Phil Knight commissions his swoosh-stripe Mount Rushmore somewhere in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, the Air Max 95 will be one of the shoes that will be carved into the Precambrian granite outcropping. The Air Max 95 isn't the best Nike runner ever made, it's arguably (sorry Air Jordan junkies) the best Nike shoe ever made, an object burrowed deeply into the popular culture. Collectors flocked to it, kickstarting what would become a $75 billion global Nike Air Max 97 Womens industry fueled by hype beasts, sneakerheads, and enough aspirational consumers to fill the Mariana Trench several times over. Since it's 1995 debut, the Air Max 95 has remained a perennial bestseller. Nike churns out several new versions every year. The number of colorways is staggering: over 150 and counting. Such ubiquity has done nothing to diminish the shoe's cachet. It continues to be been worn by artists, actors, pop stars, criminals and, Adidas ZX Flux Dámské yes, even actual athletes.
Nagomo Oji knew he was stepping into history when he laced up a pair of Air Max 95s last month in Saitama City, Japan, a commuter sprawl 10 miles north of central Tokyo. What made Oji's shoes so special was their pedigree. Anybody can walk into Foot Locker and buy a pair of Air Maxes for 160 bucks. Oji's shoes were something quite different. To use the sneakerhead Adidas ZX Flux Damen vernacular, they were "DS" (dead stock), a discontinued model that's new, unworn, and unboxed. Even better, they were "OG. Not "original gangster," just "original." In other words, these vintage kicks were highly collectable, a pristine example of the very first Air Maxes that dropped two decades ago.
But something insidious has been happening to those shoes, and every other pair like them, over the years. They've been crumbling away to nothing as they sit tucked in boxes or hidden in closets. The materials used to make them degrade over time, causing the shoes to fall apart, rendering them worthless.
Much had happened since Oji purchased these Nike runners. He no longer defined himself by the shoes he wore. Vanity had been undermined by adulthood and responsibilities. He was a grown man now, a father of 2-year-old twins. As he appraised his newly shod feet, a smile creased his lips. It might not be possible to relive the past, he thought. But this was the closest thing to it.
As soon as he planted his feet, Oji sensed something was terribly wrong. The midsoles flattened, and his footing became strangely unstable. He didn't realize it at the time, but the polyurethane (PU), that squishy, shock-absorbing material sandwiched between the upper and the outer sole, was Nike Air Max 95 Womens more than ten years past its projected lifespan.
After just one step, the hardened PU foam fractured and collapsed, like arid soil crumbling beneath the boots of a Dust Bowl Okie. Oji looked down in disbelief. With the inner soles completely detached from the uppers, his feet were actually touching the ground. His beloved Air Maxes had just morphed into Fred Flintstone shoes.