J.Crew Nike Internationalist Sneaker Review and How to Style It10 min read


Updated: May 18, 2020 

The Nike Internationalist has been in my sneaker collection for over 4 years now. This long admired sneaker has become one of my favorites to wear and for good reason.

Nike Internationalist Review and Lookbook (3+ Years Wearing Them) | GENTLEMAN WITHIN

In this in-depth Nike Internationalist review, I’m going to talk about the sneaker’s history — the style & design, quality & craftsmanship, comfort & durability, how you can customize your own pair, pros & cons, and I’ll showcase 7 different ways to wear it.

Let’s get started.

NIKE INTERNATIONALIST REVIEW & LOOKBOOK

Nike Internationalist Review & Lookbook | 7 Casual Fall Autumn Outfits for Men

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NIKE INTERNATIONALIST HISTORY

The Nike Internationalist sneaker has quite a storied history. It made a grand debut to the public in 1982 during the New York Marathon.

The winner of the marathon that year was Alberto Salazar, a legendary marathoner and one of the co-developers of the Internationalist. With his victory that year, the Internationalist sneaker became a household name among sneaker collectors. And for decades it was seen as “the” shoe for distance runners.

Nike Internationalist History Alberto Salazar New York Marathon 1982 Winner
Alberto Salazar crossing the finish line at the New York Marathon in 1982.

Sales quickly blew through the roof and subsequently Nike aired its first ever TV commercial which helped the Internationalist gain international (no pun intended) attention.

And then in 1985 the now iconic movie The Breakfast Club had one of its main characters wear the sneaker during the unforgettable dance scene. This catapulted the Internationalist into a whole new level of fame among sneaker enthusiasts. 

Fast forward to 2014, 30 years after the Nike Internationalists was available to the public, Nike re-released it staying true to the original low-profile design and silhouette. Retro-vibes intact, Nike kept the perfect combination of mesh, suede and nylon upper.

The Breakfast Club Nike Internationalist Fame
The Breakfast Club helped catapult the Nike Internationalist to sneaker stardom.

In addition to the Internationalist Low, Nike released the Internationalist Mid which is equipped with a higher collar height for ankle support and unique styling. To keep up with ongoing sneaker trends, they also unveiled a premium/luxe, winterized and utility version of the sneaker.

Today Nike Internationalist Low By You (originally Nike Internationalist ID) allows for customers to design their very own custom pair online. I’ll detail more about this later on.

J.CREW x NIKE COLLAB

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The pair in this review is unique. It was offered for a limited time in collaboration with J.Crew. Sound familiar? (cc. Nike Killshot 2).

Purchased: Back in January 2016. 

J Crew Nike Internationalist Sneaker
Check the nylon, suede and mesh materials for the shoe’s upper.

I’ve had my Internationalists for over 4 years now and so they’ve gotten plenty of wear. They only look so clean because I’ve taken good care of them.

Here are the product details per the description on J.Crew’s website. It was so popular it sold out pretty quickly. I’m not sure if they’ll ever restock these. They even sold out on Nike’s website. Here are popular alternatives, Tailwind and Daybreak.

Product Details: Originally designed for distance running, these shoes made their debut in the ’82 New York Marathon. The upper blends different textures for durable comfort and the classic waffle rubber outsoles are designed for ultimate traction—perfect for your deli runs.

  • Mesh, suede upper
  • Cotton lining
  • Rubber sole
  • Import
  • Item E0092

NIKE INTERNATIONALIST STYLE & DESIGN

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Much like the original version from 1982, the updated Nike Internationalist Low is made with a mesh, nylon and suede upper for a clean look. This contrast of textures makes for a visually appealing aesthetic. Somehow it manages to remain low-key while boasting 3 different materials for the base.

Nike Internationalist On Feet Front
The grey monochrome is what attracted me to the sneaker. It’s subdued, but still has plenty of character.

This pair from J.Crew features a monochrome greyed out colorway with light and dark shade paneling throughout. The standout color is the pop of neon green on the tongue label and the Nike logotype along the heel collar.

The Nike Internationalist style and silhouette is that of a classic running shoe, appropriately so, since it was originally made with distance runners in mind. Nowadays the classic Internationalist is more of a lifestyle shoe, worn casually instead of for running.

Nike Internationalist On Feet Heel Collar
The lime green Nike logotype subtly stands out, in a good way.

As its name suggests, it features a low profile as opposed to the Nike Internationalist Mid which has a much higher collar. The minimalist, sleek design adds to its versatility and easier to style.

Other styles similar to the throwback Nike Internationalist are the Nike Air Odyssey, Nike Air Tailwind 79, New Balance NB 990, KangaROOS Coil R1, and Diadora N9000.

Customize Your Own Pair

Is Nike Internationalist For Running?

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These days the Nike Internationalist is more of a lifestyle shoe for everyday casual wear. Sure, it’s comfortable and durable enough for running, but there are probably better options out there like the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 or ON Running Clouds

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QUALITY & CRAFTSMANSHIP

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The Nike Internationalist features an injected phylon foam midsole which makes the shoe comfortable and light. Again, it has a suede, mesh and nylon upper. The suede in particular is stand out. Much like leather, suede is a luxurious material that adds a sartorial punch to any garment or shoe.

