A Look Back: Back to school in the late ‘90s

A Look Back: Back to school in the late ‘90s

Back in the late ‘90s, back to school was everything. What a time it was. 20 years ago, I was a teenager who spent plenty of summer nights in August flipping through those Eastbay catalogs, thinking about all the shoes I wanted to show off in class. I was not old enough to work yet, so staring at all the sneaker options was both heaven and torture at the same time. I knew how good we had it. I knew how fire every shoe in those catalogs was — I  just couldn’t afford anything. Fortunately, as time has passed, the good people at Nike have brought back plenty of the sneakers I could only stare at as a kid.

I didn’t think much about it back then, but over the past few years, I’ve realized how many interesting variations Nike made on classic models that were made just for the youth. Here’s a look back at some of the best back to school” sneakers from the late ‘90s — made  just for the young athletes.

1996

Fresh off their incredible 72-10 championship season, the sneakers Chicago wore (and anything that resembled them) were the hot items going back to school that fall. Michael Jordan’s AJ XI had a low-cut version that was available for kids in both black and white. MJ sported the black/red model in the playoffs very briefly, but he never wore the white version in an NBA game.

Additionally, the sneaker Scottie Pippen sported throughout the ‘96 Finals, the Air More Uptempo, also featured a takedown version with a heel Air Sole unit. Gary Payton famously rocked the white Much Uptempo during the ‘96 Summer Olympic Games. Speaking of the Olympics, the Air Zoom Flight was worn by Orlando star Penny Hardaway that summer, and all the kids wanted to be like Penny back then.

1997

You may recognize the Air Jumpman Pro since they are back on shelves in 2019. The Jumpman Pro was a popular takedown version of the Air Jordan XII and was featured in some similar colorways to Jordan’s 12th model. There was also an Air Pippen model for Scottie, and the Total Max Uptempo was worn by stars like Reggie Miller. Both the Pippen and Uptempo featured the biggest visible Air Sole units Nike had ever made.

The Superturf, which was the children’s version of Barry Sanders’ Super Zoom model, was an extremely underrated sneaker in terms of design and style. It featured the new Zoom Air technology for a low-to-the-ground feel for sharper cuts and quicker acceleration on the field. And don’t forget about that Air Hawk Flight, which was made for the Sonics’ Gary “The Glove” Payton.

1998

1998 featured some of the most slept-on sneakers, including the Air Max 98 TL and the Air Pippen II. Neither of these sneakers got much love, which is too bad because they were great designs and ultra comfortable. In this particular picture, there are two Air Max running models shown: the Air Max 98 and Air Max 98 TL. The kids’ models featured different soles than the adults’ (letter “A” is the Air Max 98 with an Air Max 95 sole. Letter “B” is the 98 TL but with an Air Max 97 sole). It would be really cool to see both come back with these soles attached.

The Pippen sneaker was Scottie’s second signature model, and he won his last championship with the Bulls while rocking them. Over the years, they’ve been retroed but without much fanfare. The Air Sunder was a very popular training sneaker back in ‘98 but has fallen under the radar over the years. Anyone who owned a pair loved them and would love to see them return. They came in a ton of different colors and definitely had that wild, crazy late ‘90s vibe going for them.

1999

1999 was an insane year for back to school with two full pages to choose from. Some of the most notable sneakers included the Air Jordan XIV in five classic colors, along with the Air Jordan XIII Lo in the black/chutney colorway that has yet to retro. Also of note was the Nike Youth Air Max, otherwise known as the Air Tuned Max for adults. This model featured an Air Max 97 sole instead of the Tuned Air Max sole, and if Nike brought this exact model back, it would be a huge hit.

For Jordan Team fans, the Jumpman Quick 6 was available for the young guards, as well as the Jordan 3 Percent for the kids who liked to cross train. The 3 Percent was named after Michael Jordan’s body fat percentage, which was incredibly low. One last Jordan model was the Jumpman VINdicate made for power forwards like the Bucks’ Vin Baker.

Overall, Nike was making big statements in footwear fashion and technology, which is why so many kids chose to rock Nikes for back to school. And for those of us who couldn’t have everything back then, we’re slowly trying to cross off everything we wanted on our checklists as Nike and Jordan continue to retro more and more of these classics. It’s like we’re reliving our childhood all over again.

