Why Sean Wotherspoon’s Air Max 97/1 is Important to Sneaker Culture in 2018

Sean Wotherspoon is a vintage collector and curator who started his store Round Two out of Richmond, Virginia. In Nike’s 2017 ‘Vote Forward’ campaign Sean’s Air Max 97 and Air Max 1 hybrid was chosen by the public to be produced and released on Air Max day 2018. Until now, the shoe has had a few small-scale releases in the States and has caused a frenzy amongst sneakerheads worldwide. Sean’s eye-catching Air Max 97/1 is not your everyday Air Max model and has changed the sneaker culture going forward into 2018. Here’s how.

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For his Air Max, Sean combined two of his favourite and absolutely classic Nike models. The sole of the Air Max 1 released in 1987 and the first shoe to feature visible air was used with the upper of the Air Max 97. In the past, Nike has created a variety of hybrids by combining two or more models. For example, in 2006 Nike came out with the ‘One Time Only’ pack, consisting of a mixture of models with the Air Max 360 air unit and sole. However, in recent years we have not seen too many hybrids whatsoever…until now.

Of course, during the Vote Forward campaign, other designers created hybrids from all sorts of models, but Sean’s was certainly the stand out contender. Ever since his success in the competition we have seen Nike come out with a variety of different hybrids, feeding off the buzz surrounding Wotherspoon’s Air Max 97/1. One of my personal favourites is the Vapormax Plus, a sneaker consisting of the Air Max Plus (TN) and the Vapormax. I feel like Sean has really pushed the sneaker culture in this direction and brought sneaker hybrids back for 2018.

 

Another way in which Sean Wotherspoon’s Air Max 97/1 has changed the current sneaker culture is by diversifying the materials used on kicks. On the upper of his shoe, Sean has used corduroy in an array of colours added with a velour inner. Sean’s inspiration for the corduroy upper came from his love for vintage Nike, in particular, the corduroy Nike hats from the 80’s and 90’s. This material is one we haven’t seen Nike use for some time, probably since the collaborations with Patta on the Air Max 1 (correct me if I’m wrong!). Ever since production of Sean’s Air Max began, other brands have hopped onto the corduroy wave. For example Converse and A$AP Nast, who took inspiration from Sean on their One Star collaboration.

Furthermore, the upper of the 97/1 is made to fray and wear-in over time. In interviews, Sean has mentioned his love for old clothing and sneakers, which feel worn and full of character.

“You gain this nostalgic feeling even if you werent apart of it” – ya boy Sean

By adding this feature to his own model, he is inspiring people to wear his product almost into the ground, not just store it away in a box. 

Overall, Sean Wotherspoon’s Nike Air Max 97/1 is a refreshing change to the sneaker scene. It is important to the culture in moving things forward through innovative concepts and material usage. It is a general switch up to the trends we have seen in the past few years and its influence throughout the culture has already begun.

Sean’s Air Max 97/1 will be available worldwide on the 26th of March 2018.

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