For those who don't remember, in March 2017, Nike celebrated It's second "official" Air Max Day - some like to think of it as a made up event to sell more shoes, but I think of it as a celebration of one of the best shoe-related pieces of technological development, Nike Air.
We had a month long build-up to Air Max Day, with lots of "special" pairs dropping. The year before (2016), Nike gave the fans the chance to vote for a fan-favourite classic Air Max to re-release, with the atmos "Elephant" coming out on top. We (Crepe City, at the time) teamed up with Size? to host a charity event (alongside the March iteration of Crepe City) to raise some money for XXXX and give collectors the chance to win some very special pairs.
Continuing the 'power in the hands of the fans' theme, Nike decided to conduct yet another vote - this time it wasn't Vote Back, but Vote Forward. The same voting mechanic was used but this time we were voting for designers, influencers, store owners, originators (etc) who had created their own 'homage' to Nike Air with a model of their own. They had free reign on what they could do - with each of the ten entries all being simply mock ups, each designer was simply restricted to the power of Photoshop. As I'm typing this out, I can feel myself coming off a little salty - that's not the case, but at the time there was a lot of drama on the groups about what was going on with the voting system and how some designs weren't getting the (mass) love they deserved. People were already naming this as a popularity contest, as some entrants didn't seem to have the "clout" to pull in votes on their own. I won't dwell on this too much, but all the information on this is not that hard to find so I'll leave that to you to track down if you must.
The UK's representative was Alex Hackett (aka @miniswoosh), a London based designer and Footpatrol Alumni who creates clothing and accessorises by repurposing Nike product - think training bags recycled as jackets, socks stitched together and turned into turtlenecks and you have a rough idea. Her design was supposedly based around Nike Town receipts - the upper would feature panels made of the Tyvek paper, with the amount of Swooshes to replicate the over-branding and pink laces representing the 'end of ink' warning line on the till receipt. I thought they were decent. They didn't blow me away but they were interesting enough to deserve seeing production. It wouldn't surprise me, knowing Nike, if they were created in very limited number some point down the line.
But going back to the rest of the designs, few were worthy, I really liked the Black/Red Russian Vapormax x 97 that reminded of a Xenomorph straight out of a Ridley Scott film but f**k me we had some disasters! I'm looking at you spotty Air Max 1 and let's not forget the opaque clingfilm wrapped monstrosity. It's almost like they only scanned over the brief, briefly (zing!). I mean come on, Nike calls and you've got a once in a life time opportunity to work with the largest footwear brand in the world to create you own shoe that millions will see and 1000's will have the chance to wear, and you produce that...
Once the voting period was completed, Sean Wotherspoon was announced as the winner. I hadn't really heard much about Sean before that year but a friend told me he a ran a few consignment stores out in the states and also had a very successful Youtube show - I only watch Youtube for tutorials so that's probably why I was out of the loop. It was probably 3-4 months after the announcement that we saw the very first sample pair. Fast forwarding a couple of months, we saw the first initial release of the Nike Air Max 97/1 in very limited numbers at Complex Con in LA. The reaction in the states was crazy, with the second instalment of Complex Con needing added security and queuing systems to handle the demand. I was lucky enough to see a pair in hand a couple of weeks ago.
As you can see below, the shoe features a 97 upper combined with an Air Max 1 sole - two shoes a decade a part, combining for the very first time. They feature a full corduroy upper in differing shades, velcro patches and a velvet liner - my favourite touch.
Being honest at this point in time I'm not 100% sold. I have professed my love of corduroy many a time, you only have to look in my wardrobe to see that, but there's something not quite right about this shoe. It's niggling at my mind and I can't put a finger on it. I'm not a huge Air Max 1 fan so maybe it's the sole, or maybe it's the colour palette, as the original render (that everyone voted for, may I add) was closer to Khaki than the Canary Yellow we have now. For those wondering, they fit closer to an Air Max 1 being that it's wide around the mid-foot unlike the standard Air Max 97 so I'd suggest going TTS, when/if you try to cop.
What I will say is Sean & Nike have done a banging job on the launch and it seems that everything has been thought of from special boxes and apparel to corduroy hats and iron-on patches, bravo!
The pair below belongs to my friend Tom who'll you know as @wonkycoma, accompanying me on the shoot alongside my boy Adam, aka DONNY RAGO, aka Birminghams notorious Pokemon kingpin. If you're looking for any design work he's my first point of call and can't recommend him enough. But hey, that's my love and shoutouts done, so as always let me know your thoughts on IG and good luck to all who want to try and grab them when they release over here.