The Nike Blazer has been around, in one form or another, for nearly 50 years. (49 to be exact.) First designed for NBA legend George "The Iceman" Gervin in 1972, it was the third Nike sneaker ever, coming just one year after Nike transitioned away from its old name, Blue Ribbon Sports, and adopted its iconic logo, the Swoosh (designed by Carolyn Davidson). The Blazer, a nod to Nike HQ's hometown team, the Portland Trailblazers, arrived 12 years before Nike signed Michael Jordan — simply put, as odd as it sounds, Nike was still very new.
Like Nike's first two sneakers, though, an early version of the Waffle Racer and the Nike Cortez, the Blazer's hung around. A design formula that called for equal parts simplicity and performance (at least by standards then) resulted in a string of sneakers that'd prove as timeless as they were pioneering. All three remain in Nike's rotation now, and with consistent success, too. (Fun fact: The Iceman often wore pairs personalized to him — Iceman printed on both heels where the Nike logo lives now. This was the first-ever signature shoe.)
The Blazer, though, saw a more sudden spike in interest in 2018. In the final months of that year, designer Virgil Abloh, through his brand, Off-White, dropped 10 reimagined Nike sneakers. Among them were a few iterations of the iconic Blazer, albeit ones that looked both deconstructed and redone by a talented designer. There was a black version with an exaggerated white swoosh, and a beige one with a bold orange logo. At the time, Nike still sold the Blazer, both without frills and as an SB (which stands for skateboarding) edition.
The Blazer I'm most fond of — and the one I'm reviewing here — became Nike's sole version sometime between the end of 2018 and the middle of 2020. It's not all that different than the original Blazer or the SB (or the Off-White, Supreme or Stüssy) editions, but there are subtle differences (and plenty of design improvements) nonetheless that I think make the most recent version the best iteration yet (and perhaps the truest to the original).
The Nike Blazer Mid '77 Vintage
The Nike Blazer Mid '77 Vintage is simple. However, for devoted sneakerheads, perhaps too simple. It marries a foam-infused nylon tongue with leather uppers, flat cotton laces, suede accents and a vulcanized rubber sole, resulting in a style that looks plucked from adverts (and athletes) of the '70s: the atypical font on the heel and the tongue's vintage logo emphasize that vibe.
Although it was originally a basketball shoe, it's firmly cemented itself as a lifestyle option now. It isn't equipped with all of the bells and whistles one of LeBron's signature sneakers has, because, well, it doesn't need them. They're plenty comfortable, look classic in a non-kitschy way and cater to all kinds of outfits. Like the Chuck Taylor All Star, the Blazer is high enough to hide under pants in the fall and winter and a solid option for shorts-wearers in the spring and summer. Plus, they arrive on shelves at an affordable, and flat, $100 dollars. Oftentimes, because there's such a high supply of them, they go on sale, too. I've found pairs for around $50 bucks. Considering the sneakers made from suede and leather, that's pretty affordable compared to Nike sneakers made from mesh are often sold at higher prices.
But, best of all, the Blazer comes in a seemingly endless array of colors: White, gray and sail blue? Yep. All white? Of course. White and black? That, too. You'd be hard-pressed to find a pair you didn't like (or does not match the clothes you already own). And that's part of the reason why the Blazer remains so successful. It occupies a sweet spot, at least aesthetically, between rare and universal — just like the Air Force 1, Killshot 2 and, you guessed it, the Jordan 1. It also helps that there's actual lore — an anniversary collab with retailer Slam Jam called Class of 1977, which is where the '77 came from — behind its retro-tinged appearance.
Although Nike's renowned for its performance technologies — even then when this sneaker originally dropped — the most impressive advancements are absent in the Blazer. Reasonably so considering the sneaker tops out at $100 dollars, but wearers could rightfully complain that they don't do as much to support your arches or cushion your heels or the balls of your feet as they should.
While these are a pair you could probably wear every day — I've seen people pair these with a suit; it's questionable, but you could do it — I wouldn't recommend doing so if you have any pre-existing issues with your feet. Sure, these are more comfortable than hard-bottomed dress shoes, but they don't offer the cushioned ride of an Air Max or the Air Max 270.
Plenty of reviews cite a narrow footbed, while others callout stiffness and slight discoloration compared to photos presented online. Most notably, wearers of the White/Black version complained of a pinky/peach-colored tongue. If you look closely at Nike's e-commerce snaps, though, you can kind of see the difference in the tongue's tone when compared to the stark white laces. It's an added element that references earlier editions, and those that have aged over the years. Again, the retro-tinged aesthetic isn't for everyone, and the Blazer Mid '77 Vintage, as the name implies, certainly channels another era.
Admittedly, I don't own a pair of Nike Blazer Mid '77 Vintages — at least not currently. I've worn one or two into the ground and then moved on to different silhouettes. I'd lobby for a similar path for every high-top sneaker lover — or first-timer, for that matter. They're simple, comfortable and come with a uniqueness typically reserved for a designer pair you could only snag on resale sites (and for up to four times the retail price).