The reasons why they're so special are:
1) The Air Rift was an innovative shoe. A shoe that looked into the future during the Fall of '95. It was designed for the Kenyan runners that Nike had fought hard to sign to an endorsement deal during the early part of the decade. The shoe is made with a split toe to give the feel of running barefoot that many Kenyan runners do while growing up.
2) I ran several times in them while living in Savannah and Charleston, and I loved them because they were not only light, but they did give the feeling of running barefoot. I also liked them because you could run without socks in them.
3) The shoe was named after the Rift region of Kenya. What's even tighter with the background of the shoe is that Nike sold both black and white split toe socks to go with the shoe.
When I ran the Chicago Marathon during the Fall of '95, a lot of the lead runners were rocking these after the race, and I caught a few hard core running heads rocking the orginals (pictured above) at the Atlanta Olympics in '96....So dope....
4) I still rock them today, but only when I'm on the town. I usuallly break them out when it's over 95 degrees with my Armani pants. Yeah....like that.....
Where is this shoe today? It's funny to watch how this shoe has morphed into a "stripper's shoe". Every showgirl across the world seems to have rocked the Rifts over the last few years. The colors are all over the board and now the shoe comes in fake fur and a ton of different types of leather. Straight up booty if you ask me.....You know me, I'm a straight up classic traditionalist. Those shoes were meant for Running......They should be used as such.
Let's hope that Nike starts innovating again, and that they start introducing "take the red pill" models like the 'Air Rift'.