Nike’s Upside Down Look is Cool and Creepy

This has been an eventful summer for fans of the Netflix cult horror hit Stranger Things. Timed with the release of the series’ third season last month, Nike dropped a line of Stranger Things- themed sneakers in June that paid a delightfully geeky tribute to the show. The drop feature three silhouettes and two capsules, one inspired by Hawkins High and another by the 4th of July town carnival that features in the season’s dramatic final episodes. The silhouettes of the shoes are inspired by classic Nike looks from the 80s, the decade in which the show takes place. The first is the Nike Cortez, a slim, low-top shoe with a wide mouth for more comfortable ankle support. The second is the Nike Tailwind, another low-cut running shoe with a sleek silhouette and a thin sole. The third is the Nike Blazer, a high-top shoe with a flat sole popular with basketball players, a nod to Steve, one of the show’s main characters and a Hawkins High basketball star. 

If all that wasn’t enough, yesterday Nike released their surprise second drop of the Stranger Things line, calling this capsule the “Upside Down.” Like the previous two capsules, the Upside Down comes in three classic 80s silhouettes, the Tailwind, Blazer, and Cortez. The capsule debuted at San Diego Comic Con last month, where convention goers were asked to participate in a scavenger hunt to find limited quantities of the Tailwind model hidden throughout the con. The Upside Down refers to the show’s demonic underworld, a nightmarish parallel to the sleepy midwestern town of Hawkins the characters call home. Just as the Upside Down is Hawkins’ creepy parallel, the Upside Down capsule is a distressed, dark-colored mirror to the Hawkins High capsule’s clean, classic white and the cheerful red, white, and blue of the 4th of July capsule. When you first pull these sneakers out of the box, they have the same beige canvas look as their Hawkins High counterpart. However, in a unique tear-away feature, the canvas is designed to wear and fall off to reveal a dark denim upper – a clever take on the Upside Down lurking beneath Hawkins’ seemingly crisp surface.  

In a nice aesthetic contrast to the dark denim of the tear-away uppers, the Upside Down capsules still have the classic white soles and white laces of the other 80s inspired looks. The tongue features some tasteful Nike and Stranger Things co-branding, but possibly the shoe’s best detail can be found hidden underneath the insoles. The top layer of the Upside Down’s insole can be pulled back to reveal the secret Russian transmissions that the characters intercept in the show’s third season. The text of the transmissions is detailed on the insole in both Russian and English – a wonderfully thorough detail for fans of the show. The Stranger Things line has been designed to avoid gaudy graphics and ugly logos, but the Stranger Things logo can be found detailed into the rubber on each sneaker’s heel. Each pair of Upside Down sneakers comes wrapped in unique Stranger Things tissue paper and is paired with a unique enamel pin. Priced at $110 on the Nike website, a pair of these creepy trainers is a must for any Stranger Things fan. 

In addition to the sneakers, Nike is also releasing a line of Hawkins High gear to go with the Hawkins High inspired capsules from the 1st drop. The Hawkins High clothing line includes hats, shirts, sweatpants, and sweatshirts. Each pair of Hawkins High shoes will also come with a unique enamel pin designed to emulate a classic graduation pin.