Furthermore, the rubber toe box tab/protector is securely glued to the front of the sneaker and isn’t splitting which tends to be an issue with many sneakers over time.

Nike Internationalist Suede Nylon Mesh Upper Detail

Nike Internationalist Plastic Heel Counter Detail

Nike Internationalist Waffle Pattern Rubber Outsole Detail

Additionally the shoes have a plastic heel clip that wraps around the ankle for added heel support. It also features a mesh upper that allows for maximum breathability, and a waffle patterned rubber outsole for increased ground traction.

Finally, Nike branding can be found on the shoe’s insole, tongue, heel collar, and along both sides is a big Nike swoosh. You can tell that the Nike Internationalist is a thoughtfully made shoe with both form and function in mind.

Customize Your Own Pair

COMFORT & DURABILITY

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The Nike Internationalist is comfortable for all day walking. That’s because (as previously mentioned) the shoe was designed with an injected phylon foam midsole for added cushioning. The phylon midsole and aerodynamic shape of the shoe makes it ultra lightweight.

In terms of durability, the sneakers are still feeling and looking fresh on my feet. The soles aren’t worn in much at all while the materials on the upper, particularly on the inside of the shoe don’t have any rips or tears. Even the durable phylon midsole is holding up well without any sort of heavy imprint from my foot.

Nike Internationalist On Feet Side
The Internationalist is one of the most comfortable pairs of sneakers I’ve worn.

A big reason the shoes are still in great shape is that I take care of my sneakers by cleaning them whenever they get dirty, I don’t wear them in bad weather, and I don’t drag my feet. A little TLC goes a long way in keeping your shoes looking great for the long haul.

Don’t forget to pick up sneaker balls (here are the ones I use) to help deodorize your shoes. I like to throw them in my shoes after a long day of wear. This has kept them smelling fresh through the past several years of wear.

Customize Your Own Pair

Do Nike Internationalist Run Small?

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No, the Internationalist sneaker runs true to size according to the US Brannock device and so you’ll want to get your regular sneaker size. I’m normally a size 8 for running sneakers and that’s what I got.

CUSTOMIZE YOUR OWN PAIR

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While you can’t get the exact pair in this review, you can customize one to look like it.

In celebration of this 1980s icon, Nike allows for you to customize your very own pair. You can go with throwback Nike branding or make it your own with personal details.

Nike Internationalist Low By You Customize
With Nike Internationalist Low By You, customize the base, tip, eyestay, foxing, swoosh/backtab, tongue and laces.

Not only can you customize various colors with neutral earth tones of each part of the shoe, you can choose the materials for the sneaker as well.

Want luxe leather or suede? You got it. Or you can opt for the original nylon and mesh construction. You literally have an endless array of options to go through.

Nike Internationalist Low By You Just Do It
Additionally you can customize the heel clip, midsole, outsole, tongue label, and personal iD.

Since they’re custom it will take 3 weeks or less with free shipping and free returns for NikePlus members. Regardless, it’s easy to use and tons of fun. Check it out for yourself!

Customize Your Own Pair

HOW TO WEAR THE NIKE INTERNATIONALIST

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While the Nike Internationalist is a running shoe at the core, it’s now worn for everyday casual wear. And one of my favorite things about the sneaker is how versatile it actually is.

And so, before I wrap things up with the pros & cons and bottom line, I wanted to showcase how to style the Internationalist sneaker.

Nike Internationalist Dressed Up Dressed Down Outfits
SHOP THE LOOKS — Nike Internationalist Low By You Sneaker | Ash & Erie Indigo Wash Jeans | ASOS Light Wash Jeans | Moda Matters Navy Blazer | Everlane Slim Fit Performance Oxford | Hamilton Khaki Field Watch | Everlane French Terry Hoodie | Seiko 5 SNK803

Outfit 1: Dressy

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The first way I styled the Nike Internationalist is the boldest of all the outfits and definitely not for the risk averse. I decided to pair the sneakers with a navy blazer, untucked white shirt, and slim dark blue jeans. I feel that it works for 2 main reasons. First, sneakers with blue jeans and a casual button up are already a harmonious trio. Where it gets tricky is the addition of a blazer which is a dressier garment.

Secondly, it works because this particular blazer with patch pockets is made with a jersey knit material which makes it much more casual than a sport coat or blazer with a wool fabric and regular flap pockets. Go ahead and experiment a little. You might surprise yourself with your sartorial mastery.

Outfit 2: Casual 

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From the dressiest to the most relaxed fit, outfit 2 is the most casual of them all. It’s a safe, laid back look because the Internationalists are right at home with the light wash jeans. To further dress things down, the hoodie is as casual as it gets.

It’s more appropriate for a younger crowd. I don’t wear hoodies often and I’m not against them either. They’re comfortable and keep you warm in the autumn chill. They key to nailing the hoodie is making sure the fit is trim and not too baggy. If you’re drowning in your hoodie, it’s never a good look.

