The Nike Air Max BW
The iconic Nike Air Max BW model (also known as the Nike Air Max Classic, or originally the Air Max IV) was not only a favourite of long-distance runners in the states, but of American R&B stars and Europe’s rave scene, and had a huge impact on street-style in the 90s that has recently been seen again in an explosive comeback.
Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the Nike Air Max BW was his fourth Air Max model after the Air Max 1, the Air Max Light (or Air Max 2), and the Air Max 90 (or Air Max 3). The Air Max BW took the same sole unit as the Air Max 90 but with a larger window in the heel. Combined with a sharp PU midsole and a leather and synthetic upper, the Air Max BW was given a sleek, stream-lined look. It also featured increased padding in the collar and overall support for runners.
The Air Max BW was originally released in 1991 in a black, white, and ‘Persian Violet’ colorway. Although it’s since been released in many further colorways, the ‘Persian Violet’ remains its signature look.
The model soon became a classic, and it was the ‘Gabber’ culture of The Netherlands in the 90s that played a major role in this. ‘Gabber’, meaning ‘friend/buddy’, was a culture that embraced everything to do with hardcore music, which is known for its hard and fast beats between 180-220 BPM (beats per minute). Their distinctive style merged British skinhead and old school hip-hop culture, including coloured tracksuits, bomber jackets, shaven heads, and the Air Max BW. The sporty silhouette enabled the Gabbers to party for hours through the night.
Although it dropped off the radar for some time, on March 8, 2016, the model’s 25th anniversary, Nike released the Nike Air Max BW OG in a ‘Persian Violet’ colorway with a nubuck upper, and the BW suddenly became a hot topic in the sneaker scene once more.
The Nike Air Max BW Ultra was introduced alongside the release of the Nike Air Max BW OG in March 2016, pairing a cored mid and outsole to a lightweight upper of two-tone mesh for reduced weight. ‘Midnight Navy’, ‘Enamel Green’, ‘Black’ and ‘University Red’ were the first colorways released on the modified silhouette.
In 2021 the ‘City Pack’ was released, featuring the bright green ‘Rotterdam’, sunny orange ‘Los Angeles’, smooth brown ‘Beijing’ and cool grey ‘Lyon’. In a nice nod to the Gabber culture that kicked off the model’s popularity, the ‘Rotterdam’ has ‘220 BPM’ printed on the tongue label.
The “BW” of Air Max BW stands for “Big Window” and refers to the large window on the heel through which you can see the Air unit.
Upon release, Nike Air Max BW retail around €140-150.
Generally, Nike Air Max BW fit true to size.