Nike ACG Air Mowabb ‘Gravity Purple’: 1992 OG vs 2021 Retro
The return of the Nike ACG Air Mowabb ‘Gravity Purple’ has been almost 30 years in the making. This is the first time Nike have reissued the once obscure colourway since 1992, which is now back in the spotlight thanks to renewed interest in retro ACG styles – plus a brief on-foot appearance from Travis Scott. 2021’s Mowabb retros are considerably different to previous reissues, and this side-by-side highlights the specific amendments Nike have made.
Let’s get something out of the way first. The ‘Gravity Purple’ colourway was not used on the original Air Mowabb, but actually on the second-generation Mowabb in 1992, which was known as the Air Mowabb Plus. This model had some tweaks to the upper versus the 1991 version, which can sort of explain some of the inclusions in the 2021 Mowabb retro.
And there is another little detail to account for before getting into the new releases. The Olivia Kim x Nike Air Mowabb ‘No Cover’ from 2019 was effectively a reissue of the other OG Air Mowabb Plus colourway – perhaps foreshadowing the full-blown return of the model just two years later.
Another Colour Grading
Nubuck that is 30 years old will obviously look considerably different to what is, in essence, toddler-aged uppers, so the difference in ‘Gravity Purple’ can be explained by the effects of time. That being said, the 2021 release is rich and saturated in colour, and its ‘University Gold’ trim on the ankle and branding is warmly rendered.
Let’s See Logos
Plenty of ardent ACG fans spat out their granola when they saw a Nike Huarache logo and massive tongue pull tabs on the ankle sock of the ‘Rattan Birch’ 2021 retro. However, this instance of historical revisionism is much more forgivable on the ‘Gravity Purple’, as the Mowabb Plus did originally feature a Huarache logo on the tongue back in 1992. This was the year Tinker Hatfield’s innovative stretch-fit system gained its official black circular branding, identifying its usage in the Mowabb series, which was another of his creations.
The other branding deviation around this area is the inclusion of the triangular ACG text logo on the lateral side of the ankles, which is a carryover from the ’91 Mowabb. On the Plus, this detail was replaced with Air Mowabb spelled out instead.
A major sticking point for ACG OGs has been the addition of the mini Swoosh on the lateral toe box, which was introduced to the Mowabb with the aforementioned Olivia Kim colab. It does take some getting used to, but the general consensus for everyone that isn’t an ACG zealot seems to be indifferent acceptance towards the extra Swoosh. To be fair to the purists, it is a little at odds historically, as one of the OG Mowabb’s unique traits was its lack of Swoosh branding.
One of the biggest ergonomic changes to the 2021 Air Mowabb retro is its ankle collar, which appears noticeably less form-fitting than the near-wetsuit look of previous retros. Nike acknowledge verbatim that ‘this modern makeup has a stretchier collar’, also paired to the aforementioned pull tabs. These updates were presumably made to accommodate easier on and off – anecdotally, this hasn’t been a prevalent challenge in earlier years. Elsewhere, the new floating Huarache heel strap is pretty much identical to the original.
Midsole accuracy is usually a point of contention when talking about Air Max bubbles, but the Mowabb doesn’t really have much to report in terms of its form factor. According to Nike, the foam compound they’ve used here is softer than previous editions, which should hopefully mean comfort. However, the semi-gloss finish of the midsole and crisp speckle does look a little anachronistic on the 2021 edition. That said, a good day’s hike should resolve that.
Keep an eye out at Up There for more upcoming sneaker releases!