Nike General Purpose Shoe: When Nike Cares
Price: $110 [Sold Out; Check eBay for Current Prices]
The Nike General Purpose Shoe is comfortable, durable, affordable, and more – just about the perfect Nike sneaker.
The Nike General Purpose Shoe has a boot-like shape, and this brown colorway isn’t for everyone.
|Model||General Purpose Shoe|
|Materials||Polyester / Suede / Rubber|
|Weight||476 g / 1 lb 0.7 oz|
|Country of Origin||Vietnam|
Here at 100wears, we tend to give Nike a lot of flak. They use cheap leather (if it’s leather at all), can have poor QC, etc. You’ve heard it all before. However, when it comes down to it, I personally keep buying them. At the end of the day, they make great designs with great story telling. When I heard that Nike was making a shoe with a top priority of being designed to last, I knew I had to take a look.
Tom Sachs designing a shoe that lasts is actually a bit out of step. The famous (infamous?) Mars Yard sneakers looked cool, but were surprisingly easy to break. The thing about materials designed for space is they need to be extremely lightweight. It costs anywhere from $18k-$50k to put a couple pounds (1 Kg) of stuff into orbit. The difference between a sneaker that weighs 10 ounces or 10.5 ounces isn’t noticeable. All these lightweight materials didn’t stand up the way most sneaker materials did.
The Nike General Purpose Shoe is supposed to rectify that. It’s designed to be affordable and tough. In their advertisements they never show the sneaker new, it’s always trashed.
Then again, this IS Nike. Can we trust them? Let’s dive in and find out.
The Nike General Purpose Shoe doesn’t really look like other Nike’s out there. I think some others take this analogy a bit too far, but it’s overall shape really is boot-like. Tall, rounded toe box. Oversized accents. It is something that many sneakerheads have probably never worn before.
As you get closer, even the details play into this. On the toe, heel cap, and eyelets the sneaker uses a real suede. In between these panels, a thick weave makes up the majority of the sneaker’s visual heft. Finally, fused overlays provide a bit more protection around the toe. And the Nike swoosh – they couldn’t forget that. On this colorway they are all very, very brown – adding to the boot aesthetic – but there are going to be many other colorways coming.
I don’t want to spend too much time on the color – it’s brown. That other part? Brown two. Is that part tan? No. Brown. The only exceptions are the white and orange Nike tab on the tongue and the outsole. I was surprised just how versatile it is, but I wear brown boots and dress shoes regularly, so take that with a grain of salt.
There are a few accents that I do want to highlight. First, the laces are great. They are flat, sturdy, and easy to tie. Next, the lace holes are huge – even if the laces do snap, they are easy to replace. Finally, the tongue is surprisingly nice. It’s just a pad heat pressed on the edges, but it looks interesting and fits the vibe.
Mid- and Outsole
The bottom half of the Nike General Purpose Shoe is really something different. Unlike just about any other Nike sneaker, it’s a 3-piece construction. We’ll get to the drop-in foam midsole later, but visually I want to focus on the exterior.
The shoe has a cup sole – brown on this colorway, of course – with a bit of texture to keep it interesting. The cup sole is highly contoured, so it doesn’t look like pretty much any other cup sole I’ve seen. What makes this sneaker different, though, is that an outsole is then glued onto the cup sole. Typically, you get a cup sole OR a flat outsole. Getting both is very different.
Speaking of that outsole, it’s clearly an homage to Nike’s of the past. It has a waffle design, with the patent number for the original waffle sole pressed in. The Nikecraft logo under your heel matches with a thicker heel section to increase durability.
The Nike General Purpose Shoe is a sneaker that surprised me with how much I liked the style, even in this very brown colorway. To be clear – if your outfits are typically more streetwear these won’t work as well. They don’t look like a basketball or running sneaker.
No, these are much more boot-like. If you wear more heritage style, or even just “basic menswear” (whatever that means in 2023), these will work great. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first colorway looked like a Killshot 2. This is targeting the J Crew market that Nike has been losing to New Balance for the past several years.
I find that these go great with lighter colored Chinos – blues or tans. The overall design could work with denim, but this brown colorway is too saturated with dark raws.
Fit & Comfort
The Nike General Purpose Shoe is a bit out of left field when it comes to Nike fits. Where as just about every other Nike runs anywhere from a little bit narrow to unbearably narrow, these are wide. Especially in the toe box.
Accentuating this wideness is the rake of the sneaker – or the lack there of. Rake is the curve of the heel, and a more aggressive rake will hold your foot better. Instead, Nike used a high heel pad to keep your foot in place.
I got these in my regular Nike size of Men’s 13. The 13 is totally wearable, but if I did it again, I think I would size down to a 12.5. Quick note, most colorways of the Nike General Purpose Shoe list women’s sizing first. Be sure to make sure you’re getting the right size.
If you find that the width is the limiting factor for you in Nikes, I would go down a half size. If you fit width well, and length is your main concern, go with your typical Nike size.
