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The Resurgence of the Nike Air Max 90

Prior to 2019, the Nike Air Max 90 was going through a rough patch. While the model has remained somewhat popular amongst enthusiasts, the Air Max 90 has been cast out of the limelight in recent years. The popularity of the shoe has been at a low, and other Air Max models such as the 97 and 98’s have soared in demand in comparison. This is mainly due to the fact that the 90 has almost been neglected by Nike. The general release colourways were poor, and there had not been any collaborations on the model for a very long time. This lack of buzz surrounding the model had knock-on effects in the secondary markets, and as a result, the market for Nike’s Air Max 90 was almost dead. I remember seeing people struggling to sell some proper grail status 90’s during this time for hundreds of pounds less than what they were worth. We’re talking about some of the best; Tounge & Cheeks, Kaws, Warhawks… it was crazy. While sellers struggled to move their pairs, people looking to buy the model could find amazing steals. I took advantage of this and was able to find my personal grail, the Nike Air Max 90 x DQM ‘Bacon’ (2004) in my size and in amazing condition. I bought this pair in 2017 and paid no more than £140… I still can’t believe it. You’ll have to excuse me because I feel like I bring up my pair of Bacon’s every time I mention an Air Max 90, but they are number one in my opinion. Anyway moving on!

I also want to add that even though I’ve said the last few years have not been exciting for the 90’s, there have been a few one-off standout releases. There have been a few decent GR’s and QS’s, for example, the Halloween Air Max 90’s which released in 2014 along with a few nice colourways of the ‘Ice’ quick strikes.

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Nike Air Max 90 ‘Halloween’ worn by @william_nikelondon, shot by @amieejerrard

Obviously, Nike’s Air Max 90 debuted in 1990, meaning next year, 2020, is the models 30th Anniversary. If you think back to 2017 when Nike celebrated the Air Max 1’s 30th Anniversary, it’s hard not to get excited about what is to come next year. Air Max month in 2017 had it all; retros of OG colourways, new Air Max models, the ‘Vote Forward’ campaign, the Atmos elephant retro! I honestly cannot wait to see what Nike will give us for the anniversary of one of their most iconic models. This year, Nike has already started pushing the Air Max 90 in preparation for 2020, and the buzz around the model has already begun.

The Air Max 90 madness began in March when Nike dropped the ‘Mars Landing’ Air Max 90’s. This was a follow-up release from the famous ‘Moon Landing’ 90’s which are one of the most eye-catching Air Max’s you will see, constructed of a fully reflective 3M upper. Given the popularity of the Moon Landing’s, sneakerheads went crazy for this release and we saw an AM90 sell out for the first time in years (with the exception of the Off-White collaborations, which I have discounted due to the hyped nature of all Off-White x Nike drops). The release of the Mars Landing 90’s proved just to be a taster of the hype we would witness surround the model to come.

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Nike Air Max 90 ‘Mars Landing’ by @sole_obsession

A retro of the ‘Python’ Air Max 90’s, which originally released in 2003, came next at the start of June. All features of the shoe were kept true to their OG form, and the pair flew off shelves! They were released alongside a green Python colourway which proved just as popular. Each colourway has since been restocked so if these take your fancy you can still get your hands on them.

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Nike Air Max 90 ‘Green Python’ by @pattajunky

Later in the same month, Nike celebrated Pride Month with a commemorative pack of shoes called the BETRUE pack. The pack consisted of an Air Max 720, Air Tailwind 79, Zoom Pegasus Turbo and an Air Max 90, which proved to be the more desirable of the bunch. The pair had a multilayered swoosh in different colours of the LGBTQ flag as well as a bold yellow heel wedge.

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Nike Air Max 90 ‘BETRUE’ by @juttenutte

In June we were treated to a very special release comprised of two pairs of Air Max 90’s, the ‘Mixtape Side A/Side B’ collection. This set of sneakers was inspired by the days before streaming services and CDs. One pair, dubbed ‘Side A’ features a clean white and grey upper with yellow accents. If you’re looking for a pair with crazy details, look no further! The attention to detail on this pair is amazing. On the tongue, you will see embroidered text reading ‘Side A’ as well as ’33 1/3′ RPM, which is the speed at which a record plays.

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Nike Air Max 90 ‘Mixtape Side A’ by @lowricrook

This is the same story as the ‘Side B’ pair, but instead with a contrasting colourway featuring an all-over covert black and grey makeup. On the outsole of both shoes, you will discover a ‘Tracklist’ (in keeping with the theme of the pack) which lists eight iconic Air Max 90 colourways. These are; ‘OG Infrared’, ‘King of the Mountain’, ‘Anniversary Cork’, ‘Moon Landing’, ‘Lemon Frost’, ‘Untold Truth’, ‘OG Ostrich’ and ‘BRS Powerwall’. In my opinion, these are the heavy hitters from this year’s surge of Air Max 90 releases, in particular, the ‘Side B’s’. I was gutted not to get a pair for retail when they released! That being said, the resale price has dipped a little bit in the last month or so. The only pair for me which competes with these will come a little further down the list!

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Nike Air Max 90 ‘Mixtape Side B’ by @emilyhol_x

‘Viotech’ is a term for a colourway which is used from time to time by Nike on various different models. In 2002 the Swoosh brought us the Viotech Nike Dunk low featuring an array of primary and secondary colours in a mismatched colour block scheme. In 2003, an Air Max 1 dubbed ‘Viotech’ was released in collaboration with Tokyo based sneaker boutique, Atmos. This different type of Viotech incorporated a variety of neutral tones and a bold purple swoosh. This year, Nike dropped two Air Max 90’s using the original 2002 Viotech Dunk colour scheme with an upper composed of vibrant suede. Enthusiasts went crazy for the distinctive pairs and both 90’s dropped in August, making them one of the better summer releases of the year. The second colourway (2.0) is still available at some stores so be sure to have a look if you like the look of these.

