Embodying the optimism and hedonism of the year it's named after
and loved by our Italian friends, the Nike
Air Max 97 is one of the best shoes ever, but the sheer quality of what preceded it has caused a few folks to forget just how good this shoe looks on the feet. You don't need Evisus, yellow lenses in your glasses or a coke problem to appreciate it either. The Air Max 97's designer, Christian Tresser deserves a lot of credit for delivering a sequel to the Air Max 95 that maintained the progressive aesthetic but didn't crumble in comparison to that masterpiece.
Where previously that air needed to be separated, the full-length air on this bullet train inspired design felt like the logical conclusion to the Max project and for several years that followed, it seemed to be the gas-filled apex of the project (even the Air Max 03 six years later used exactly the same air bag) until the 360 dropped in early 2006. The layers, the plentiful wraparound Scotchlite and the sense of speed that had the Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis endorsements, plus that minimal sewn swoosh made it look more like a vehicle than a shoe, taking Sergio Lozano's Giger-esque vision and getting all James Cameron on us. Support and shock absorption like never before courtesy of Tresser (who, we believe, was also responsible for some great '98-era Zoom runners and some Reebok DMX design circa 1999 too) made this a decidedly un-retro performance shoe of its time, but it's a perfect capsule of a more carefree era for us.
In the last year there's been Hyperfuse editions, the CVS edition and now, to match a whole family of remixes for early 2013, there's an Engineered Mesh Air Max 97 variant that's a little lighter, more breathable and aesthetically similar to the original, which if we're honest, still looks shiny and sleek enough to not warrant a single alteration. But, this is the age of the remix and these get a printed rather than sewn swoosh and plenty of extra perforated mesh that makes them more comfortable than ever. We'll always favor the OG, but who are we to stand in the way of progression? At least this is handled with a certain reverence for what makes the AM97 amazing. The OG silver makeup is pictured here, but the navy variation with the speckled sole looks to be carrying a distance concept with the '600K' print on the sockliner. These arrive in the Crooked Tongues store early next year.