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History & Design:

The Air Max 98 was overlooked when compared to the rest of Nike’s Air Max lineage for a number of different reasons. It might not seem the case in the 2020s, but go back to its release in 1998 and you’ll see how the shoe was met by a lack of excitement.

Designed by Sergio Lozano who had worked on the Air Max 95 a few years prior, Air technology had already seen a huge shift thanks to the arrival of the Air Max 97. The AM98 used the same full-length Air Sole Unit as the AM97, meaning the upper was where all the changes took place. People preferred the smooth design language on the 97, with few taking to the synthetic leather patches and overlaying strapping system of the newer 98. At the time, the 97s were also on sale, offering a better price point for a shoe people already favoured.

Then that summer, the Air Max 95 returned in a slew of new colours, which along with its established reputation and cheaper retail, drove even more people away from the newly released AM98. The Air Max 98 TL was another factor in the shoe’s hyper, an update which retooled the upper for better support while running. Later that year the TN Air Max Plus dropped, with its wild design language and focus on the new Tuned Air system in the sole, it was enough to drain the remaining levels of excitement that surrounded the AM98, despite the fact that it too had the Tuned Air technology.

Caught between the release of the AM97 and the TN Air Max Plus, the AM98 was slowly forgotten about, overshadowed by two marvels in footwear design. Similar to the Air Max 96, the 98 just wasn’t enough of a change in direction to convince people to pull out their wallets. It would be over 15 years until we would see them retro in 2014, with the “Team Orange” colourway proving one example of a strong new make-up. People were pleased to see the return of the Air Max model, although the buzz was still tempered.

Two years later in 2016, the Supreme x Nike Air Max 98 collection drove hype for the silhouette sky-high. The four-shoe capsule saw huge demand and sent prices on the secondary market soaring, all of which would create enough anticipation for the silhouette’s 20th Anniversary in 2018.

In 2018, the shoe would drop after a hugely successful year for the Air Max 97, however this time, it would share the spotlight with its older sibling. The Air Max 98 “Gundam” would also drop that year, selling out in an instant, with sneakerheads happy to have the OG back on their feet. All the way into 2019, the AM98 could be seen up and down the country, finally enjoying the shine it deserved.

Notable Editions & Collabs:

A standout within the Supreme collaboration from 2018 was the “Snakeskin” pair, which brought a whole new luxury aesthetic to the Air Max 98. The “Team Orange” edition that hit the shelves in 2014 was a JD Exclusive here in the UK, with it being a grail for many Air Max heads who hold it up against the OG make-ups such as the “Tour Yellow” and “Gundam”. Winning the “On Air” contest was the Air Max 98 “La Mezcla” (‘The Mix’) which dropped in 2019, representing the cultural and ethnic diversity that makes the city of New York great. The gradient upper in combination with the pastel tones made them a must-have for fans of the silhouette, not far off from the features that made the TN Air Max Plus so coveted.

Unlike the rest of the Air Max lineage, the 98 was not included in any of the Lunarlon or Ultra updated versions of Nike technology. This was partly due to the fact that the Swoosh didn’t believe the silhouette had enough of a fanbase but mainly because it didn’t receive a retro till 2014. After its successful return in 2018, we hope the Air Max 98 gets all the future love it deserves!

Make sure you check out our Air Max 98 Size Guide to find out the perfect fit for you!