Today’s drop, AM1 Safari Retro.

TODAY we saw one of, if not arguably the most sought after Air Max 1 collaborative colour way get the retro treatment, as Nike look to become as relevant as they were prior to the Boost hype. Back in ’03, Japanese brand ‘Atmos’ were approached by Nike, this led to a cohesion of the Nike Air Max 1 silhouette and the infamous Air Safari speckled upper that had become all too familiar to Sneakerheads of the time; the relevance of this pairing was due to the fact that 16 years prior they had debuted side-by-side as Nike’s ‘air’ campaign started to gain traction. The front mudguard sported a miniature swoosh, this feature had been inspired by non-collaborative pairs from the early 2000’s, and was then carried on by Dutch brand Patta whom used it on a number of collaborative Nike projects; all of which are coincidently note worthy landmarks for the sportswear brand.

As far as quality goes, the soft suede (refusing to use the comparison of ‘butter’) on the original 2003 release combined brilliantly with the canvas toe box; the rugged and hard wearing feel completely counter-acting the delicate stereotype that often comes with suede sneakers. Another swoosh sat on the brown suede of the heel; opposed to the toe this was an olive colour and much larger due to the fact that ‘Nike Air’, normally found below the iconic trademark, was removed. On either side, Atmos decided to use mismatching ticks to give a far more individual feel. This resulted in a dark green instep similar to that on the heel, and a mustard yellow on the outstep. All of these details, grouped upon a classic gum outsole and cream/grey midsole secured Atmos’ place in Sneaker history, not to mention their incredibly hyped later release. The Elephant print Air Max 1 colour way will possibly receive the same treatment as the topic pair here, if 2011 sample leaks are anything to work by.

Although this is a re-issued colour way as mentioned above, I do not feel it fair to compare the two in as much depth as other articles I have seen online. After all, Nike no longer use the same moulds, materials are becoming steadily worse, and not to mention the condition that some sneakers arrive in due to abysmal quality control; in no way is it a fair comparison. However, for the sake of an in-hand review here are the differences that I personally have noticed. First of all, I think it’s no secret to inform you that, yes, the toe box is covered in long-haired suede. In some cases, this suede differentiates in shade and length on either foot, whereas other pairs actually came with much shorter-haired symmetrical toe boxes. This irregularity is a great representation of Nike’s current popularity situ when compared to the likes of Asics, NB and in particular Adidas, who’s Kanye West endorsement has sent popularity through the roof. Another noticeable difference is the icy blue outsole. As a huge fan of gum soles, this initially didn’t bide well and in my eyes completely ruined the aesthetic of the sneaker; once I had them in hand however it was completely different. For those that don’t know, the outsole glows in the dark…this party trick almost makes up for the removal of the gum bottom…almost. Finally, the sock liner has been changed from a plush yet sturdy material, to what can only be described as a thin fleece. I feel that this feature along with the long-haired suede will wear overtime, introducing a much more original image to the retro.

Aside from the onslaught of criticism seen on social media, for which I place sole blame on Nike’s product photography and promotion, this really isn’t a bad release. There’s no reason to nit pick the shape on anything post 2009, because the fact of the matter is Nike will never go back to anything like the pointed silhouettes of which we once knew. As far as some recent releases go I see the shape here is much improved; less of a ‘banana’ situation due a firmer toe structure. You can see my point within the photo I have taken below.


Personally, to me these don’t leave much to be desired. As I ventured through Cambridge Backs, I found myself becoming more and more fond of each feature that had been incorporated to make this a whole new shoe! There really is nothing to dislike about the strong safari, as with the Air Jordan cement print. From the viewpoint of an Asics enthusiast with a distinct lack of AM in my collection, I like these a lot. I cannot account for every single pair, but the quality here was perfect- no glue, scuffs, or even faulty stitching.

There will be people out there that disagree, but in my eyes this is one of the best releases Nike have had in a very long time. Without the OG heritage, if the Atmos collab didn’t exist, I guarantee a lot of you reading would happily buy a pair; I appreciate that the demand wouldn’t be as high but this colour way would be a sell-out. So, looking onto the next step, which hyped release will Nike bring back out next? Will it be the Atmos Elephants? Based on the leaked samples, I hope not.

Written by Tommy Corlito,

Photos by @tommycorlito


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