We’re continuing our celebration leading up to Air Max Day 2019 with a look at another of the world’s favorite big-bubbled running shoes, the Nike Air Max 97. After our curated selection of some of the most epic Air Max 1, Air Max 90, and Air Max 95 colorways in our inventory, it only makes since to close things out with the fourth must-have model in Air Max history.
Like all three of the other models we’ve already discussed, the Air Max 97 has been an icon since the day it released. It was designed by Christian Tresser, the mind behind many of Nike’s best late-90s running shoes including Zoom Spiridon and recently-retroed Air Zoom Alpha. The Air Max 97 is most famous in its metallic and reflective “Silver Bullet” colorway, and has dropped in countless amazing colorways from general releases to extravagant editions that are literally covered in shining crystals.
Need a fresh pair of the Air Max 97 for your own observance of Air Max Day this year? Look no further than this handy buyer’s guide that runs the full gamut of slept on general releases to epic grails. Check out our 10 favorite Air Max 97s below, and get wavy in your own pair today.
Like the Air Max 90 “Infrared” and Air Max 95 “Neon,” the original “Silver Bullet” Air Max 97 is one of the most iconic sneakers of all time. Because of its nickname, most people think that the shoe and colorway were both inspired by high speed bullet trains, but its designer Christian Tresser cites different inspiration. The wavy panels were actually inspired by the concentric circles emanating outwards after a drop of water hits a larger pool of water, and the metallic silver colorway was inspired by the chrome finish of mountain bikes.
Did somebody mention the “Neon” Air Max 95? This recent colorway of the 97 for women perfectly translates the classic color scheme with the wavy reflective silver accents of the “Silver Bullet” colorway all still intact. This best of both worlds colorway definitely has many men jealous that it was released only for the lady Air Max fans.
A second must-have women’s release for the Air Max 97 is next, with this luxurious edition of the original metallic gold colorway with a major upgrade: Swarovski crystals covering the upper. The amazing release is constructed with Swarovski’s proprietary Crystal Fabric material, which features thousands of tiny crystals bunched together to achieve a shimmering effect as the shoe moves.
The latest hyped Air Max 97 is this colorful edition from the “Have a Nike Day” pack of early 2019. The collection that includes other classic Air Max models and features the vintage Nike slogan from the days long before “Just Do It” was highlighted by this 97. The pastel-colored upper in tones of purple, pink, and aqua has “Have a Nike Day” repeating around one of the wavy panels, and the smiley face with a Swoosh for its mouth graphic as metal ornaments on the laces. This awesome colorway and the entire “Have a Nike Day” pack has direct influence from the next sneaker on our list…
OK, so we already included this in the Air Max 1 list, but who can blame us for doubling up in the 97 list? Sean Wotherspoon won Nike’s RevolutionAIR contest, where the public voted for their favorite Air Max creation by designers around the world to be produced and released for Air Max Day 2018, with this hybrid design combining a corduroy Air Max 97 upper with the sole of the Air Max 1. Wotherspoon, a vintage connoisseur, looked to Nike’s past for a bonus detail on the shoe: a graphic of a smiley face with a Swoosh for its smile on each insole. The smiley face appeared one year later in Nike’s “Have a Nike Day” pack, and you can bet that’s no coincidence.
Next we’ll go to the only other Air Max 97 collaboration that can even come close to Sean Wotherspoon’s version in the hype department: Virgil Abloh’s remodel of the shoe from “The Ten” collection. Somehow deconstructed but very technical looking at the same time, the semi-translucent Air Max 97 was definitely one of the top highlights of the initial “The Ten” set, and looks equally as great in the three other colorway released including the “Black,” “Menta,” and Serena Williams editions.
Let’s backtrack a minute to another original colorway of the Air Max 97. The “Atlantic Blue” colorway is loved by hardcore Air Max collectors, but was long overlooked by the more casual fans. It finally got some shine in 2017 when it returned for the shoe’s 20th anniversary. If you like what you see, we suggest you pick up a pair now just in case it’s another 20 years before they come back again.
Also as part of the Air Max 97s 20th anniversary, in 2017 Nike dropped the “Country Camo” pack with the model in camouflage patterns from militaries around the world including Italy, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the USA. This American tiger camo edition is our favorite from the battle-ready collection.
2017 was easily the biggest year for the Air Max 97 since its original release in 1997. Another epic collaboration from its 20th anniversary was Undefeated’s clean take on the silhouette featuring patent leather and a repeating logo on the red and green striped panel. The coveted collab released in three colorways, including white, an ultra-exclusive olive green friends and family edition, and this all-black version that is the general consensus for the best of them all.
UK rapper and grime artist Skepta’s talents don’t end with music, as he’s also an Air Max aficionado who created one of the best Air Max 97 colorways of the last few years. Showing his Air Max knowledge, Skepta dug into the Nike archives for inspiration for his collaboration. He covered the silhouette in an iridescent finish taken from the Air Tuned Max from 1999, which itself was inspired by the outer shell of beetles. The result was another highlight from the 20th anniversary of the iconic model in 2017, and a classic look that will be remembered for years to come.