WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
The silver bullet for your sizing woes.
1997 was a big year of scientific discovery for mankind – scientists would successfully clone Dolly the sheep from one single adult cell, but much more importantly, the geniuses at Nike would make the impossible possible, and take the Air Max 97 from concept to reality.
The brainchild of Christian Tresser (the footwear designer also behind the Nike Spiridon), the Air Max 97 was introduced to the world in a mindblowing metallic silver colourway inspired by the monochromatic silver sheen of mountain bikes. It was as if Nike were in contact with aliens, and they’d handed down this future technology to us. It would be a shoe of firsts. The first ever full-length air cushion featured in an Air Max sole. It debuted the use of 360-degree reflective 3M piping on a sneaker, mimicking the radiating ripples formed by water droplets disrupting the surface of water (and not Japanese bullet trains as many believe). It introduced functional details like concealed lacing systems, and breathable full mesh uppers to the world of athletic footwear.
This cult sneaker would become known globally as the ‘Silver Bullets’, ‘Silvers’, or ‘Le Silver’. It was a design so revolutionary at the time, it made the Nike execs in the boardroom at its unveiling feel uncomfortable. The future was here, but it was too different. Fortunately, the public would be more receptive of the shoe that seemed closer to liquid metal than a sneaker. It was a runaway success, particularly in Italy where it was adopted by graffiti writers, club goers and fashionista’s alike. Graffiti taggers loved it for it’s cyberpunk utilitarian feel pairing it with North Face outerwear, clubbers were thankful for it’s all-day (and night) comfort, whilst for the fashion crowd it’s minimalist aesthetic made it the perfect complement to pieces by fashion’s bad boys like Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang. From New York to Tokyo, if you weren’t wearing 97’s you most definitely weren’t it.
In 2017 for the 20th anniversary of its release, the Air Max 97 was rereleased. Since then, it’s been a canvas for many of your favourite designers most sought after collaborations with the Swoosh. Off-White, Undefeated, CLOT, Skepta and Sean Wotherspoon all made use of the Air Max 97.
So how do the modern iterations of the Air Max 97 fit, and just how comfortable is the 22 year old technology compared to your other crepes? We’ve found four avid sneakerheads who’ll give you the lowdown in the Ultimate Air Max 97 Sizing and Fit Guide.
Sneaker Instagrammer from Leipzig, Germany
It was 100% the futuristic silhouette which caught my attention – I’d never seen such a modern looking shoe with so much history behind it! Back in the day, I really wanted a pair but I couldn’t afford them, so I had to wait until I could earn my own money. That feeling when I bought my very first pair of AM97 was just incredible. To spend so much money on just one shoe was a totally new and different experience for me.
I always wear mine with some eye-catching and futuristic colours and outfits. Why? Because I always feel like I’m a person from the future when I wear these shoes. Also, you have to wear wider stuff with these shoes because they have an urban aesthetic and don’t look as cool with skinny jeans.
Comfort and fit:
I actually wear them true to size as with all my other Nike shoes, so for me there is no difference with the other models. I’d always recommend that you try on every pair of 97’s that you want to buy, because many of them are made from different materials and sometimes you may have to take upto a half size up or down more or less. It’s always tricky, because they aren’t the comfiest by Nike, but on the other hand they definitely are one of the craziest!
Normal protection with my protection gear at home, but tbh, I rock all of my shoes how I want till destruction. One of my favourite ever pairs is the Off-White AM97 Menta, I rock them like five days a week! It’s always important to treat your 97’s like a very rare piece of treasure as they’re a very sensitive silhouette.
Sneaker Instagrammer from New York, USA
The Air Max 97 is such an iconic shoe because it was the first full-length Air Max. It’s just such a beloved design! I personally love it because there’s been so many great collaborations along the way. There are endless possibilities with this shoe.
The Air Max 97 silhouette is very versatile, so you can basically rock anything with it. I sometimes throw on a pair of baggy sweatpants and oversized top for the comfy look. Other times, I’ll put on a pair of leggings, a tee and jacket for a more casual look.
Comfort and fit:
They’re super comfortable compared to other shoes because of the full length Air Max sole! Personally, they fit true to size for me. I go with my regular size and they fit similar to most of my other Nikes.
Nothing special, I keep them in their original boxes and only clean them when it’s necessary.
Sneaker blogger from Vienna, Austria
For me the Air Max 97 is an iconic shoe because over the past few years a lot of different colorways have been released. It’s always one of the most popular silhouettes. I like that they fit with almost every outfit. They can be an everyday beater or the highlight of your outfit - it’s your decision.
I style my Air Max 97’s different all the time. Sometimes with fancy pants, with dresses in the summer, or just with some jeans for an everyday look. I think they fit with nearly every outfit.
Comfort and fit:
In my opinion they are very comfortable, almost one of the most comfortable Nike silhouettes. But, I also know some people who don’t think that they’re very comfy, so it really depends. For me they are one of the most comfyI can wear them all day long. In Nike sneakers I take a US6.5 or US7, depending on what sizes are available, but both fit great. I’d recommend buying your regular Nike size, it should definitely fit. I think Nike shoes in general do fit a bit tight, so a half size up is usually fine too.
I just do a regular clean using sneaker specific cleaning products as with all my other sneakers. If there’s just a little spot on them, I’ll use some sneaker wipes to clean them instead.
Sneaker and fitness blogger from Los Angeles, USA
The Air Max 97 is such an iconic shoe because it was the first to expose the air unit throughout the whole midsole. Some people either hate the 97 or love it, and I happen to love it. I like the minimalistic look of the OG Silver Bullets, but also it’s cool how the waves of the upper come in various colours giving it a completely different look.
The Air Max 97’s are such a classic shoe for me, that they really can be worn in so many different ways. Personally, I dress more on the tomboy style side so my go-to outfit would be pairing the 97s with cargo pants, a tee, and either a denim jacket or a hoodie. If I want to dress them more girly I’ll pair them with a dress and a denim jacket.
Comfort and fit:
To be completely honest, I don't find the 97’s to be more comfortable than other Air Max silhouettes. They're cool if you're wearing them for a couple hours, but I definitely wouldn't wear these for a whole day at Disneyland. They're a little more on the stiff side which could be because the air unit running the length of the shoe. I'm usually between a women's 8 to 8.5 in Nike, and for the Air Max 97 I have to go for an 8.5. They're a bit more snug than other Air Max styles, so I'd suggest that if you're between sizes you should definitely go half a size up for the perfect fit.
The beauty of the Air Max 97 is that they look better when they are worn-in. It gives them "character". I don't usually clean my 97’s unless they have a big ugly scuff mark on them. That's when I'd use some Jason Markk to wipe off the unwanted mark.
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