Obviously, Nike has cultural icons. Plenty of them. The collaborations speak for themselves but I’m talking about flying the flag for the Air Max Plus (also known as TNs) like the Aussies and repping Jordans in the States.
Every person, every nation, has a Swoosh icon that it places on a pedestal above all others.
Tracking the rise of a particular Nike silhouette across nations often lies in subculture; in the bubbling communities that take a sneaker as their uniform or a status symbol that unites them. When it comes to Swoosh icons, these movements are often nestled in the ’90s, treated with rose-tinted nostalgia, and lamented as a new generation clamors to take them as their own.
As this game of stylistic cat and mouse unfolds, the ebb and flow of trends come to life, seeing to it that certain silhouettes don’t only maintain their legacy but become cultural touchstones, living on forever in notoriety.
If you’re from the UK, I have no doubts that you’ve seen a fair few pairs of Air Max 95s in your time.
Whether that’s around your small suburban hometown, streets across London’s boroughs, up in Manchester and Liverpool, or filling the fields of festivals throughout the summer. More so than any other in the Air Max family, the 95 is active, loved, and adored by a nation, whether we’d all like to admit it or not.
Conceived by Sergio Lozano and the AM95 is instantly recognizable from its revolutionary human anatomy-inspired design details: an outsole influenced by the shape of the spine, mesh and suede sidewalls representative of muscle fibers, a lacing system that owes its curves to the rib cage.
I’d argue that the loudest and proudest supporters of the AM95 in the UK, the ones responsible for redubbing them “110s,” are those enriched in Grime culture.
For those that don’t know, 95s used to cost £110 in the UK, hence the nickname. Despite inflation, the price remains the same.
Throughout the last two decades, 110 and 95 references have been littered throughout Grime, Drill, and UK Rap tracks, immortalizing the sneaker as a part of our culture.
Like Footsie said, “if you’re talking a Air Max, trust me it’s gotta be a 95.”
But, over the years, it felt like the AM95’s infamy had slowly evaporated. You’d absolutely still see pairs all over the gaff, don’t get me wrong, but excitement surrounding the silhouette had faltered due to, among other things, a lack of fresh colorways.
For a while, it’s felt like the 95 has been reserved for the shelves of JD Sports and Footasylum, with basic “Triple Black” pairs (which, in fairness, you can never go wrong with), re-seasonal neutral colorways, and other lackluster iterations taking prominence.
These aren’t the looks that made us fall in love with the silhouette.
Credit where credit is due, designer @lorenz.og has gone above and beyond to showcase the sneaker’s potential with some of his coldest “Patended Colorschemes” reserved for the 95, sending that UK energy stateside to the feet of Lil Yatchy and Joe La Puma.
While I’ve got mad love for the above, anyone that loves a 95 knows its peak is white mesh bordered by a grey gradient.
The OG “Neon,” “Greedy 3.0,” “Crystal Blue,” “Solar Red,” “Tour Yellow” are admittedly pretty basic, all things considered, but that’s what makes them so perfect.
Those core colorways work so well because they highlight the subtle intricacies of the Air Max 95’s design. And make-up that does the same sells just as quickly as the colorways issued during the AM95’s heyday.
If you needed proof that these are the type of palettes that fans of the silhouette adore, all it takes is one look at StockX or KLEKT to see just how well the recent “Dark Beetroot” colorway is doing.
It came, it went, it resold hard.
Don’t call it a comeback, though: the Air Max 95 never left. It just needs a little TLC to shine.