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Nike Air Max 97 Review: Is Full-foot Air Support a Game-changer?

nike air max 97People describe the Nike Air Max 97 shoes in several ways. If you're familiar with them, you may have used some version of the following to describe your impressions.

“It’s a slice of sneaker history that deserves more recognition than it receives.

“These shoes have become a cultural symbol for many, showing status and creativity with one fashionable element.

“It is a masterclass in shoe design that modern companies could learn from if they took the time to examine them.”

Released in 1997, this addition to the Air Max lineup came to be under the supervision of Nike designer Christian Tresser. The goal was to bring elements from the natural world and technological innovation to develop a captivating, evergreen design that would stand up to time.

One of the most captivating inspirations behind the Air Max 97's design was the ripple effect of a water droplet in a pond. This concept was masterfully translated into the sneaker's design through undulating lines and reflective piping, which Tresser used to recreate water's dynamic patterns and fluidity.

He also drew inspiration from Japan's bullet trains, embodying speed, efficiency, and futuristic aesthetics.

Getting to Know Christian Tresser

Before making waves at Nike, Tresser had already been involved in footwear design, working on projects that included various sports and performance shoe designs. His industry experience would become a tremendous asset for the 97s and other designs.

What makes him unique as a shoe designer is his ability to observe elements in the world around him and turn them into practical designs.

While the Air Max 97 remains his most famous work, Tresser's contributions to footwear design include other notable models and innovations. His work continues to inspire new generations of designers and sneaker enthusiasts, proving that thoughtful design can leave a lasting impression on culture and industry.

Why Full-foot Air Support is a Game-changer

For athletes, the full-foot air support meant more than just comfort. The design updates in the 97s translated into better performances and outcomes. Consistent cushioning across the feet gives each person a more uniform pressure distribution when moving, improving the efficiency of explosive energy and its response.

When people said they could jump higher or run faster wearing these shoes, they weren't lying! The technology incorporated into Tresser's design could accomplish those outcomes while combating fatigue with improved shock absorption.

By reducing the impact forces that travel through the body with each step, there's a potential for long-term health benefits, including reduced risk of injuries and joint problems.

As for the full-length air bladder, incorporating it into the design allowed the shoe to become a status symbol of sorts. You felt like you were someone when buying these shoes in 1997 because no one else had anything like it. After adding in the futuristic look that became an instant first impression, it was hard not to love everything about wearing them.

These shoes set a new standard for what we could expect from Nike and other footwear manufacturers because of the support and performance they delivered.

How the Air Max 97 Changed the Sneaker Industry

The Air Max 97 delivered a winning design and technological improvements that changed how we think about shoes. It was the first Nike sneaker to feature a full-length air unit, stretching from heel to toe, providing unparalleled cushioning and a buoyant feeling while walking or running.

Like other shoes in the Air Max lineup, you can see the air cushion technology from the side, delivering another fashion element for those looking at streetwear options.

Although it was initially designed for the athletic, the Nike Air Max 97 grew from these origins because of its unique colourways and overall comfort. Because of the support available with the 97s, you could be on your feet all day and not feel the stress in your ankles, knees, or hips.

It became particularly iconic in the Italian streetwear scene, earning the nickname "Le Silver" in Italy, where it was seen as a status symbol among the youth.

Given the dynamic nature of sneaker releases and Nike's propensity for innovation and collaboration, it's safe to say that the number of Air Max 97 colourways reaches into the hundreds. From rainbows to all-white to blackout designs, there truly is something for everyone in this lineup.

The 97s Evolution Over Time

Over the years, the Air Max 97 has seen countless colourways, collaborations, and reinterpretations, each adding a new chapter to its storied legacy.

Different efforts from various fashion houses and celebrity designs have given this sneaker new life each time while honouring its initial legacy. The partnerships have ranged from subtle, sophisticated palettes to bold, avant-garde designs, showcasing the versatility and enduring appeal of the Air Max 97.

One of the most notable collaborations was with UNDEFEATED, a Los Angeles-based sneaker boutique, which added a fresh, street-savvy edge to the classic silhouette.

Another option in the 97s collaboration series came from Sean Wotherspoon. It delivered a unique twist by incorporating a corduroy design with elements of the Air Max 1. It was voted for production through the Nike Vote Forward campaign in 2017, highlighting the community's role in shaping sneaker culture.

Similarly, UK grime artist Skepta's take on the Air Max 97 was inspired by his visits to Morocco. It featured a vibrant colour palette and unique materials, reflecting his personal style and cultural influences.

Today, the Nike Air Max 97 remains as relevant and sought-after as ever. Its appeal lies not just in its groundbreaking design and technological innovations but in its ability to evolve and resonate with each new generation. It is the identity of an entire generation for some, while a moment of nostalgia for others.

Even for those new to this shoe, the artistry and craftsmanship make you look good, and your feet feel great! Each pair is a testament to Nike's and Tresser's efforts to develop something that many people would grow to love.