The Inspiration Behind Nike’s Kei Nishikori Vapor X Tennis Shoe

The Inspiration Behind Kei Nishikori's Nike Vapor X Tennis Shoe Thumbnail

Nike Men's Kei Nishikori Vapor X Leather Tennis Shoe 2

Kei Nishikori is one of those players who always seems to make deep runs at tournaments, and put up good showings against the world’s best. He conducts himself with class, and has earned a loyal following. One other thing: The man is FAST. To celebrate his on-court accomplishments, Nike has created the Kei Nishikori Vapor X Leather Tennis Shoe! This shoe is as unique as the man it’s modeled for, and tells a great story inside and out. In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at the inspiration behind the shoe of Japan’s top male player.


       Kei Nishikori Vapor X Medial View     Kei Nishikori Vapor X Lateral View

The first thing that jumps out when looking at this shoe is the pure blue, wavy white, and cherry blossom red color combination. As one might guess, the Japanese flag played a large part in the choice of color seen throughout the upper. A little less obvious is the inspiration behind the blue-gradation outsole, midsole, and frame. In this case, the designers looked to Japan’s oceanic environment and historical reliance on the sea. The styling is also a reference to Nishikori’s hometown of Matsue (sometimes called the “water city”). Diving deeper, it was the iconic “Kanagawa-oki nami ura” by Katsushika Hokusai that influenced the contrasting waves screen printed on the premium leather upper. Another noticeable feature, and one of my personal favorites, are the laces that display “Nike Court” repeated in Katakana. These shoelaces are situated between a clean leather vamp and tongue.

Inside the shoe, we find a personal touch that was specifically requested by Nishikori. Cherry blossoms are prominent throughout Japan, and have played a large role in the cultural aspects of the nation. On the insole, the creators of the Nishikori Vapor X included cherry-blossom print. One final detail implemented into this work of art is Japan’s Hi No Maru (“Circle of the Sun” symbol) on the back heel. All together, the look of the Kei Nishikori Vapor X is meant to mimic the man’s dynamic, clean, and sophisticated playing and on-court style.

Kei Nishikori Vapor X Leather and Laces        Kei Nishikori Vapor X Cherry Blossom Print Insole        Kei Nishikori Vapor X Heel


As far as performance is concerned, this iteration of the Vapor X is nothing to scoff at. Aside from exceptional breathability, it offers the same performance advantages that standard Vapor Xs provide, as well as the classic fit and feel of a traditional leather tennis shoe. Given the speed and explosiveness of Nishikori’s play, creating a lightweight, responsive, and stable base was a must. Like a samurai’s sword, these shoes are built to give their wearer an edge, but also pay homage to their skill and sophistication through attention to detail in style. Do not take these remarkable shoes for granted.

About the Author: Chris Worman

Chris Worman Play Tester Profile Picture
Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 190 lbs
USTA Ranking: N/A
Favorite ATP Player: Novak Djokovic
Favorite WTA Player: Simona Halep
Background: I primarily participated in soccer and track & field at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Some of my proudest accomplishments at that time were winning the conference title in soccer, and placing 6th in pole vault for Class AAA at the Illinois Prep Top Times Indoor Championship. In college, I took up weightlifting and nutrition more seriously. I Co-Founded, and was the President for, Redbird Bodybuilding at Illinois State University. We teamed up with exercise science and nutrition majors to help individuals learn about training techniques, program development, and overall health (among other topics). Now, I keep up with my own goals in regard to fitness and nutrition, and assist others who care to listen.

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