Nike Air Max 97

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    Nike Air Max 97

    Nike Air Max 97

    43 articles

    A shoe inspired by a fallen water droplet, sent a ripple through sneaker history.

    Air Max 97

    In the late nineties the economy, sports and fashion were all booming. Continuing from a precedent set by the AM95s, the Nike Air Max 97s brought extra flair, introducing the world’s first trainer with a visible Air unit across the entire bottom of the foot; Christian Tresser was chosen to design it.

    Christian joined Nike around 1996 where he was assigned to football boots and collaborated on the Air Zoom GX project which catalysed the arrival of the brand’s first synthetic boots: the Nike Mercurial. Before Tresser, the Air Max 97 project had already got the better of two previous designers. He was given a simple message: this shoe is going to be career defining.

    As well as having the first full-length cushioning bed, the bright reflective piping of the upper took on a unique unbroken linear style that Tresser discovered by observing the natural ripple of a droplet falling into water. A new sense of aesthetic smoothness was being added to the Air Max range, typified by Nike’s sleek new hidden lace-up system on top, which makes them look faster too.

    First released in 1997, the AM97 launched in a Metallic Silver colourway, which were inspired by mountain bike components and colourings at the time, featuring heavily metallic finishes like aluminium and polished titanium. Perhaps quotidian in comparison to the commonly held design and colourway association with the super-fast silver bullet trains of Tokyo that emerged in the late 90s, and the reason the shoe was given the nickname “Silver Bullet”.

    Designed as a runner, the 97’s new ventilated mechanical style panels were made of rugged engineered mesh, making the shoe even more breathable than predecessors. The evolutionary technology continued through the use of Nike’s first ever hidden lacing system, and the novel introduction of the full-length visible Air unit. This high standard of design and material use meant that the Air Max 97 was getting noticed by other, more discerning crowds.

    In 1998, several luxury fashion brands featured 97s in their catwalk shows, igniting them as an outright phenomenon and garnering acceptance into the echelons of high fashion. Paired with how the shoe felt simultaneously retro and futuristic, goes some way to explaining why the AM97s have endured. The Nike Air Max 97 reached the perfect balance between performance and design.

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