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Nike Air Max 98 Review: Best Athletic Footwear or Outdated?

nike air max 98In the ever-evolving world of sneakers, few styles withstand the fleeting trends and emerge as icons. The Nike Air Max 98 is one such marvel, a shoe that encapsulates more than just the essence of athletic footwear. It embodies the rich tapestry of global culture while delivering ways for each person to express their style and creativity.

The story of the Nike Air Max 98 can only be told by paying homage to its predecessor, the 97. Riding on the wave of success from the 97's innovative full-length air unit, the 98s sought to push boundaries even further.

Designed by Sergio Lozano, the same visionary behind the Air Max 95, the 98 model introduced an aesthetic that was bold and unapologetically futuristic. Its design echoed the fast-paced world of the late '90s, capturing the essence of speed and momentum with its fluid lines and dynamic structure.

To commemorate the Air Max 98 anniversary, Nike has reissued the sneaker in original and new colourways.

Why is the Nike Air Max 98 Design so Distinctive & is it Outdated?

What sets the Air Max 98 apart is its multi-leveled wave aesthetic with full-length air support. These components brought the best of both worlds from the 95s and 97s to create a stunning release in 1998. That includes reflective piping to help you be seen in low-light conditions.

The upper is constructed with a mix of leather and mesh, delivering breathability with added durability. Different textures and colours allow for the shoe to become a visual statement piece while still serving runners and other athletes with intent.

It employs a unique lacing system that allows for a customizable fit, securing the sneaker snugly in place to limit foot movement.

Over the years, it has been re-released in various colourways and collaborations, each time resonating with a new generation while maintaining its appeal to long-time fans. It has become a staple for many, even as Nike releases new designs and ideas. It's about as close to timeless as you can get for a shoe that's more than 20 years old in its concepts.

If you've never seen the 98s before, the first impression is that you're looking at something from New Balance or Adidas. The competitive marketplace has done an excellent job of taking the various elements in this shoe to create something familiar. Still, you cannot go wrong with Lozano's original sneakers.

In recent years, the Air Max 98 has experienced a resurgence, thanks to Nike’s clever reissues and the cyclical nature of fashion.

How is it Constructed?

The upper base layer for the 98s is often made from a mesh fabric, which enhances ventilation, keeping the wearer's foot cool and comfortable.

Synthetic leather overlays layered on top of the mesh add structure and support to the sneaker. These components follow a unique wave pattern, a signature aesthetic of the Air Max 98, and are stitched in place to ensure durability.

The lacing system is integrated into the upper through loops and eyelets that are part of the overlays, allowing for a snug and adjustable fit.

As for the air unit, it is encased in a TPU shell, protecting the technology while maintaining the cushioning integrity it delivers to the wearer. The midsole is also made from polyurethane to provide stability and durability.

The outsole uses a high-traction rubber compound to deliver excellent grip. The waffle pattern at the bottom works with flexible grooves to align with natural walking and running movements.

Each component features meticulous attention to the fine details, which lowers the return rate for these sneakers for repairs compared to other competitive brands with similar stylings.

Notable Collaborations With the Nike Air Max 98

One of the most talked-about collaborations is with the streetwear titan, Supreme. Released in 2016, the Supreme x Nike Air Max 98 collection featured four unique colourways: Black, Metallic Silver, Red, and Snakeskin.

Each combined Supreme’s bold visuals with the classic design elements from Lozano, including the use of patent leather for a structurally sound sneaker. The Snakeskin option was quite popular for its luxurious first impressions and edgy appeal. They still retail for about seven times the original MSRP, with originals often priced at 60x or more when in good condition.

Another popular choice for the 98s is the Gundam colourway. It was part of the initial 1998 options and reissued in 2018. It features a combination of black, red, white, and blue, like the robots in the popular anime series.

Japanese sneaker boutique Atmos has a long history of memorable Nike collaborations, and its take on the Air Max 98 is no exception. Released as part of the "We Love Nike" pack, the Atmos take on this shoe featured a print based on the brand’s shoeboxes, making it the surprise hit of the collaboration series.

Should You Buy the Nike Air Max 98s Today?

Born from the innovative air of the late '90s and standing on the shoulders of its predecessors, the Air Max 98 elevated the tradition of visible cushioning technologies in shoes. Opting for this model today pays homage to the past while enjoying the innovative evolutions from the past generation.

The layered upper adds structural strength to the shoe while giving it a distinctive look. It pushes boundaries without being overt about it, allowing everyone to match up their fit without breaking the budget.

The Air Max 98 offers unparalleled comfort thanks to its full-length air unit. That makes it a stylish choice that removes significant fatigue levels for those who are on their feet all day. It's a versatile addition to any wardrobe with that adaptability.

Finally, the Air Max 98 holds a special place for sneaker enthusiasts as a collectable item. Limited edition releases and collaborations add to its desirability, making specific models highly sought after. Investing in a pair of 98s can be seen as adding a piece of sneaker history to your collection, with the potential for its value to appreciate over time.