Cult-following cross suicide-cult

13 YEARS ago, Nike withdrew and discontinued a certain silhouette – following its unfortunate association with an American suicide-cult…

The Nike Decade was a shoe not so dissimilar to the women’s Outburst model as we see today, however its simplistic design and black/white palette made it the trainer of choice for Heaven’s Gate followers.

But, how did this dad-core, nondescript vintage runner find itself inscribed repeatedly as a core symbolic image for the unfortunate event, and printed on the front-page of news outlets globally?

Well, in March 1997, 39 members of the aforementioned cult rented a house on the outskirts of San Diego, and proceeded to take their own lives. This was an attempt, apparently, to force themselves upon the UFO believed to be following the Hale-Bopp comet – a natural phenomenon that was passing by at this point in time.


Every cult member was found covered by a purple cloth, matching black tracksuits and of course the newly purchased Decades – chosen due to their availability at close-to wholesale price.

The shoe itself was released as part of Nike’s basic, low-budget pack of the era– made widely available to the public and in no way had it ever been produced to be craved by the vintage-adoring masses.


Yet, the action of pulling a product itself is what makes it more desirable; notthe event itself. I propose the Nike SB ‘Black Sheep’, Palace ‘Hermes’ collection as two other examples of rarity materialising from the discontinuation of lines.


Photos courtesy of Andy Hur/Solecollector.

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