Journal / Nike Air More Uptempo Analysis

The Curious Case Of The Air More Uptempo's Rise

Perception can equate to reality, especially in commerce. It's the reason why a product's story is malleable – never truly cemented, though its identity may seem defined in the moment.

An example being the Nike Air More Uptempo. Famous for its bold "AIR" branding, we've seen the popular silhouette evolve in recent years from a Nike Basketball shoe heralded for its supporting role in a NBA championship run into a footwear option embraced in posh high fashion scenes.

Designed by Wilson Smith, the sneaker hit retailers in 1996 and was pegged a signature model for NBA Hall of Famer and Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen. At the time, there was a culture clash, where Nike, whose hand was on the pulse of culture, capitalized on the intersectionality of Hip-Hop, playground basketball, and NBA culture to create product that garnered dollar signs. This fact greatly influenced the Air More Uptempo's rugged look, which defined that entire era of Nike Basketball releases.

The upper is sturdy; the midsole is aggressive, with the visible air unit providing some polish; Swooshes are arranged with a surgeon's precision; the design on the outsole almost mirrors a piece of abstract art.

It's a perfect shoe for all intents and purposes.

Per the trend at Nike, the Air More Uptempo returned time and time again via retro re-releases. Each time trends had changed, as the sneaker world leaned towards sleeker models beyond the comprehension of bulky '90s designs. However, as the pendulum swung in 2010s, the fashion community's interests in classic sneakers started to expand past the usual Air Jordan, Nike runner, and new aged adidas releases to include models it would once gloss over.

It was officially the Air More Uptempo's time to shine. By 2017, the Smith's creation managed to take on a new life, as juxtaposition of clothing sizes and footwear choices (i.e. loose-fitting pants cut high at the ankle, with a basketball shoe on-foot) are common traits of quality outfit architecture. The crescendo moment was a hyped collaboration with streetwear mainstay Supreme.

Here, Stadium Goods walks you through the colorways that ushered in the change in consciousness around the Air More Uptempo.
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Nike Air More Uptempo

Style: 414962 100

Release Date: March 23, 2016

Stadium Goods Link: Nike Air More Uptempo OG

We begin our story with the first Air More Uptempo release of 2016, featuring a Chicago Bulls-inspired white and red colorway. This spring release was the perfect change of pace for the forthcoming warm weather. It's constructed with white and red leather throughout the upper, with the latter covering the "AIR" branding and accents.

Nike Air More Uptempo OG

Style: 414962 002

Release Date: April 16, 2016

Stadium Goods Link: Nike Air More Uptempo OG

The term OG comes with an inherent amount of respect. Especially in the sneaker community, when the model in question was a game changer.

Scottie Pippen's Air More Uptempo returned in its original form spring 2016. The 6'8" scoring threat and elite defender wore the shoe as a major contributor to the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' record-breaking 72-10 season and another eventual NBA Championship. The boldly-branded shoe primarily features suede in black and white and white accents.

Nike Air More Uptempo "Olympic"

Style: 414962 104

Release Date: July 20, 2016

Stadium Goods Link: Nike Air More Uptempo "Olympic"

As if the second Dream Team weren't a big enough draw, Scottie Pippen redirected attention to his feet when he debuted the Nike Air More Uptempo "Olympic" colorway during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA.

Any connoisseur of Nike's classic '90s basketball sneakers will recall this version, which sports a patriotic combination of White and Midnight Navy on the upper, with Sport Red and Metallic Gold accents. Navy suede serves as a base, while the toe and enlarged "AIR" branding features a pristine white leather. Pippen's Olympic number "8" is stitched into the heel. The midsole features the visible air unit and the outsole is very detailed with a massive Swoosh that appears in the dead center.

Nike Air More Uptempo "Gum"

Style: 414962 103

Release Date: July 20, 2016

Stadium Goods Link: Nike Air More Uptempo "Gum"

The undefeated combination of an all-white shoe with a gum-colored outsole makes for a phenomenal version of the Air More Uptempo model. It features smooth and tumbled leather construction on the upper in a pristine look. The gum coating on the outsole completes the look perfectly.

Nike Air More Uptempo '96

Style: 921948 600

Release Date: April 7, 2017

Stadium Goods Link: Nike Air More Uptempo '96

The iconic hoops model universally recognized for the enlarged "AIR" branding on the lateral and medial sides has never seen a colorway more fitting for no. 33's Chicago Bulls playing days. Interestingly enough, this pair didn't arrive until the "Hoop" pack released in 2005.

This version sports a Windy City-suited motif, with a red suede upper and black patent leather "AIR" branding. White accents appear on the aforementioned lettering, Swoosh on the toe, additional branding on the tongue, inner lining, and outsole.

Nike retroed this Air More Uptempo during summer 2016 in grade school sizes only (much to our collective chagrin). Thankfully, the good folks in Beaverton, Oregon, righted their initial wrong with this vibrant 2017 version, which does a great job at staying true to the original look.

Nike Air More Uptempo "Triple Black"

Style: 414962 004

Release Date: April 14, 2017

Stadium Goods Link: Nike Air More Uptempo "Triple Black"

As the world anticipated the recently unveiled Supreme x Nike Air More Uptempo collaboration, the Swoosh brand whet appetites by delivering this "Triple Black" colorway a little over a week early. Constructed with premium suede, the upper features reflective 3M piping on the "AIR" overlay and touches of the eye-catching material on the laces and heel tab.

Nike Air More Uptempo "Suptempo"

Release Date: April 27, 2017

Stadium Goods Link: Nike Air More Uptempo "Suptempo"

When it's all said and done, this will be the tipping point that allowed the Air More Uptempo to reach critical mass. Streetwear conglomerate Supreme repurposed the classic shoe, keeping its silhouette in tact from the upper through the outsole. But the difference here is in the lettering, which is aptly changed to read "Supreme."

The "Suptempo" dropped in a trio of colorways: a Black option constructed with suede and supple leather on the lettering; a Metallic Gold shoe featuring tonal premium leather throughout the upper, with red accents and a white midsole; a Varsity Red suede sneaker donning white leather lettering and alternating white and red accents on the midsole.

All three "Suptempo" shoes sport glow in the dark trimming around the Supreme branding. The words "World" and "Famous" appear on the lace tips to complete the shoe.

Nike Air More Uptempo '96 QS

Style: 921949 600

Release Date: May 25, 2017

Stadium Goods Link: Nike Air More Uptempo '96 QS

Up until this point (outside of the "Suptempo" shoe), the Air More Uptempo have released in colorways that were. But we see Nike experiment with its design, as they test its potential with a clean lifestyle makeover. Enter the innovative "Night Maroon" colorway, a continuation of the tonal trend that's defined the shoe in the past. But the difference here is the look – the clearest departure from past color schemes that fall in line with kicks created for on-the-court wear. Tonal maroon on the suede upper and midsole is offset by an outsole in Sail.

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