In today’s installment of Vintage Heat we’re pleased to have a double feature of Air Max goodness. Air Maxes are some of the most beloved shoes across the complete footwear landscape and there are no two more recognizable designs than the OG Air Max 1 (saying they’re red is borderline disrespectful to the silhouettes’s clout) and the Silver Bullet Air Max 97.
What makes these two in particular so special are the feelings they invoke:
Someone completely oblivious to shoe culture can pass by an OG Air Max 1 wearer and be transported to the first (or last time) they gazed upon their red & grey good looks. The Silver Bullet ’97 is an extremely polarizing design with lines that invoke ‘awh’ or ‘eww’ as popular responses too. We, as a community, have 20+ years of exposure to these titans of Air, so most of our opinions are firmly set; but it’s great for new generations of sneakerheads to have the opportunity to experience these little pieces of history. We’re lucky enough to have OG versions of both Air Maxes for your viewing & learning pleasure provided by Luis Coello (Just_luis97 on IG). Lets take a look at some of his vintage heat together!
Air Max 97, 1997
We can see how the overall shape of Luis’s OG ’97s was properly replicated with the 2017 retro, but the netting of the OGs appear to be more metallic. Like most older Nikes the OG’s tongue appears to be more puffy; this was done for added padding and support. Luis (like most of us) loves the futurist look of the ’97 and in retrospect it’s amazing that these were designed 21 years ago – they fall in line with many design trends of today. In 1997 these were futuristic but in 2018 they’re straight up fashionable – that’s foresight.
Luis even has the OG mail-in card! The old heads out there will remember these; back before the internet people would fill these out to provide feedback for Nike. It’s super interesting to see how the Swoosh used to divide their various sporting divisions to include categories like swimming (Nike hasn’t made aquatic gear in years). Would you have been interested in “receiving Nike mailings if they become available?”
In the vintage world when someone says “the shoes are talking” they mean that the outsole has separated and/or crumbled from the upper so now the back portion of the shoe moves like a human mouth. Luis’s ’97s are doing exactly that alongside Air bag fog which happens when oxidization within the Air unit changes color from clear to fogged grey. Since these were the first shoes to feature Full-Length Air the unit has had plenty of time to age like fine wine.
OG Air Maxes commonly had the PSI levels pressed onto the outsole as a way to show the complexity of the Air unit; when consumers actually see what they’re supposed to be feeling underfoot because when wearers can see the tech they believe in the tech. Luis says the different PSIs throughout the shoe are designed to cushion specific high impact reasons, and with current Nikes the brand keeps their PSI levels secret to prevent counterfeiters from copying their technologies.
Air Max 1, 1988
The one that started it all both literally and figuratively! Luis added these to his collection for their timeless versatility as an iconic training shoe and dope lifestyle option (red Air Max 1s go with everything). Two big differences between the OG and 2017 retro are the lighter shades of grey on the upper and the higher cut of the heel (the OGs are much more pointy); other than that the retros honor the OGs very well.
Are you wondering why we dated these Air Max 1s in 1988 instead of the shoe’s original release year of 1987? It’s because Luis’s are the v2 version released in… 1988. The Visible Air unit on the ’87s were prone to pop so Nike shrunk the bubble size to prevent further issues. Not only has this pair’s Air bubble not popped but the midsole surrounding it has minimal erosion too. This midsole in particular displays how vintage foam decomposes with cracks, chips and full-breakdown all present.
Remember when Nike dropped the AM1 for Air Max Day in 2014 with a yellow outsole? You can see above that a vintage pair of Air Maxes turn more brown than yellow.
As we mentioned above, the OG’s achilles region sits much higher than the retro and we can see here the overall shape is much more rounded. Both kicks should be available 365 days-a-year, make that happen, Nike, because these are two of the greatest shoes ever made!