Pickup Stories: Nike AM 97

Nike AM 97 Ultra 2017 in Black and in Rose

This pick up story is a little different. No waiting in line, no getting up at 3am, no meeting up in a sketchy parking lot to meet a guy for some sneakers. Instead we got invited to a Nike Air Max 97 pop-up installation in Toronto to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the AM97.



The event was an art collaboration with artists from FMFounders. We got to talk with the artists and they explained how they were inspired by the sneaker, the sneaker’s original inspiration (the bullet trains) and the evolution of the retro AM97 into the 2017 Ultra.


2017 Silver Bullet.

I find the AM97 to be one of the most retro-future inspired runners ever made. I know that retro-futurism is about referencing the visions of the future that were conceived in the past (and not the recent past of the 90s so much). But the lines of the AM97 and the inspiration of the bullet trains does bring that concept to mind for me – in the 90s there was a sense that our future was going to be all about things like bullet trains and Japanese technology. We only had the vaguest sense that the future was going to be about networks and the digital. So when I see the AM97, I see a vision of a future, preserved in time, that has not manifested.


Future Forward

The artists who were part of the #FutureForward exhibition gave us a sense of their vision of the future, a vision very much rooted in 2017, not 1997. Rather than presenting us something pristine and shiny and technological and digital, they presented something more organic, more hands-on. Less harsh than what might come to mind when you see and hear about the “Silver Bullet”.


Organic interpretation of the AM 97.

The exhibition, the mirrors, the conveyor belt portrayed a sense of movement through the circle of time. The paintings on acrylic echoed both the lines of the AM97 and the colour palette of the Ultras releasing this month in way reminiscent of the slides used by scientists.  And the way the sneakers were displayed on the wall as finished experiments reinforced this sense of a laboratory (it also reminded me somewhat of the ethos of Tom Sachs, in terms of the concept of filed experiments, not the look and feel).


Filed AM97s

So, what about the sneakers? I have to admit I was a little dubious about the Ultras since I love the OGs. When I read old-school Air Max fans talking online, they tend to pour hate on anything that changes the classics. I was beginning to let that thinking poison my own feelings.


Wear what you like. And I like these.

Then I realized… I am not a purist. I wear what I like. I like faithfully recreated retro Air Max AND I like ultra-modern sneakers like the Vapor Max. I also like these Air Max 97 Ultras. The black colourway is really sleek and retro-inspired while also being extremely modern. The rose colourway’s highlight has to be the gum sole – something only a tiny handful of the OGs had. The verdict? Wear what you like!

Thanks to Nike Toronto for the sneakers and the experience. The Air Max 97 Ultra (and premiums) are available at Nike.ca and at Footlocker Canada.