Under the Radar: 2018 Nike Releases Worth Checking Out
A little over a year ago, you could be forgiven for thinking the collaborative and limited-run sneaker game was dying. Adidas had oversaturated the game with boost silhouettes, Nike seemed to be floundering, and other brands followed suit with underwhelming follow-ups to 2015 and 2016, both stellar years for collaborative releases and runner silhouettes.
2018 however, is a new year. Nike has been on an unflappable wave. Having capitalized on the Off-White craze, Nike has released multiple iterations of the OW Air Jordan 1 and Presto. Other Nike wins include the Sean Wotherspoon, Atmos Animal Pack release, Parra Collaboration, and a whole host of Air Jordan collaborative releases like the Travis Scott 4’s, Justin Timberlake 3’s, and Nigel Sylvester’s 1. Nike’s also killed the general releases for 2018. The React Element 87 and Epic React Flyknit were essentially unattainable upon their initial releases.
However, this string of killer releases has left most sneaker enthusiasts wanting; not wanting for more or better releases, but for better access to the limited ones that Nike has released. While newsfeeds have been cluttered with OW Prestos and Parra Air Max 1’s, the majority of sneakerheads have been left out in the cold. Nike has taken sneaker hype to a new level, seemingly splitting the market into two factions; sneaker enthusiasts with the clout, money, and ego to be worthy of their limited releases, and everybody else. Nike has always been synonymous with success and superiority, but their recent string of releases has helped increase the gap between the haves and have-nots in sneaker collecting. But what releases exist for the have-nots among us?
For those who haven’t been lucky enough to catch one of Nike’s most hyped releases you’re in luck, there are a few Nike gems that have escaped the eye of most mainstream collectors.
Errolson Hugh has been the Nike whisperer for the better part of a decade. A slew of sneaker collaborations and countless apparel creations have helped Hugh become one of Nike’s go-to designers. Despite the buzz of his impending Acronym Presto follow-up, Errolson dropped three Vapormax Mocs earlier this year. Each of the Vapormaxes dropped in a sharp monochromatic colorway accompanied by a flurry of arrowhead icons, a signature of Hugh’s design aesthetic. The Acronym Vapormaxes dropped almost simultaneously with the release of the white and black Off-White Vapormaxes. This somewhat overshadowed the release of the Acronym Vapormaxes and kept resale prices low. Relatively un-hyped, all three of the Vapormaxes sit on sites like StockX for less than retail. They remain a worthwhile addition to any rotation.
2018 has also seen a resurgence of the Air Max 180’s. The top of the heap for the Air Max 180 in 2018 was the trio from Commes Des Garcons. However, the CDG 180’s, in their resplendent bright pink and magenta colorways, somehow never caught the mainstream sneaker buzz. Releasing during the height of Air Max month, their popularity paled in comparison to the Atmos releases. All three of the colorways can be found on StockX as well for around retail. Sneaker aficionados like Joe La Puma and Emily Oberg have been spotted rocking these underrated gems. The Commes Des Garcon Air Max 180’s signify another set of overlooked, yet vastly necessary sneakers for any quality rotation that includes 2018 releases.
Speaking of 180’s, Nike has offered multiple iterations and variations of the once defunct sneaker model to the public. Each one offers a glimpse into Nike Air’s storied past, yet there are also contemporary colorways for the revived 180. The Ralph Steadman 180, with its hairy suede upper, is a can’t miss for its unique styling. Colorways like the Ultramarine and Bright Ceramic offer retro goodness with their nylon toeboxes and neon-on-white colorways, even Ronnie Fieg couldn’t ignore. Newer colorways the Night Ops, and Fire & Ice pack bring modern feels to the retro model. A sneaker collector will rarely feel out of place when donning one of these 180 offerings, and the good news is all can be had for under retail from online outlets like Lapstone & Hammer.
Similarly, Nike has been dropping serious waves of other Air Max iterations. While not every Air Max 1, 95, or 97 is worth adding to your closet, numerous variations have been impressive enough to pick up.
Air Max 1 silhouettes like the Curry pack, consisting of brown, yellow, and red duplications inspired by the culinary seasoning, attracted many enthusiasts when they were first revealed. However, this pack failed to “curry” favor (oh you knew that pun was coming) with hype seekers as they were ultimately exposed as a General Release. Other colorways of the Air Max 1 such as the Centre Pompidou, Tartan Black, and Just Do It packs show the same level of quality, creativity, and eye-catching panache as the highly coveted Parra Air Max 1 that left so many Air Max fans empty-handed on or after release day.
The Air Max 97 has gone largely ignored since the wave of premium versions, as well as the Undefeated, CR7, and Off-White collaborations of 2017. But if you’ve ignored the great GR colorways of this sleek Air Max silhouette, you’ve done yourself a severe disservice. Colorways like the Pittsburgh Steelers, White Pure Platinum, South Beach, Persian Violet, Pull Tab Obsidian, and Miami Dolphins sit at or well below retail. 2018 premium models of the 97 like the Smokey Mauve and Desert Sky dare to redefine the color palette of the Air Max 97 with subtle hues of pastel and earth tones. While not littered in every other post on Instagram, these colorways show Nike has no plans on slowing down their onslaught of desirable and thoughtful AM97 designs.
If you’ve been paying attention, you saw how quickly the classic Air Max 95 Volt came and went. Despite the quick blip this release may have looked to the casual collector, a number of Air Max 95 silhouettes have been quietly releasing throughout 2018. Old school classic colorways like the Neutral Olive Total and the Solar Red have been joined by Nike’s new hot takes like the ERDL Party White/Black, Galaxy Splatter, and Wolf Grey Persians. The Swoosh brand has shown that it can listen to its Air Max fanatics and even enlisted a few outside designers and charity organizations like Kristen (kb1ack23) and Cultivator (wearecultivator) to add flair and street-inspired flamboyance to the Air Max 95 for a charitable cause. If you’ve been waiting for a chance to pick up an Air Max 95 that helps set you apart from the crowd, now is the time.
Nike has other “fire” models recently reintroduced such as the Skylon and the M2K Tekno that should garner consideration for those not in need of an Air Max unit. Timeless necessities like the Killshot 2 from J. Crew in its unmistakable Sail, Midnight, and gum bottom which seem to float out every six months or so, are a must-have for those casual-Friday/meet-the-parents fits. Surprisingly even several Supreme x Nike footwear collaborations like the Zoom Streak Spectrum Plus and SB Gato are openly available at reasonable price points on StockX. SB fans can happily snag a pair of the Dunk High Premier “Win Some” with its scratch off swoosh.
To be honest, it might be harder to not find a Nike that’s worthwhile at or below the $150-200 mark. If you’re home fretting over missing a pair of Nike shoes that has a hashtag with 10,000 results, you’re doing yourself no favors by pouting or whining about the futility of SNKRS or Nike.com. Instead of dumping three or four times retail on a shoe you’ll see in hoards on-foot at your local sneaker store or on social media, browse the “shelves” of your favorite retailer for the unsold hype, who knows, you might like being the outlier in an increasingly unimaginative and crowded sea of hypebeasts.
Written by: David Blackmon