A Brief History of Skepta’s Sneaker Collaborations
A godfather of the UK grime scene, Skepta is still hailed as one of North London’s greatest musical exports.
Fundamental in grime’s shift from pirate radio to the mainstream, Skepta is still busy dropping new tracks in 2021 (he recently partnered with JAE5 for ‘Dimension’). Born to Nigerian parents, Skepta’s love of travel has not only inspired his prodigious music career, but also his coveted collaborations with Team Swoosh. From Morocco to Paris, New York City to London, Skepta continues to imbue his sneakers with heart-felt storytelling and symbolism.
With Skepta’s Air Max Tailwind 5 scheduled to arrive on April 3, we’ve taken a look back at Skeppy’s impressive sneaker career so far!
Nike Air Max 97 Sk (2017)
Inspired by Skepta’s travels throughout Morocco and 1999’s Nike Air Tuned Max, the Air Max 97 landed in September 2017.
‘When designing the Air Max 97 Sk, we took the color palette of Morocco into consideration, but also the palette of the 1999 Air Tuned Max.’ Skepta told Nike. ‘That was the first shoe I ever saved up money to buy, so I wanted to bring its magic to the 97 – the magic that made me first love Air Max when I saw it as a child.’
Combining the legendary DNA of the Air Tuned Max with Morocco’s unique colour palette hit a home run for Skepta, the collaboration arguably one of the best in his fledgling catalogue.
Nike Air Max 97/BW (2018)
Skepta’s third collaboration with Nike, the Air Max 97/BW was the very first time the Air Max BW uppers had been combined with an Air Max 97 Air unit.
A tri-coloured ode to Skepta’s love of Paris, the Air Max 97/BW is built in pristine ‘Summit White’, ‘Hyper Cobalt’, and white. Paris was the first place Skepta truly broke-out after the UK, and the collaboration was officially announced by Nike Paris back in 2018.
‘When I was younger, the Nike Air bubble was the flex’, says Skepta. ‘The bigger your air bubble was, the more people knew you were stepping well.’
Skepta also cites Dizzee Rascal as a central inspiration behind the collaboration, as Dizzee is seen with a pair of BWs on his first album cover, Boy in da Corner.
Nike Air Max Deluxe (2018)
Inspired by his breakout single ‘That’s Not Me’ and his relationship to New York City, Skepta’s Air Max Deluxe hit shelves in 2018.
The VHS static emblematic of his music clip informs the uppers, while the single’s release date (June 8, 2014) is printed on the sneaker’s lateral side.
First teased by Skepta on his Instagram Stories, the ‘NEVER SLEEPS ON TOUR’ emblazoned on the medial side references the UK MC’s long nights spent on the road.
Reinventing the Air Max Deluxe, Skepta remixes a silhouette that originally appeared during grime’s nascent years in the late 1990s.
Nike Shox TL (2019)
First laced in the ‘Bullet From a Gun’ music video, Skepta’s Nike Shox TL hit shelves in September 2019. Driven by his experience of receiving a chieftainship in the state of Ogun, Nigeria, Skepta expressed a desire to make others believe they can also feel like royalty.
Embodying the idea of the manifestation of dreams, the Shox was the fourth heavyweight collaboration between Skepta and Nike. Manufactured with black synthetic textile and full TPU cage, the reflective Swooshes add iridescent styling to the mechanised silhouette. Bringing a moulded heel for stability and signature blast of red on the modified Waffle rubber outsole, Skepta’s Shox is still one of his most sought-after sneakers on the market.
Air Max Tailwind 5 ‘Bright Blue’ (2021)
Debuting around the same time as Skepta’s burgeoning grime career, the Nike Tailwind 5 first launched in 2000.
This time, Skepta is utilising the idea of metamorphosis for the Tailwind, the uppers dressed in a beautiful blue, phosphorescence pattern reminiscent of butterfly wings.
Also paying homage to his previous collaborations with Nike and his music career, the Tailwind features chrome Swooshes (a nod to Skepta’s Shox) and a thermographic heel counter – a reference to the Ignorance Is Bliss album art.
The Skepta x Nike Air Max Tailwind 5 ‘Bright Blue’ lands on April 3. Be sure to check out our Where to Buy guide!
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