Tag Archives: nike air python



A few months back I wrote some things about the Nike Air Python, oblivious to the fact a retro was on its way. The resurrection of this shoe seems to have split friends’ opinions — some can’t fathom why this shoe was brought back when there’s more significant shoes in the archive and others, like me, were pleased it made a return, just because they wanted a pair in the stash. I can understand the former opinion because some things are best left as aspiration — while the original intent was hardly one of pure performance (it seems more like an excuse to use some 1987 lasts and tooling), there’s an aura to the rarely seen and now a Google Image Search is going to spit out PR pics rather than a scattering of yellowed pairs. The spell is officially broken.

But you know what? This shoe still delivers — the swooshless oddness, the proto-Troop Cobra flamboyance, the way Nike added those tongue and heel labels as if the shoe was a big deal. As a Jordan II fan (a shoe that’s soon to get its aura bruised by reissues and hype), it’s a solid partner piece and (contrary to the myth of them having real python on them 26 years ago, which I fell for, it was always snake-effect leather) the retroed Air Python’s quality is good. Many’s the memory obliterated by a cheap looking resurrection, but the leather here is appropriately soft, rather than a plastic toy mockery of the original. Having only ever handled a pair under cellophane I can only presume that they felt like this (Edit: I am very reliably informed that the original Air Python was made from decidedly non-luxury leathers and far cheaper materials than the Air Python Lux seen here, which makes it a rare case of a reissue that’s better quality than the source material). Ignore the faintly Liberace steez that my amateur photography gives the snakeskin texture on the silvers (brown drops next month), because it’s undeniably flossy but not as sparkly in the flesh.

That bulbous toebox makes them fit roomy (at least half a size bigger than usual) and they’re surprisingly chunky, but it’s good to tick a box and get these in the teetering pile I’ve amassed since I decided to slow down on the footwear acquisitions. They make more sense releasing in the current climate than they did when they were swamped by 1987’s slew of more heavily publicised classics. Know what else ruins a rerelease? A generic packaging. That spot varnish scale pattern on the box for these is a nice touch. Shouts to Nike for these ones.





After the talk of Kukinis on Sunday and these 1987 oddities reappearing, I’m keen to level things a little by including the LeBron XI — I’m blatantly in mid-life crisis mode, but that swoosh and Hyperposite combo makes them the logical successor to the Alpha Project lunacy of 2000. This is exactly what a basketball shoe should look like in 2013.


On that Nike topic, this chat with Chris Bevans, creative director of Billionaire Boys Club on Salehe Bembury’s blog indicates that he’s one of those industry guys who seems to have had a hand in plenty of significant projects. A lot of talented people have passed through Rocawear over the years — while we’re in danger of assuming that Instagram represents the world at large’s tastes, Bevans and company seemed make far more of a splash on a grander scale. There’s a spot of insight here on the genesis of the Kanye West Nike Air 180 that occasionally surfaces during talk of rarity among nerds.


The new issue of Fantastic Man has a lot of content to recommend, but Jeremy Lewis’ exploration of the mystery of the ‘Dorito’ (that triangular panel) on the neck of sweatshirts, complete with an answer from vintage master Bob Melet. This is still the best men’s fashion magazine out there.


Seeing my friend Edson of the mighty Patta crew sold these Rockwell sweat pants to me. Edson has significantly more swagger than my disheveled, pallid self, but that print is at its greatest in this context. On sweats and rucksacks this design works, but here, it’s leisure wear done very right.




The Jordan II is the last bastion of mystery (other than the IE on the XI Lows which I believe stands for International Exclusive because we wouldn’t be able to take the patent toe looks of the original — but that could be bullshit) within the Air Jordan line. When a key selling point is your European place of manufacture, it’s clear that (bar that fairly recent dark leather Italian made variation that I can’t recall ever dropping) this has never been retroed with the original appeal intact. It’s unique selling point is absent and it’s a shame — an Italian-made Jordan II with the excellent box reproduced would be a thing of beauty and it’s one of the few editions that isn’t played out despite having a substantial hip-hop following (Skinny Boys, Heavy D and more wore it well) in its day. I always got the impression that MJ was never fully happy with a signature shoe until part III (though I always heard he threatened to bounce after Peter Moore left) and while there’s a name to a shoe each time before and after, I’ve never fully known if Peter Moore or Bruce Kilgore created the AJII (it’s generally assumed that they made it together — did Bruce take over the project? I know Moore exited Nike in 1987 and this patent from 1986 that cites a Gucci shoe somewhere has their names on it and is for the Italian-made Taiwan-made (thank you Simon Trenholm) Nike All England tennis shoe from 1986 that had the Wimbledon box).

What wasn’t made in Italy (it was made in Taiwan instead) was the mysterious Nike Air Python from early 1987, that’s occasionally spotted beneath shrink-wrap in Japanese deadstock spots (it seemed to be a big shoe with collectors there in the late 1990s) but carried the Jordan II’s animal texture concept and took it a little more literally. Just as the Safari was once an elusive creature, this shoe is a lesser-spotted one — was it actually made for performance? Part AJ II, part Air Force II with some high roller high-end cues (wasn’t that snakeskin real? Edit: it transpires that it was never, ever real), it’s just a strange, brilliant moment in Nike collector lore that’s the sum of two sequels. I wouldn’t be mad at a retro at all, seeing as the world seems to have caught up with this kind of weirdness. Plus, lest we forget, the Mad Foot Mad Monty snake design from 2004 was basically a Nike Air Python. I believe the collar detailing was changed for later Mad Monty designs (though it’s still pretty much the spitting image of a Python). Between the Python and PUMA’s The Beast shoe from 1988, there was definitely something in the water back then. The 1996 AF1s in python (in the brown and grey that both colourways of the Air Python dropped in), plus the early ’00s Python pack seemed to nod to the Air Python’s cult following. The Nike Air Python is a key Look ma, no swoosh! moment, but MJ’s model deserves the props for that. For ditching the newly recognisable branding that seemed like so much of a selling point, the Jordan II is a breakthrough moment in shoe design. The Sports Illustrated piece on the Nike Air Jordan II above is a decent snapshot of the expectations of that shoe back in 1986, including some tux talk that pre-dates the XI by nearly a decade and the Jordan Brand plan in its early stages.


