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Throwback Thursday: The 5 Most Important Nike Stories of 2017

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By Drew Hammell

2017 was another incredible year for the Swoosh, with plenty of technological advances, creative collaborations, and popular retro releases. In the grand scheme of sneaker history, it’s too early to tell how 2017 will fare in terms of significance. It’s safe to say there were some memorable achievements, though. Here are the top 5 most important Nike stories from the past year.

1. Air Max 97 20th Anniversary

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@nikestories in the Air Max 97 ‘Metallic Gold

When the 20th anniversary draws near for any classic sneaker, Nike usually celebrates in a big way. This year was over-the-top for the Air Max 97, and no one seemed to be complaining. The silhouette felt as fresh as it did twenty years ago, with the return of OG colors like the Silver Bullet and Atlantic Blue models. Nike also introduced sleeker, lighter “Ultra” models. There was a full spectrum of colorways, plus special limited edition models by brands like UNDFTD and artists like Skepta. Nike even held an invite-only house music party in a New York City subway terminal hosted by Boiler Room. The Air Max 97 truly became the sneaker that everyone had to have in 2017.

2. KAWS IV’s

Art via @cmineses_designs

2017 was a great year for the Air Jordan IV, with retro colorways like the all-white Pure Money and white/blue/black Motorsport in the mix. By far the most sought-after IV’s were reimagined by artist Brian Donnelly, also known as KAWS. The ultra-limited grey and black suede models featured glow-in-the-dark soles and Donnelly’s famous caricatures embedded throughout the upper. The IV’s have always been a work of art, but adding the KAWS motif made them even more appealing.

3. Nike x NBA

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Nike x NBA jerseys on display at the NBA Store in New York City

For the first time since 2004, Nike took over uniform production in the NBA. Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s, Nike only outfitted a handful of teams, with companies like Puma and Champion divvying up the others. This time around, Nike got the whole League after adidas decided not to renew their contract with the NBA. Nike has made the most of it, with sleeker, more modern jerseys and a huge lifestyle ad campaign. They held a massive uniform release event in LA, followed by another one in NYC. There are Air Force 1’s with NBA and team logos. There are ads featuring models rocking jerseys over hoodies, turtlenecks, tee-shirts, tank tops, and under leather jackets. Wearing an NBA jersey out to other places besides a game has never felt more appropriate.

4. VaporMax

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Debut of the VaporMax at the Sneakeasy in New York City

It’s not every year that Nike guts their full-length Air Sole unit and comes up with an even more revolutionary concept, but that’s exactly what happened when they unveiled the VaporMax last spring. The main attraction for Air Max Day in March, Nike set up “Sneakeasy” pop-up shops around the world in major cities. The appeal of the VaporMax unit is that it features a standalone Air outsole unit. All other Nike Air units have to be insulated with a secondary rubber layer for protection, but the VaporMax has one holistic Air unit. The result is superior cushioning with even less weight. So far, the response has been positive, with more models to come in 2018.

5. Off-White 10

@nikestories with the Off-White Air Max 90

In a project that completely swept the sneaker community off their feet, Off-White’s Virgil Abloh deconstructed and rebuilt not just one, but ten Nike sneakers. Seven were classic silhouettes: the Chuck Taylor, the Blazer, the Air Force 1, the Air Jordan 1, the Air Max 90, the Air Max 97, and the Air Presto. Three released this year: the Hyperdunk Flyknit, the Zoom Vaporfly, and the VaporMax. Each model was meticulously put back together with oversized swooshes, exposed foam, black bars, orange tags, and of course, “QUOTES.” The Air Jordan 1 version was so jaw-dropping, it won the Footwear News Achievement Award for Sneaker of the Year.

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