The Air Max 97 turns 25 this year, and what better way to celebrate this silver jubilee than with a new release of the silver bullets? Widely regarded to be the most iconic colourway of the infamous Nike silhouette, the silver bullets have enjoyed a decorated and somewhat unexpected history – from being the sneakers of the Italian underground scene, to dedicated festival beaters around the planet. So where did it all start?
Released in 1997, the Air Max 97s were conceptualised by Christian Tresser at Nike – who’s previous experience was in designing elevated football boots; an aesthetic that translated into their final design. Inspired by rippling liquids, like a drop hitting the surface of a pond, Tresser’s fluid lines, fascination with the metallic and futuristic design soon became a hit within the sneaker space – although notably not to the same extent as some of Nike’s other bestselling silhouettes.
It was only when the club kids in Milan and wider Italy started adopting them that they blew up. Dubbed ‘le silvers’, the silver bullet 97s soon became a sneaker staple for Milanese and Napolese clubbers, DJs and ‘cool kids’. Also heavily worn by graffiti artists, Riccardo Tisci remembered the ‘sexy bad boy and bad girl in the club’ having them, and that if you didn’t own a pair, ‘you weren’t cool’!
As with anything underground in fashion, it didn’t take long until the silhouette made its way from subcultures into the mainstream. Becoming a go-to for footballers off-duty, before being spotted on designers at Milan Fashion Week and then making their way onto the runway, the Air Max 97s found their footing in the fashion space by the turn of the century – literally.
Since then, they’ve continued to be a staple nightlife shoe – you often spot the reflective fluid lines of silver bullets in clubs, at festivals, and on the feet of dancing city youth. They’re also still embroiled in the high fashion world, as seen in the CDG Homme Plus show in January of this year. Traversing subcultures, industries and audiences, the Air Max 97s are indisputably iconic, and never more so than as silver bullets.
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