 

RELEASE REPORT: HIS AND HER JORDAN RETRO 11 SNEAKERS

RELEASE REPORT: HIS AND HER JORDAN RETRO 11 SNEAKERS

Each week, we’ll break down the most popular upcoming shoe drops. We’ll give you the lowdown on the prices and sizes, break down the history of the shoe, and give you the scoop on the newest tech features. Check back every week for the hottest shoe drops. If it’s hyped, it’s here. You can check out the full list of releases on Eastbay’s Release Calendar. Here’s what you have to look forward to this week:

JORDAN RETRO 11 LOW – MAY 27 AT 10 AM ET

We’re getting treated to two Jordan Retro 11 Low releases this weekend. For the men, the Retro 11 Low is outfitted in a black, white, and silver colorway. The Retro 11 Low ‘Barons’ is a nod toward the minor league baseball team MJ played for back in the day. The ladies also get a Retro 11 release this weekend with the Retro 11 Low ‘Blue Moon.’ Men’s $174.99, Boys’ $129.99, Girls’ $129.99.

NIKE AIR UPTEMPO COLLECTION – MAY 26 AT 10 AM ET

A trio of Nike Air Uptempo’s drop this weekend in a fresh all-white colorway that’s perfect for summertime stunting. The Nike Air More Uptempo, Nike Air Max Uptempo ’95, and Nike Air Max 2 Uptempo ’94 all drop on Friday with white-on-white colorways. We’ve seen a number of all-white shoes release recently, but if you’re a fan of the old school Uptempo look, then these releases are a summer must-have style. Nike Air More Uptempo $159.99, Nike Air Max Uptempo ’95 $149.99, Nike Air Max 2 Uptempo ’94 $139.99.

NIKE LEBRON 14 PRM ‘RED CARPET’ – MAY 27 AT 10 AM ET

Nike is rolling out the red carpet for one of the most popular LeBron colorways. First seen in 2009, the ‘Red Carpet’ colorway became a fan favorite when LeBron wore it at Madison Square Garden. The LeBron 14 will feature the black-and-blue colorway and be released this Saturday. Pick up your pair of this premium take on Saturday. Men’s $174.99.

JORDAN AJ XXXI LOW ‘MIDNIGHT NAVY’ – MAY 26 AT 10 AM ET

The AJ XXXI Low is releasing in a ‘Midnight Navy’ colorway this week, which is a subtle nod toward MJ’s college career. The AJ XXXI Low has proved to be a versatile shoe with top technology for on-court performance and a fresh look for off-court wear. This new colorway offers a classic tie-in to Jordan’s career, so snag a pair and hit a court near you. Men’s $159.99, Boys’ $119.99.

RELEASE REPORT: RETRO 4, RETRO 6, NEW NIKE COLLECTION

RELEASE REPORT: RETRO 4, RETRO 6, NEW NIKE COLLECTION

Each week, we’ll break down the most popular upcoming shoe drops. We’ll give you the lowdown on the prices and sizes, break down the history of the shoe, and give you the scoop on the newest tech features. Check back every week for the hottest shoe drops. If it’s hyped, it’s here. You can check out the full list of releases on Eastbay’s Release Calendar. Here’s what you have to look forward to this weekend:

JORDAN RETRO 4 ‘MOTORSPORT’ – MARCH 25 AT 10 AM ET

The wait for one of the hottest releases of the season is almost over. The Jordan Retro 4 ‘Motorsport’ will drop on Saturday. Inspired by Michael Jordan’s love of racing, this Retro 4 colorway was originally given only to members of MJ’s racing team. The Retro 4 is always a hot shoe, and this colorway is highly anticipated so don’t wait on these. Men’s $189.99, Grade School $139.99.

GIRLS’ JORDAN RETRO 6 ‘Pantone’ – MARCH 25 AT 10 AM ET

Once again, another Retro 6 is dropping as a women’s exclusive. The ‘Still Blue’ colorway features the classic North Carolina blue upper with a clean white outsole to complete the look. MJ won his first title in the Air Jordan 6, making it one of the most popular Jordans. The ‘Still Blue’ colorway will drop in grade school girls’ sizes only, but women can find a pair using our convenient sizing chart here. Grade School $139.99.

NIKE ‘TIME TO SHINE’ COLLECTION – MARCH 24 AT 10 AM ET

 

Nike is dropping the ‘Time to Shine’ collection just in time for college basketball’s biggest games! The LeBron 14, KD 9, and Kyrie 3 will all drop on Friday in new ‘Time to Shine’ colorways. Each shoe features an iridescent swoosh logo to tie into the ‘shining’ theme. LeBron 14 $174.99, KD 9 $149.99, Kyrie 3 $119.99.

ADIDAS HARDEN VOL. 1 – MARCH 25 AT 10 AM ET

The roll out of fresh new Harden Vol. 1 colorways continues this weekend. James Harden has been on a tear this year with 29 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds per game. His new signature sneaker has also been on fire, with plenty of hot new colorways. Let us know what you think of the new ‘Cargo’ colorway in the comments section below. Men’s $139.99.