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Nike Air Max 90 ‘Viotech 2.0’ by @shoezen.one

Nike spiced up the return of the Air Max 90 further with the implementation of the model to their ‘Nike By You’ program, the modern-day Nike ID. Not only was the 90 available for customisation, but there was a limited run of Levis options allowing sneaker enthusiasts to use premium materials and colours on their own unique pairs. The response to this design opportunity was enormous, and the Levis/Nike by You options expired after about 5 minutes! People who were quick enough conjured up some pretty remarkable pairs, making those who failed to secure a pair that much saltier! In years gone by, the Air Max 90 probably would not have been the model of choice by Nike to use for a design collaboration this huge. This is one of the reasons perhaps that the popularity of the model has diminished. The drive by Nike this year to propel the Air Max 90 back into popular demand amongst old and new sneakerheads has been amazing. The releases and collaborations thus far have been some of the best of the year, and the boom in adoration for the model has come perfectly in time for its 30th Anniversary next year.

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Levis x Nike By You by @mikeknowsbest

The final set of Air Max 90’s which I want to touch on are hands down some of the best from the year. This pack is, of course, the Basement x Nike Air Max 90’s which consists of three colourways, each representing a different city in the United Kingdom. Nike and the Basement have linked up only once before back in 2017 on pair of Nike Dunk Lows. While the limited Dunk was exclusive to a pop-up put on by members of the Basement collective, the 90’s were widely available at various retailers around the country. The overall theme revolving around this pack of sneakers was ‘Real People Doing Real Things’ and the Basement portrayed this message incredibly well through the construction of each pair.

The first of the three to drop was the ‘Glasgow’ pair on the 5th of October. Arguably the best of the bunch, the shoe featured a fully water-resistant tonal grey upper, with a leather orange tongue and reflective swooshes. The materials on this particular pair were selectively chosen to embody a street-ready shoe for everyday wear. The Basement/Nike logo is embossed on the tongue, another small detail which makes this shoe a scorcher!

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The Basement x Nike Air Max 90 ‘Glasgow’ by @jay.zed_

Next came the ‘Manchester’ Air Max 90’s. This subtle sneaker was reasonably slept-on compared to its other city pack counterparts, but nevertheless, it packs a punch. The Manchester pair of 90’s feature an all-over black upper, made up of water-resistant Codura, which is offset by hits of neon green on the heel-tab and pull-tab. The detail which really sets this pair apart from the others is the use of the Jewel swoosh, rather than the traditional swoosh. This is the first and only time a Jewel swoosh has been used on an Air Max 90 but I doubt it will be the last.

The ‘London’ Nike Air Max 90 was the final instalment of The Basement’s City Pack trio. This pair came complete with a range of premium materials in different tones of grey. Each grey hue on the upper had its own set material, giving the model a different yet harmonious feel across the shoe. The stand out feature on the London pair was the use of interchangeable velcro swooshes, which give the owner a degree of personalisation. This is an element which Nike has deployed on a number of models over the past two years, most notably on the Nike Air Force 1 and the Air Jordan 3. The Basement 90’s arrived with four different swoosh options which only added to the desirability of the collaboration. I mentioned earlier that only one pair competed with the ‘Side Bs’ for my Air Max 90 of the year, and this is it. The London pair from the Basement trio is my favourite from the pack and is honestly close to perfection.

The year as a whole has been an extremely exciting period for fans of the Air Max 90. The buzz has been brought back to the model through various releases, events and collaboration surrounding the icon, that is the Air Max 90. It is fair to say that Nike’s neglect of the shoe is well and truly over! I have seen 2019 to be a bit of a ‘resurgence’ of the Air Max 90, hence the title of this article, as even one year ago no one really cared about it! I understand that popularity and hype surrounding a model doesn’t make it a good shoe but it is nice to see the 90 getting a bit of love once again. This year, despite the madness, has only been a taster of what is to come in 2020. Already, we have been treated to some information regarding the future of the model next year.

In 2017 Nike brought back a remastered Air Max 1 much to the enjoyment of fans of the model. Similarly, next year the Swoosh intend to revisit the Air Max 90 and bring it back in its true OG form with adjustments to the shape, construction and detailing of the shoe. The cut of the toe box and mudguard have been altered to sit more at the height at which they did 30 years ago. The most obvious change to current 90’s is the stitch which runs over the swoosh, which Nike has incorporated on the remastered pairs. Nike is also meant to be recreating the ‘skinny-box’ design which was so prominent throughout the 1990’s – completing that true OG Air Max 90 feel!

So far we know that the sneakers are releasing in their OG Infrared colourway, a must cop for many Air Max nerds like myself, along with Volt, Blue, Obsidian and Teal renditions. A special 30th Anniversary pair with a White/Sail upper will also be available featuring commemorative dubrae’s.

I for one cannot wait for what is to come in 2020 surrounding Nike’s Air Max 90 and I know many of you feel the same way! I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent in photos of their pairs for me to use in this article. For this one, I really wanted to get as many people involved as possible, rather than using stock photos or photos from the big blogs. The response I got back from everyone was immense, so thank you all!

Go and follow:

  • william_nikelondon
  • amieejerrard
  • sole_obsession
  • pattajunky
  • juttenutte
  • lowricrook
  • emilyhol_x
  • shoezen.one
  • mikeknowsbest
  • jay.zed_

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