ARTICLE BY Marianna Mukhametzyanova

Best Nike Women’s Colourways that Avoid the Clichés: Part 1

Grape Mukha

Ever been super keen to check out the latest women’s range from one of your favourite sportswear companies and been bombarded with hits of pink, glitter and/or flowers? Navigating around these well-worn clichés can be difficult. Not to mention trying to find a pair of sneakers that doesn’t have pink slashed somewhere or, much worse, is entirely pink.

Over the years, several brands have tried to target the growing female sneaker market by releasing ‘exclusive’ colourways and collections for women, only to unveil shoes that seem to be made for the stereotypical girly-girl. For the keen female sneakerheads among us, the trick has always been finding something not obnoxiously for the girls only.

Thankfully, Nike seem to have been catering for female tastes better than most (bar the Pastel Air Jordan 1 pack). To save you from trawling the web, we’ve collated a selection of sneakers that Nike have released for women over the years that weren’t dominated by pink and/or floral print. This list offers something for everyone, whether you’re trying to keep it minimalist or go all out. Heads up though, some of these might be hard to find.

Use Air Max 1 Aqua
Image via END.

Nike Air Max 1 OG Anniversary ‘Aqua’

The Air Max 1 is extremely significant to Nike’s history, which is why one belongs at the very top of our list. Although this ‘Aqua’ colourway is now available for both women and men, it was originally debuted as a women’s exclusive back in 1988.

For 30 or so years, the ‘Aqua’ could only be worn by the ladies (or men lucky to have size 8 feet and under). It was re-released last year for the silhouette’s 30th anniversary, alongside the Anniversary Red, the Royal, and the Obsidian. While it was special to see this colourway make it into the ‘30 Years of Air’ Anniversary Pack, sometimes we wish we could have just kept it for ourselves.

The vibrant hints of blue make this Air Max one of the most unique in the Anniversary pack. The design features a soft, white mesh upper with overlapping panels of suede in light grey and aqua blue. Hits of aqua also complement the Swoosh, the tongue, and a section of the underfoot – while bursts of purple accentuate the branding on the tongue, heel, insoles and lacelets.

This shoe can still be found on eBay and StockX, so get searching.

Use Air Max 97 Neon
Image via Titolo

Nike Air Max 97 ‘Neon’

2017 was the 20-year anniversary year of the Air Max 97, with over 30 new colourways releasing over the course of that year. Our personal favourite is the women’s ‘Neon’ 97, resembling the OG Air Max 95 and thus taking us back to very old school times.

What made this AM97 so special was the contrast of the bright neon with the stealthy gradient on the greys. Like the OG 95, the dark grey upper fades upwards into the light grey upper, complemented by black and silver 3M around the tongue and laces. Hits of neon, or ‘Volt’, are found on the Nike branding, the Air unit, and the stitched-in mini Nike swoosh. There’s even a slight pearlescent speckle to the midsole, but it’s only noticeable upon closer inspection.

The ‘Neon’ 97 is a must-have for women, especially since men are so distraught that they can’t have this pair in their rotation. Some have compared it to the OG ‘Japan’/‘Volt’ 97, but we know there’s a clear winner between the two. These can still be found online, both on eBay and Depop.

Use Nike Air Force 1 Low Northern Lights Wmns 03
Image via Nike

Nike Air Force 1 ‘Northern Lights’

Before ‘The Force Is Female’, Nike released an exclusive Women’s Air Force 1 Low to sit alongside the ‘Northern Lights’ 2016 NBA All-Star Game collection. It was released after the men’s edition of the AF-1, which came in a much darker colourway, donning a black leather upper as opposed to this white. We think the women’s colourway was much more of a looker.

The colourway reflects Aurora Borealis or, as the official name suggests, the beautiful Northern Lights. A mix of white, green glow, and blue cover the smooth white leather upper and 3M detailing touches on the tongue and heel. The star of the silhouette, however, is the large jewel Nike Swoosh logo – 3D, glossy, and in an eye-catching blue azure shade. Our favourite is the Northern Lights–inspired icy outsole, something that the men’s colourway wasn’t blessed with.

This AF-1 is another classic Nike silhouette that’s been given the female treatment. It’s much trickier to find this women’s exclusive today and, if you’re lucky enough to track one down, it won’t be cheap!

Use Pedro Laurenco Nike Air Max 90 Collection 1
Image via Sneaker News

Pedro Lourenço x NikeLab Air Max 90

For our next addition to the list, we’ve picked one that’s a bit different. In 2016, Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenço teamed up with NikeLab (again) to release two premium editions of the Air Max 90 – exclusively for women.

Having already worked with the brand on the Nike Air Rift, the Free, and the Blazer, decking out the silhouettes with premium and innovative features, Pedro’s take on these women’s AM90s was welcomed with open arms. Both pairs have very unique looks, one coming in a patent and matte leather ‘Obsidian’ colourway, the other in a lighter ‘String’ colourway, which included an off-white/light grey colour combo created with nubuck and rough canvas.

The two designs are polar opposites, resembling both day and night in the chosen colours, styles and materials. The lighter pair features a very subtle cream leather upper, and rough woven textures across the heel and tongue; the contrasting pair is elusively dark and glossy, rocking a very clean colour blocking. The patent leather also resembles a starry night.

These two pairs didn’t get the hype they deserved, but we think they’re the perfect addition for any girl who wants clean and minimal classics in their rotation. And who doesn’t love a NikeLab colab?

Grape Mukha
Image via Nike

Nike Air Max 95 ‘Grape’

To round off the first half of our list, we’ve picked another classic Nike silhouette that’s been blessed by Nike with a female exclusive colourway. Last year, while the Swoosh was rereleasing beloved Air Max 95 colourways, including the OG Neon, the brand also dropped a women’s ‘Grape’ iteration, which we think is an absolute banger.

Female fans of the AM95 went crazy when the ‘Grape’ colourway dropped in April last year, having previously dropped back in 2015 during the silhouette’s 20th anniversary celebration. The colourway combines white, grey, turquoise blue, and purple, with the purple being the dominant hue on this pair of kicks. It rocks the iconic 95 gradient, going from light to dark grey on the upper, while an icy white midsole offers contrast. The ‘Grape’ AM95 was celebrated by all the silhouette’s female fans.

That’s not bad for a start, but we’ve got more to come. So keep an eye out for Part 2 of our list of the best women’s colourways from Nike that avoid the pink and floral clichés!

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