Originally releasing in 1997, the Nike Air Max 97 came back with full force this year, utilizing the 20th Anniversary designation as a platform to drive energy through the roof for the first-ever full-length Max Air unit. Several re-issues of originals, a modernized “Ultra” style, and collaborations galore with UNDFTD, Virgil Abloh, and Riccardo Tisci made the 97 one of the must-have silhouettes of 2017.
Celebrating the 15 Years of SB Dunk, Nike continued its “flipped” Retro releases by focusing more on the early-season Dunks of the past. Shoes colored up by pros Reese Forbes, Richard Mulder, and Danny Supa came back as High-tops, while MEDICOM TOY’s black denim iteration was revived with the Elite form.
It was about time Nike brought back the original LeBron signature models. It all kicked off in January with the first-ever retro of the “First Game” colorway during a game against Sacramento (LeBron’s first opponent as a pro). What followed was a special “Five Decades” iteration in Vachetta Tan and two other re-releases of colorways from 2003-2004.
Regarded as one of the best drops of the year upon its release in 2011, the Concepts x New Balance 999 “Kennedy” returned alongside an alternate red heel edition bearing a new “Hyannis” moniker. Both versions dropped first at Complex Con, followed by an extremely limited drop at Concepts not long after.
Undoubtedly the best adidas NMD release ever, the original colorway in its black upper and bold red/black midsole units returned in January 2017. While this was a shrewd move by adidas Originals, it also started the global decline in interest of the NMD silhouette.
While the demand for most Reebok models from the 1980s is relatively low, this one-time re-release flew off the shelves thanks to an amazing collaboration with BAIT and the phenomenal Stranger Things franchise. The shoe itself was part of the show’s 80s wardrobe, while the Ghostbusters-themed illustrations were taken straight from Dustin’s school notebook.
The all-white Air Force 1 didn’t really need a re-introduction, but Nike took it upon itself to reinterpret the iconic shoe in five different ways. Virgil Abloh, Don C, Errolson Hugh, Travis Scott, and Kareem “Biggz” Burke were tasked with implementing their own unique spins on the shoe; these five iterations totaled into what was one of the biggest sneaker release events of the year.
After being voted in by the public during the Air Max Day “Vote In” event in 2016, Nike brought back Japanese retailer atmos’ famed “Elephant” design for a 2017 release. A little trick up its sleeve in the form of the Jordan atmos Pack, which saw the Air Max 1 with a Jumpman on the underbed, added to the celebration.
Regarded as one of the most significant and game-changing shoe releases in history, Jeff Staple’s “Pigeon” Dunks flew again in with a brand new colorway. The famed concrete grey color palette was left alone to live on infamy while the signature sequoia red was used against an all-black upper. SB Dunks don’t cause a frenzy like they once did, but this release was the lone exception as it caused quite the mayhem and subsequent campout at the Extra Butter pop-up.
1. Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard 2.0
Nike and Tom Sachs took a trip to Mars in 2011 as the brand and contemporary artist created a full capsule of footwear and apparel from scratch fit for walking on the red planet. In 2017, Nike brought back the famed Mars Yard shoe with different materials, but the experiential activation known as “Space Camp” is what separated this “comeback” from the rest of the pack.
Honorable mentions: adidas Twinstrike