In 1998, Nike was riding high off the massive success of its Air Max 97 and Air Jordan 12 sneakers. The former became an overnight favorite amongst 1.0 sneakerheads; the latter MJ wore in 1997 while winning his fifth NBA title (including that game he played while trying not to ralph all over Scottie Pippen’s jersey). But then came the Air Max 98. In the face of high expectations for the next edition of the shoe, Nike…kind of put up a brick. The 98s weren’t outright hated, but were criticized for looking too similar to the 97, despite their fresh new colorways. As a result, the 98s became one of Nike’s few ‘forgotten’ Air Max sneakers.
That all changed when a skate brand from New York took a crack at the silhouette. In 2016, Supreme injected the 98s with rocket-powered hype, doing the shoes up with colors that drew from Prada Sport kicks of old. And now, twenty years after they first hit shelves, Nike is bringing back the Air Max 98s in their original colorway, known among collectors as the ‘Gundam‘ for their resemblance to the anime character. And considering the folks buying hyped-up Nikes today are the ones who were watching Gundam back in the day, the Air Max 98s are poised to become one of the most coveted sneakers of the year. It’s long overdue.
Back in ’98, what made the Nike Air Max 98 technologically advanced was their full-length Air sole, which 20 years later looks like the Step 1 in a progression that ends with the all-air, all-the-time Nike VaporMax. But that’s not has people most excited about their comeback. For one, this is the first time they’ve ever returned to shelves since their OG release. And style-wise, the white, blue, and red colorway couldn’t be a better fit for today’s oversized sneakers and track pants-obsessed culture.
Crafted with premium material and unique detailing throughout, this silhouette is both eye-catching and vintage. Soft nylon padding sits alongside leather on the upper with a premium mudguard that travels the full length of the shoe.
Sitting underfoot is a red coloured Air Unit in the similar style as the Air Max 97. This same shade hits a mini-Swoosh which sits across the sidewall. Apart from these style cues which clearly borrow inspiration from previous releases, the Air Max 98 does feature standalone detailing. That includes a unique lacing system which features elasticated laces and a toggle pull.
The classic Gundam Air Max 98 takes us right back to the old school. If you’re a fan of vintage footwear, this is one silhouette not to miss!