcended the trails and hit the city streets. ACG became a symbol of both performance and style, bridging the gap between conquering a peak and conquering the urban jungle.


A New Chapter: ACG's Modern Renaissance (2014-Present)


Fast forward to 2014, and ACG received a shot of fresh air with the arrival of Errolson Hugh, the mastermind behind Acronym, a renowned brand. Hugh's collaboration with Nike brought a unique perspective, blending urban sensibilities with ACG's technical expertise.


The result?

A new wave of innovative designs – weatherproof jackets that could withstand a downpour and all-terrain sneakers that craved adventure. This wasn't just for the seasoned outdoorsman; it was for a new generation of explorers, fashion-conscious and ready to push boundaries.


Hugh's collaboration with Nike produced jackets, tops, pants, a backpack, and shoes, all in stealthy all-black. The collection featured utilitarian elements like media ports, double layering, and tool pockets.


Highlights included the Gore-Tex ACG 2-in-1 jacket, a versatile Tech Fleece roll-neck, and a form-fitting Dri-Fit T-shirt with convenient side zippers.


The ACG Responder backpack, with its sophisticated zipper system, combined style with functionality. The rugged Flyknit Chukka SFB sneakers and LunarTerra Arktos boots were perfect for urban landscapes.


A standout piece was the semi-tailored pants, designed with an articulated gusset for enhanced mobility—a feature Hugh passionately showcased with a karate kick in front of Nike's CEO, Mark Parker.


Hugh's expertise from Acronym informed this collection, merging performance with style and anticipating the "athleisure" trend.


The Legacy Continues: ACG's Enduring Spirit


Today, Nike ACG keeps the momentum going. ACG's current collection seamlessly blends classic heritage with modern technology. This year, a legend returned. The Exploraid, a beloved trail shoe, reemerged in fresh "Ash Green" and "Light Orewood Brown" colorways, breathing new life into a storied classic.


But the Swoosh isn't done yet. They're teasing a "Jade Horizon" iteration that's set to drop this fall, and it's a true gem for outdoor enthusiasts and sneakerheads alike.

Staying true to its roots, the Exploraid features a comfortable neoprene bootie that forms the base. This time, it's swathed in a stunning sage green with dark stucco accents, a colorway that whispers of rugged mountain trails and crisp autumn mornings. But the beauty goes beyond the surface.


The shoe boasts classic ACG branding on the heel counter and tongue, a subtle nod to its heritage. Most importantly, the aggressive outsole promises superior traction, ensuring you can conquer any terrain with confidence.


Whether you're navigating city streets or scrambling up rocky slopes, the Nike ACG Exploraid "Jade Horizon" is a versatile champion. It's primed to become a workhorse in your fall rotation, offering both peak performance and undeniable style.


Summa summarum,ACG's story is more than a timeline of products and innovations. It's a testament to resilience, the constant push to redefine the boundaries of exploration, and a deep-rooted connection with the adventurous spirit that lies within us all.


The ACG Archive serves as a digital homage to this legacy, a bridge between the past and present, and a source of inspiration for future generations to lace up their boots and embark on their own adventures.


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Words by AW.

Photos courtest of NIke ACG.

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