After months of rumors and teasers, we finally got an official look at the Virgil Abloh x Nike collaboration project. The lineup surprised many by revealing 10 sneakers, which include both classic models as well as newer silhouettes. Sneakers such as the Air Max 97 and Presto saw new life via Abloh’s creative touch, while Converse’s Chuck Taylor adopted a more adventurous approach in its choice of materials and even in the shape. To get a more detailed understanding of the release, we decided to take a look back at the original models and how they compared to Abloh’s interpretations.
Nike Air Max 90
Originally known as the Nike Air Max III, this Tinker Hatfield-designed model made its official debut in 1990 in a “Hyvent Orange” color scheme. The pair would eventually become the Air Max 90 — a stylish and comfortable runner fitted with The Swoosh’s innovative Airsole unit. Since its debut, the Air Max 90 has been utilized for numerous collaborations, as well as celebratory releases from the footwear giant.
Nike Air VaporMax
In celebration of the most recent Air Max Day, Nike managed to take its innovation to new heights by revealing the Air VaporMax sneaker. The Swoosh dubs the model’s cushioning system as the closest thing to walking on air with the complement of its flexible Flyknit upper. Its full-length Air VaporMax unit made its debut back in March and has seen a countless amount of colorways since, in addition to customization options via NikeID.
Nike Air Presto
It made its debut in 2000 and hasn’t slowed down since. The trio of Tobie Hatfield, Kevin Hoffer and Bob Mervar brought a simple idea to life thanks to the frustration of collapsing collars on running shoes. Soon a midfoot cage and external heel counter would be incorporated in the sneaker that would be widely known as the “T-Shirt for the foot.” The Huarache model’s neoprene material was originally planned for the Presto but would eventually be swapped for mesh due to the enhanced breathability. Moreover, the sock-like silhouette received its name via crowd-sourcing. 300 submissions later the, “Presto” name was born with an inspiration rooted in magicians completing magic tricks.
Air Jordan 1
No one knew the sneaker industry would change forever back in 1985. Designed by Peter Moore, the Air Jordan 1 would assist Michael Jordan in taking flight to the top of the NBA’s elite class and ultimately engrained in the history book of sports, period. The model would generate backlash for the GOAT during its original debut as it would be banned by the NBA due to breaking the league’s uniform policy at the time. This would lead to more eyes being glued to MJ’s Air Jordan 1 shoe, resulting in it being arguably the most notable basketball-turned-casual-sneaker of all time.
Making its debut in the ’70s, Nike’s Blazer model was found on the likes of NBA greats such as George Gervin. Over time, the silhouette has grown popular as a casual model that’s seen its fair share of collaborative projects. Virgil’s latest rendition of the Blazer joins the likes of Stussy, Futura and Supreme as collaborators.
Nike Air Force 1 Low
Perhaps the most iconic sneaker of all time, Nike’s Air Force 1 has withstood the test of time since its inception in the early ’80s. The Bruce Kilgore-designed sneaker would make a long-lasting statement on the basketball court which would then transition to fans wearing it frequently in casual environments. Over time, the Air Force 1 has seen a countless amount of themed colorways in addition to a long list of collaborations. The resurging model has also been an appropriate canvas to many DIY projects, serving as the perfect model for Abloh’s accessible aesthetic.
Nike React Hyperdunk 2017
Still new, the Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 made its debut on the feet of Draymond Green as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017 NBA Finals. The model continues the lineage of the Swoosh’s Hyperdunk basketball model, serving as its most innovative yet. Its Flyknit upper sits atop of a newly introduced React foam cushioning that’s complemented by a pressure-mapped outsole.
Nike Zoom Vaporfly
This runner was first introduced as one to assist track & field athletes to complete a marathon in under two hours in an initiative dubbed Breaking2. Nike’s Zoom Vaporfly made its debut alongside two other silhouettes in the Zoom Fly and Air Zoom Pegasus 34 back in June. Its Flymesh upper and carbon fiber plate helped push the performance efficiency of the silhouette.
Converse Chuck Taylor
This classic was initially introduced as an elite basketball sneaker back in 1917. It has since made a significant transition from performance to casual thanks to its simplicity. Converse’s Chuck Taylor has seen numerous upgrades over time, but is mainly recognized by its canvas upper, rubber toe cap and brown rubber sole.
Nike Air Max 97
Recently retroed in celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Nike Air Max 97 became the first model from the Swoosh to host a full-length Air Max unit within its midsole. It’s widely known for its 3M reflective piping around the entire sneaker as the design inspiration hails from high-speed bullet trains found in Japan, hence its streamlined aesthetic.
For more on the Off-White™ founder, make sure to check out our in-depth conversation with him at his second Hong Kong retail store.