Wait a minute. Wait a minute Doc, uh, are you telling me you built a shoe that laces itself?!

Back to the Future II

After the box office success of the first Back to the Future film in 1985, the producers of the film trilogy reached out to noted designer Tinker Hatfield to enlist his help in creating a futuristic trainer to feature in their sequel which would be set in 2015, that would accurately mirror what they thought footwear would be like in the future. The resulting creation which was produced in 1989 has forever been immortalised on the silver screen and etched in the memory of everyone who has seen the film as Marty McFly slips into a pair of Nike Air MAG – “power laces, alright!”. Unfortunately only a few years later in 1991 star of the films Michael J. Fox started showing signs of Early Onset Parkinsons Disease and by 1998 Fox has gone public with his illness and subsequently started the Michael J. Fox Foundation to raise funds to aid research into the disease in the hope at eventually finding a cure.

2011 Nike Air MAG

In 2006, Tinker Hatfield and Tiffany Beers began the development process for redesigning the Nike Air MAG based on the original prop from Back to the Future II, with all proceeds from the sale of the products going towards helping the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The task of bringing the space age pair to life wasn’t an easy task for the duo, but after 5 years, the Nike Air MAG was officially released, with only 1500 pairs being made available, and subsequently auctioned off on eBay and raised nearly 6 Million dollars in sales and an additional 11.2 Million dollars from investors. The 2011 Nike Air MAG, unfortunately, lacked the “power lacing” from the film but does undoubtedly match the original aesthetically complete with an electroluminescent Nike logo on the strap and glowing LED arrays at the midsole and heel. The pairs unquestionably caused a stir among ‘sneakerheads’ and casual fans alike, merging trainer culture with pop culture in a very successful way, so it was no surprise that there was an outcry for more.

2016 Nike Air MAG

Luckily, the fans didn’t have to wait too long, as in 2016 only a year after Back to the Future II’s setting, Tinker Hatfield’s vision from way back in 1989 was finally realised, the Nike Air MAG, was now auto-lacing. The fabled pair are extremely limited with a mere 89 pairs made and were once again auctioned to raise money for Michael J. Fox and his Foundation. The sensor-equipped shoe automatically tightens and loosens to fit the unique shape of the wearer. Integrated glowing lights in the midsole, heel, and strap highlight the futuristic form. Once again arriving in a close to replica colourway matching that from the film. The Nike Air MAG is one of the rarest, and most expensive shoes ever made, and for a lot of people, one of the coolest as well, but for a while, it seemed like that was all she wrote for the Nike Air MAG. The dream had become a reality, and it achieved everything it had set out to do, but it wasn’t as widely accessible as they perhaps could have hoped. If you have a pair of Nike Air MAG, you are either very wealthy or very lucky, and Nike didn’t seem to like those odds for their customers, so back to the drawing board, they went.


Fast forward to 2019 and Nike have finally renewed their mission to create an accessible, self-lacing trainer. The Adapt BB ‘Nike Mag’ is the culmination of their efforts, aggressively channelling the Nike Air MAG via the silhouette’s colour scheme, although labelled merely as ‘Wolf Grey’ its Flyknit upper clearly matched the Nike Air MAGs with the same multicolour dots and a splattered motif on the midsole from the Back to the Future II replicas. The major selling point of this pair is that the wearers can personalise the fit of the shoe using light-up buttons located on the side, or by logging on to the accompanying smartphone app, a feature which could completely revolutionise the shoe world. The Nike Adapt range have been experimenting with auto-lacing technology for a while but to bring it full circle back to where it all began with this ‘Nike Mag’ colourway is something incredibly special, and I am only looking forward to more of what they have to offer.

For more news and online trainer content as and when it drops, keep it Laced.