The Air Max 97 is an interesting choice to potentially be plugged into the fashion hype machine, though. It’s mostly been a general release sneaker—the type of steadily stocked shoe that you can reliably buy from your local Footlocker year-round. It has gotten some hype-worthy attention over the years, but nothing quite as meteoric as other Nike models. The influential sneaker boutique Undefeated has tapped the 97 for multiple collaborations, while the late designer and longtime Nike collaborator Virgil Abloh gave the shoe his magical touch. The most surprising hit was a fan-designed sneaker by Sean Wotherspoon, a co-founder of the beloved secondhand shop Round Two, although, technically, that one mashed the Air Max 1 with the 97. Either way, it was still a bonafide hit, showing up on the feet of celebrities like LeBron James and Travis Scott. (Wotherspoon designs for Adidas now.)
Looking ahead, the collaboration with Comme des Garçons is likely a sign of things to come. In 2018, we first saw a new Nike style— the React 87 Element—on the runway for Undercover, the label helmed by Japanese designer Jun Takahashi. It was only a matter of time before the next started showing up on its own in limited-edition colorways. We’re likely to see a similar roll-out for the 97. Plus, the sneaker is undeniably a solid fit for the 1990s and early-aughts style that continues to rise. Only time will tell what the future holds for the Air Max 97, but there are worse bets to make than that the sneaker has one hell of a year.