You know things are getting really serious when Nike devotes an entire page to the one and only Nike Air Monarch IV. Actually I shouldn’t be surprised about it because it’s one Nike’s to selling shoes. Often dubbed the Dad Shoe , the Monarch IV is probably the most durable shoes I’ve ever owned. I bought an all black pair about a year ago with the idea of testing it; the shoes are chunky and shapeless and to be honest they are primary objective in my opinion is functionality. I’ve been literally walking with them for 6.5 miles on a regular basis and the midsole of the shoes has yet to lose its effect. I’ve even played basketball in them and shared a video about it, see link below
They are like a WW2 German tank to last for a lifetime. Today Nike took the time to give us the genesis of the Monarch IV through the eyes of its founders. The brand is also releasing a special Air Monarch IV in olive green in honor of Fathers’s day and I have to admire Nike’s genius again on this one. The brand just knows how to give its consumers exactly what they need/want. This highlight of the Monarch IV couldn’t have at a better time, Kudos to Nike on this one.
The idea for the original Nike Air Monarch began during a pivotal point in Nike Men’s Training history. The turf training surge in the ’90s had slowed down, and Nike faced competition from brands that had a grasp on the no-frills older male consumer. It wasn’t Nike’s top-performing market, but it was a valuably stable market, and early leaders on the Monarch knew that the brand needed an impressionable shoe to spur growth in the training sector again.
To show this strategy at work, the team found inspiration from – of all places – fast food.
“We talked at length about how everyone buys fries and fountain drinks at fast food restaurants, because those items are seen as essential parts of the meal,” says Dave Schechter, VP of Nike Max Air footwear and a former Monarch merchandising team member. “We realized we needed our version of a fries-and-soda type of shoe to act as that all-day, everyday shoe in our line.”
THE RESEARCH: THEME PARKS
The goal was set: create the most comfortable white-leather training shoe available on the market. Designers completed their early sketches of a width-variable shoe that went big on comfort (the initial moodboards included an image of a foot dipping into a bucket of whipped cream). To learn more about the practical details the target buyer would want, the designers scouted a theme park to watch the American male on summer vacation. Interviews with men at the park revealed the desired features of the shoe, like a suitably-cushioned collar and tongue.
THE SECOND ACT: A MIDWESTERN BASEMENT
The decision to update the Nike Air Monarch I came in 2003 after sales continued to climb month over month. To draw up some inspiration for the next iteration, a designer secured a small conference room on campus and redecorated it with wood paneling, a leather recliner and a neon beer sign – all to remember the setting that the ideal consumer might return to. The sight brought to mind the archetypal father in American popular culture, one who wants to relax after a long day at work. Rather than overhaul the design, the team changed only a few basic elements for the Nike Air Monarch II, including updating some internal construction, adding traction patterns and a pivot point in the outsole for rotation and adding textures in areas that wrinkled.
THE CULTURAL SPOKESMAN: PETE CARROLL
The shoe’s third and fourth iterations advanced a fresher look. Full-length Nike Air and more herringbone traction to the outsole, for example, were added into the Nike Air Monarch III. Later, the Nike Air Monarch IV added perforations, among other plays on angles, to conjure speed.
Additionally, social media channels parodically raised the shoe’s profile in fashion as early as 2013, but it would be people who would nudge the shoe toward a different cultural status. One person played an especially important role: Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who was first seen wearing the shoe while roaming the sidelines at USC.