With a current focus on retro styling, the Air Max 98s may be just what the industry didn’t know they’ve wanted re-released until now.
When the Nike first dropped the Air Max 98s, the overall reception was lackluster in the eyes of many and quickly forgotten. The silhouette was less “wavy,” more chopped up and ultimately lacked the panache that had made the previous 95 and 97 models so beloved even to this day.
Nike tried to revive the 98s in 2014, and again in 2016 to invoke some hype with their supreme collaboration, but for one reason or another the model continued its longstanding struggle with relevance. Twenty years removed since Nike first released the model in colourways such as “Atlantic Blue,” “JD Sports Obsidian,” “Volt” and “Team Orange,” we may finally be willing to embrace the Air Max 98 with open arms.
Throughout the mid-90s, the 97s were an especially popular sneaker that was seen as the pinnacle of what lifestyle-running sneakers could be. They hit hard again in the 2017 season for their 20th birthday, with substantial collaborations spanning the likes of Off-White, Undefeated, Skepta and Sean Wotherspoon, as well as new colorways that were relevant and worthy of modern fashion styles.
Both the classic colorways and new makeovers that included neutral, toned down looks such as pale pinks and earthy tones caused sneakerheads everywhere to fall in love all over again with the same air technology and comfort that revolutionized the 90s. However with so many new concepts on the market, many have grown tired of oversaturated models like the “Silver Bullets” or simply can’t justify the ridiculous price point of the highly sought-after collaborations. With this in mind, the 98s may be just what Nike needs to continue the success of the Air Max lineage, providing a much-needed injection of vigor to the retro silhouette.
While it will soon be decided by sneakerheads and fashion icons alike, there are many telltale signs that if Nike chooses to go all-in on this previously underwhelming model, it will bring a renewed sense of love and acceptance for the 98s. Currently Nike hasn’t included any 98s in the Air Max Day schedule this year, yet the “Gundam” colorway alone (which dropped January 26th) has already invited people to celebrate the retro style and features of the past. The timing may be a factor, as chunky “dad shoes” such as the Yeezy Wave Runner 700 and the Balenciaga Triple S have taken over the industry.
Not only did the “Gundam” colourway fill a lower price point, but there was also a lot of appeal in the similar panelling, bold primary colors and reflective detailing just as previous colorways. As Nike teases new renditions of the 98s such as “Fossil” and “Triple White,” sneaker enthusiasts everywhere are already going to great efforts to get their hands on the classic colours which are now almost nowhere to be found. Supreme being as relevant as ever has also intrigued some, as prices for the only 98 collaboration have increased dramatically in the past few months
But where will the model be taken to this year? Many are hoping for reiterations of classic colourways such as “University Red” or “Hyper Cobalt,” while others look towards a focus on reflective materials and newer monochromatic vibes. There has been previous changes to the sole of the model as it had been seen sporting 95 cushioning, so Nike could even be dying to try adding new Vapormax sole technology as a loud combination. However if the attention garnered behind the “Gundam” colourway is any indicator of what’s to come, 2018 will likely see a rebirth of the Air Max 98.
Streetwear culture’s perception of 3m materials, classic retro style and colour combination seem to be aligning at the perfect time for Nike and the only development that remains to been seen is if the Air Max 98s will flourish the second time around.