HIP Spotlight: What Is Nike ACG – The History Of Nike’s Iconic Sub-label

What does Nike ACG stand for?

Nike ACG stands for All Conditions Gear – a name which references the label’s mission to provide reliable protection and performance in all conditions, locations and terrains. “Designed, Tested and Made on Planet Earth”, Nike ACG is made for the modern explorer seeking adventure within the world’s dramatic landscapes.

History of Nike ACG

The earliest elements of the Nike ACG range can be seen dating back to the early 1980s with the Nike Hiking range.

1981 saw the introduction of Nike Hiking. The often forgotten predecessor to ACG, this small range featured the tough Lava Dome trail shoe, alongside both the Magma and Approach boots. The range was suitable for the mountains, but much lighter than anything else on the market, as highlighted through Nike’s genius marketing for this foray, which created a new category as a brand. Nike participated in an era of boundary-pushing technology within the outdoors field, with innovations like quick drying wick-able linings and the now legendary waterproof fabric known as GORE-TEX.

Nike ACG hiking boot poster

It wasn’t until 1989 that the ACG concept was formally announced. Nike then hit the ground running with new branding, footwear and apparel styles, and the continuation of market-leading advertising that broke the mould within the outdoors realm. Thanks to key players in the design department such as Tinker Hatfield, Toren Orzeck and Peter Fogg, ACG was able to carve its own path, presenting wearable performance gear and slowly creating a unique cult-worshipped archive with casual fans and collectors quickly taking to the brand.

Nike Hiking advert
Nike ACG hiking boot advert
Nike ACG sandal advert

During this period ACG was able to push into new territories with product by innovating in ways other outdoors performance brands has been afraid of or thought was inappropriate at the time. Footwear became distinctly more performance-driven, but the key aesthetics started to be informed by trends happening in the marketplace – with Nike finding the perfect sweet spot. Many consumers were hungry for products that embraced colour and new materials in the bold manner that ACG did. During these key early years, ACG was leading the outdoor industry from a youth and culture standpoint, opposing traditional hiking designs and creating their own lane. Nike weren’t afraid to use their expressive colour palette of bright orange, green, pink, yellow and more to differentiate themselves from an otherwise dull market of dark leathers and overly sensible black outerwear. Iconic silhouettes like the Air Mowabb paved the way for ACG designs such as the Ashiko Boot and the Lunar Macleay; both made for the mountains but quickly embraced on the streets.

Nike ACG Lava Dome Boot advert

Nike ACG in the 90s

During the 90s, outdoor-focused activities like mountain biking, climbing walls, staycations and kayaking became more accessible to the average person. Enjoying the ‘great outdoors’ had gone from a boring past time to a desirable and exciting lifestyle; a cultural shift partly initiated by Nike ACG. The evolution from Nike Hiking to ACG subverted conventions in a way only a label with the power and perception of Nike could. Rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding appeared more attractive due to ACG’s marketing capabilities, with iconic adverts that truly captured attention. Using the Nike sportswear archive as a design blueprint, each collection is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing. Nike ACG merges an expected offering of tees and sweatshirts with a line of all-terrain sneakers and performance-built pants, shorts, jackets and accessories – all steeped in the ACG heritage and philosophy with a range of technical features. A notable feature of ACG’s SS22 collection is its ability to appear both referential yet progressive. With classic branding and fits, staple t-shirts are reminiscent of the label’s 90s archives, whilst new and contemporary patterns and designs take inspiration from landscapes around the world. Modern technology and fabric development has also given ACG’s collections another layer of practicality.

With outdoors clothing and techwear continuing to grow in popularity, Nike ACG continues to be at the forefront of contemporary innovation, and as always, is immersed in culture, history and evolution.

Explore our Nike ACG collection online at HIP now.

Nike ACG classic advert
Modern Nike ACG advert
Nike ACG Air Terra advert
Classic Nike ACG advert
Nike ACG Air Mada advert