Back in 2006, Bootcamp Magazine seemed to drop from nowhere, to pick up at spots like Stüssy and The Hideout alongside TET’s sadly defunct Philosophy ‘zine. Largely wordless to demolish a language barrier, the quality of some of the shoots, the black and white, plus the old style binding was all striking. It’s also completely free. I haven’t heard about Base Control and their basics and slouchy beanies in a while beyond some collaborations, but I’ve long associated it with Bootcamp because of the ads they carried and Bootcamp Magazine‘s creator, Motoki Mizuguchi of Shibuya’s mo’design agency being the creator of that brand’s logo. I never knew this publication was still running until I heard about the release events in Japan, but v.12 is good. I picked it up while in Nepenthes New York while ogling that Rebuilt by Needles recycled vintage military jacket that still haunts my daydreams occasionally.


It’s great to find out that Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock is an appreciator of the legendary Abel Ferrera flick Fear City, but anyone who cites Eric Red’s Cohen and Tate as a pivotal moment of 1989 would get extra points from me. If you don’t like Near Dark or The Hitcher (both written by Red), I feel bad for you. If you don’t like Blue Steel (written by Red and similar to Kurosawa’s Stray Dog — a film that has had two official remakes over the years) Body Parts (which Red directed) as much as I do, I can understand. Red even got the opportunity to rewrite ALIEN3 (alongside the rest of Hollywood at the time). Cohen and Tate is an ultraviolent fairy story that sits alongside later personal favorites of this ilk like Freeway and Running Scared, with a smart kid taken by mob hitmen (the calculated Cohen played by Roy Scheider and the unhinged Tate played by Adam Baldwin) and subsequently playing them off against each other. It was apparently based on the far more innocent and light-hearted short story by O. Henry, The Ransom of Red Chief and according to The Guardian last week (which also mentions the tragedy of Red’s March 2000 car crash — an incident which reads like a less stylised but equally ambiguous and vicious script from the man himself), Cohen and Tate seemed to inspire the Kane & Lynch video games and it definitely inspired John Wrathall’s script for The Liability with Tim Roth in a Cohen-informed role. After Red put out some incredibly brutal deleted scenes from the film a year or so ago, Cohen and Tate is getting the Blu-ray treatment in July via Shout! Factory with extras and the kind of premium packaging it deserves after years in the bad transfer, bootleg and VHS zone. This is a video shop classic.


Shouts to Doubleday & Cartwright for making their feelings on NYC’s recent sporting acquisition very clear in t-shirt form. I don’t know if this is ever going on sale, but it’s a great design that’s up there with No Mas‘ bestselling protest pieces.


Many of my favourite things got good in Japan. They might have been made with a western audience in mind, but in the far east — to quote Mr. Tim Dog — they stole our beat and made it better. An audience in America could only see yellowed soles and faded, utilitarian apparel, but in Harajuku they saw gold. This ad, from a local newspaper in the US dated April 1998, indicated that some enterprising individuals had spotted the dollar signs in the land of the rising sun. While the sight of a sumo wrestler in Jordan XIs is fun, it’s everything surrounding it that points at a drought of sporting rarities in Japan at the time, and it’s pretty much a who’s-who of the brands and products that lay the foundation for today’s sprawling hypetastic culture. While the Dunk would be reissued later that year, the ad claims it could sell (before it ever reached Japan) for $500 — far more than any of the other pieces cited. Forces, Flights and Pegasus are deemed worthless, with a definite bias towards 1980s running or basketball and Jordans.

Big ‘E’ Levi’s, Patagonia fleeces and Stüssy tees (“Tees with photos on the back are best”) are also part of the call to deadstock arms. Given the fact that pretty much every item incorporated has been retroed, re-retroed or re-re-retroed (even the once-mighty Convention made a slightly haggard-looking repeat visit) it’s easy to forget how much these things used to change hands for pre-millennium. Stiill, it’s refreshing to see that the Aloha Hawaii and 1987’s mysterious Air Python (for years I erroneously believed the Python to be made in Italy like the Jordan II, with which it shares similarities) have stayed away from the shelves, and have retained a certain mystique as a result. Without the mystique, these things are just lumpen blocks of leather (pleather?) or shrunken cotton. In the years that followed, this obsession would be exported back to a limited edition loving breed of westerner with a tad too much income and access to the internet. The rest is history, but I would have loved to have seen what turned up in the parking lot of Lewiston, Idaho’s K-Mart between April 2nd and April 4th, 1998. If those sellers had had access to Yahoo Auctions, it’s doubtful they would have skipped off so freely with a fistful of fifties.

Off topic, it was sad to hear of Jonas from L-R-G’s passing. His interview with Hypebeast earlier last month contained a few pearls: “All I’m saying is I think kids follow blogs like a religion. Go atheist for a bit.”

Truth spoken.