I wear a size 13 in most Nike sneakers, and a 12.5 in Stan Smiths. To see a list of sizing for every shoe reviewed on this site, click here.
Sneakers with a cup sole typically are not the most comfortable. First, because the foam is surrounded by rubber on the sides and your foot on top, it has nowhere to expand. Next, the cup sole makes the sneaker harder to flex. It can feel like you’re clomping around.
I’m not sure what witchcraft Nike used when making these, but the General Purpose Shoe doesn’t suffer from either of these issues.
The foam underfoot is incredibly soft. I would never have guessed it was placed in a cup sole if I didn’t see it every time I put the sneaker on. And, while I would never say these feel flexible, they don’t feel any more chunky than their large size and thick midsole would let on.
I also saved the best for last – these have real arch support. That is almost unheard of in sneakers and this is the very first Nike I’ve seen with it. I would happily wear these all day doing just about any activity.
The Nike General Purpose Shoe isn’t quite up there with the Invincible Run for squish – but it’s extremely close. At the same time, it’s supportive as well. Overall, it’s a home run.
Materials & Construction
The Nike General Purpose Shoe has a lot going for it, though the materials are not anything to write home about. Everything in here is typical Nike (though, maybe it’s all the more impressive they did what they did knowing that).
The upper is made of cheaper, thin suede and a thicker version of Nike’s fly knit. The sneaker is lined with extremely thin suede in the back, and padded polyester in the front. The tongue is lightweight foam, covered in a thin polyester weave, and a cloth cover sits on the insole.
The midsole is just a thick piece of EVA foam. Not sure if Nike tweaked the formula on it, but if they did they didn’t mention it.
The cup sole and outsole are both fairly hard rubbers. This should make for a very durable outsole.
When making the General Purpose Shoe, Nike went a bit out of the box. While these sneakers are cemented, they have an extra step. Typically, when a cemented sneaker is made, the upper is created, and then glued to an outsole. Here, the upper is glued to midsole, which is then glued to the cupsole, and then the outsole is glued to the cup sole.
Hypothetically this should make the sneaker easier to resole – though more on that later.
One step they didn’t do that was surprising to me is sewing the cup sole on. On almost every other cup sole you see, the top edge of the cup sole will be stitched to the upper. Think of a Jordan 1. This provides extra protection from the cup sole separating.
My guess – and that is always dangerous – is that they skipped this part to help keep that great flexibility.
One thing I’ve seen a lot of reviewers mention about the Nike General Purpose Shoe is that it would be easy to resole. While I clearly love this sneaker, I did want to put something in here to urge caution.
First, the reason why others are saying this. As I mentioned above, most sneakers see the upper cemented directly to the outsole. Since the upper is made of soft materials, removing the outsole will typically rip the leather/fabric of the sneaker. The only way to get the outsole off is painstakingly dabbing solvent, at the cost of several hundred dollars.
Some resolable shoes – such as wedge soled boots – are also cemented, but since the sole is glued to a material like leather or rubber, ripping it off won’t damage the upper. Instead, you sand down the glue and reglue a new one on.
If the General Purpose Shoe’s outsole is glued onto rubber, why am I saying you shouldn’t consider these resolable?
Well, the first reason is a matter of parts availability. Nike does not sell their outsoles, so you would need to get something else added on. This isn’t a huge deal, though it will impact comfort.
Next is durability of the other materials. For all the magic Nike was able to add to the EVA foam, it doesn’t last forever. Due to the way this sneaker is designed, the midsole is not replaceable. For most sneakers, the foam wears out long before the outsole.
Finally, there is the question if it makes sense financially. Resoles can cost $150 or more. Doing that do a $110 shoe means it’ll be limited only to the strictest “no landfill” people.
In fairness – Nike never claims these are resoleable. Indeed, the box says that they put durability before reuse.
The Nike General Purpose Shoe released with an MSRP of $110, though sold out instantly on SNKRs. This colorway is reselling at a premium, around $140 at time of writing. This is less than both of the previous colorways, and shows that Nike is increasing production for each release.
Tom Sachs has said that they will continue to restock these until everyone has a pair. To his credit, at least 5 more colorways have been leaked, so there are lots more coming. At the same time, Ye said that about Yeezy sneakers and they were limited until he went off the deep end.
Are the Nike General Purpose Shoe Worth It?
Here is what I believe is a first for this website – a Nike I can whole heartedly recommend at retail. There are plenty of reasons to pick up Nike sneakers before. They look cool, or they perform well. However, that always came with a caveat that you were paying for the design or the name. If that same sneaker said “Vans” on the side, it would sell for $50.
The Nike General Purpose Shoe is different.
Sure, there is a bit of hype around them and that’s great, but they are also well made, durable, and comfortable. Even more astonishingly, at MSRP they are on the more affordable side for a pair of Nikes. They are less than Dunks!
Resale makes them a bit less of a slam dunk, but even then, they are not a bad deal.
If you’re considering picking up a pair, you won’t regret it.