Posted on

Fresh Kicks

When Chris Burke was young, he had big dreams to one day work for Nike. Mission accomplished. Though he now works for Google, his closet is still full of Air Jordans from his time with the swoosh. “Just do it?” Chris did.

Growing up in a family with 10 kids, most of Chris Burke’s sneakers were hand-me-downs from his brothers. While he might not have had the cash for the latest and greatest Air Jordans, he always had an affinity for them. 

   “I remember going to a sleepover in second grade and obsessing over my friend’s pair of Nike Air Flight 89s,” Chris explains. 

   Not only was Chris obsessed with sneakers, he was enamored by the Nike brand as a whole. He grew up near the company’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and spent many Saturdays hanging out on the campus. 

   “I always had a vision and a dream to work for Nike,” Chris says. 

   After graduating from BYU, Chris worked for a few NBA teams including the Utah Jazz before going back to school to get his MBA from Cornell University.  

   Eventually, a job opportunity at Nike emerged and he jumped on it. Chris worked his way up to lead the division managing shoe collaborations with designers and sports legends like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant  — to name a few. 

   “Kobe was my favorite to work with. He always pushed the innovation,” Chris says. “Sometimes his ideas seemed out there initially, but his footwear changed the game.”

   Chris still remembers the pinch-me moment of seeing a stranger walking down the street in a pair of shoes that he had helped bring to the market.

   Today, Chris lives in Highland with his wife, Katie, and their four children. His kids loved the cool factor of dad bringing home shoe samples and prototypes. 

   Three years ago, Chris took on a new role at Google, but he will forever be a die-hard Nike fan. In the Burkes’ new home, there is a 12-foot-by-60-foot room that houses the Nike collection Chris has amassed. They also have some of Chris’ favorite pairs on display at the entrance to their sport court. Second-grade Chris would be on cloud nine. 

   One thing that has been fun for Chris to observe both personally and professionally is the emergence of shoe culture. 

   “Decades ago, most people had a pair of sneakers, their daily shoes and then dress shoes,” Chris says. “There wasn’t much crossover. Today, anything goes. And as a society, we also pay more attention to what NBA stars and influencers are wearing these days; they have played a massive role in redefining high fashion and street wear trends.” 

   Gameday fits are a thing, and the sneakerhead era has never been stronger — and Chris is eternally grateful to have played a role in it!