Nike Internationalist Light Layered Outfit
SHOP THE LOOK — Nike Internationalist Low By You Sneaker | Ash & Erie Indigo Wash Jeans | J.Crew Long Sleeve Henley | Ash & Erie Button Down Shirt | J.Crew Factory Walker Vest | Barbour Waxed Cotton Baseball Cap | Hamilton Khaki Field Watch

Outfit 3: Lightly Layered

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This next fit is one of my favorites and relatively easy to pull off. I’m back at it again with the slim dark wash jeans, this time paired with a long sleeve cotton henley. The henley is a casual style staple, and one of those shirt styles that look great on men with a muscular physique, especially those with bigger chests. 

A casual button down shirt acts as a stylish layering piece here. I decided to keep it unbuttoned for relaxed vibes, and cuffed the sleeves a tiny bit for a little extra flair.

Outfit 4: Add A Layer

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For outfit 4, we’re simply adding the waxed canvas, quilted vest (J.Crew Factory Walker Vest) as an additional layering piece if the weather calls for it. And finally, I threw on a dad hat, because why not? All in all, outfit 4 finishes off the casual look in tremendous style. Overall, the greens and blues play nicely with the grey tones of the sneaker.

Nike Internationalist Quilted Vest Outfits
SHOP THE LOOKS — Nike Internationalist Low By You Sneaker | Banana Republic Slim Traveler Chinos | J.Crew Long Sleeve Henley | Banana Republic Core Temp Sweatshirt | J.Crew Factory Walker Vest | Uniqlo Breton Striped Shirt | Casio Vintage Digital Watch

Outfit 5 & 6: Easy as 1, 2, 3

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Outfits 5 and 6 are the same with exception to the light quilted vest. Again these are casual looks featuring slim fit chinos with a green hue and fitted grey sweatshirt, another casual style staple in my book. 

These are simple no frills outfits that are made up of 3 basics, the sweatshirt, chinos and vest which really does make it as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Outfit 7: Stylish Stripes

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Finally, outfit 7 is another casual one, this time with the same chinos as before and the blue button down shirt. I layered a long sleeve breton shirt over top for to add some visual interest to the look. I then finished things off with the green, light padded vest.

Light layers is the name of the game here, And notice the pin-rolled cuffs at the ankles. This gives the outfit a clean, no break look while drawing the eyes to the sneakers.

Beckett Simonon Reid Sneakers Review | GENTLEMAN WITHINQuick note: If you liked this Nike Internationalist Review, then you’ll probably like this Beckett Simonon Reid Review too. 

NIKE INTERNATIONALIST PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Clean and classic, retro-inspired design aesthetic
  • Ability to customize your own pair
  • A myriad of versatile colorways to choose from 
  • Equal parts comfortable and stylish
  • Materials hold up for years
  • Has a storied history and stands the test of time
  • Iconic brand heritage

Cons:

  • The sneaker doesn’t come with an extra wide option
  • Nike’s website is the only place to buy it at the moment
  • Expensive compared to the competition, but it is Nike

Where To Buy Nike Internationalist

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The best place to pickup a pair of Nike Internationalist Low is directly from Nike’s website where you can customize your very own pair down the exact materials, colors, and also personalize it.

Shop Nike Internationalist Low

Quick Note: You might like this long term review of Ace Marks Duke Sneaker.

THE BOTTOM LINE

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$110 for a custom Nike sneaker, and not just any custom sneaker, but one of its most popular. Not bad, not bad at all.

I’d say the Internationalist is well worth the investment. You get a tried and true casual sneaker with a timeless design and unquestionable track record of excellence. It’s no wonder the Nike Internationalist is still admired today as it was three decades ago.

Nike Internationalist Review and Lookbook (3+ Years Wearing Them) | GENTLEMAN WITHIN

QUESTIONS OR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE NIKE INTERNATIONALIST?

Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.

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Nike Internationalist Low

$110
9.4

Style and Design

9.6/10

Quality and Craftsmanship

9.7/10

Comfort and Durability

9.5/10

Versatility

9.5/10

Price

8.8/10

Pros

  • Clean and classic, retro-inspired design aesthetic
  • Ability to customize your own pair
  • A myriad of versatile colorways to choose from 
  • Equal parts comfortable and stylish
  • Iconic brand heritage

Cons

  • The sneaker doesn't come with an extra wide option
  • Nike's website is the only place to buy it at the moment
  • Expensive compared to the competition, but it is Nike

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Comments

  1. Thomas says

    Hi Khoi! Great review – love the pics! Can you comment about the width of the shoe? Do you find that it runs narrow? Any comparisons to how it fits?

    I am normally a size 8 wide, but I am wondering if I should get an 8.5 just in case. I am thinking of designing my own, but don’t know how it fits. Hope you can help! Thanks!

    • Khoi Nguyen says

      Hey Thomas, thanks for stopping by! The width of the Killshot 2 is standard for Nike. A slightly bit narrower than a pair of trainers that I have from them (Nike Internationalist). If you’re familiar with Koio sneakers, it’s similar to them. I’d say it runs narrower than Greats Royale. Might be worth it to size up, but keep it should stretch a bit over time too. Hope this helps. -Khoi

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