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The Nike Air Max BW Collector: Beedubs AKA Prince of Persians

Nike Air Max BW Persian Violet 2005

The Air Max BW was released in 1991 as part of the Nike International series. The shoe’s ‘BW’ suffix refers to the heel’s striking ‘Big Window’ bubble. Although the BW – also known as the Air Max Classic – has released in a barrage of colours over the years, the OG ‘Persian Violet’ edition remains its signature scheme. Born in the shadow of the Air 180 and the Air Max 90, the BW did well to cement its place in the history books. The shoe inspired a loyal following that is unique within the Air Max pantheon, and there is no greater Persian fiend than Sneaker Freaker forum member Beedubs.

1991 was a good year. Michael won his first ring, the Terminator learned some new slang, I celebrated my first birthday and a shoe was released that would shape my future. My first memory of the Air Max BW arrived 13 years later, thanks to my brother – aka ‘One of Perth’s most notorious graffiti artists’, according to The West Australian newspaper – who brought a pair home from a local sports store. I’ll never forget that shoe and the way he beat them into the ground.

I followed in his GFL (Graffiti For Life) footsteps. Air Max were a crucial part of the uniform, and that’s where my love affair began. I started to collect all different types of shoes, but I was hooked when I discovered the Persian BW. I got my first pair in 2006, and from there, it was on. Polo kits came and went, but the Persians stayed.

As my passion grew and my knowledge increased, I decided I’d own all the different versions someday. Before you could spell hoarder backwards I was 10 pairs deep!

Currently, I own two deadstock Persians from 1991 with all the trimmings and both in my size. To me these are works of art and I treat them as such. One day I hope to display them like the masterpieces they are in my very own sneaker store. They’re the complete package. The OG Nike box with the orange lid and grey stripes has to be the greatest of all time, and the Nike International Collection brochure is the icing on the cake; a luxury, I might add, that is no longer afforded to collectors of contemporary releases.

The second release is the purple whale of the Persian family. Released in 2000 as a UK exclusive, this retro stays true to the OG with its black tongue lining. The late-90s black and red Nike box is another nice touch. Although the bubble isn’t as big as that of its predecessor, the shoe’s elusive nature and faithful reproduction quality makes it the best retro of the five created so far.

The third arrived in 2003 and is pretty much identical to the pair from 2000 (bar the black tongue lining). This retro, however, saw the return of the Big Window and a slightly improved shape. While it’s not on quite the same level as the OG, it is an improvement on 2000’s pair. This release can be obtained easily if you look hard enough. It’s my favourite retro, which is why I’ve got four pairs.

The fourth release from 2005 is the James Hird of the Persian family. While the shape and tongue aren’t as strong as the 2003 edition, the midsole paint’s ability to not crack under pressure gives them a quality not found in any other pair. I ended up giving both of mine away, as they weren’t the right size (anyone with a US11.5 hit me up!). One pair went to a mate for his birthday and the other went to my brother (who again beat them into the ground, proving people can show love and respect in very different ways).

The fifth release from 2008 is what I call the fugly sister of the family (the one that only looks hot when the good-looking sister moves away). The shape is nice but the tongue and bubble leave a little to be desired. For this reason, my pair will stay in the box until I’ve exhausted all other options.

As for the 2013 release, hmmm, what can I say? I tried a pair on for a laugh, and honestly, I thought I’d stepped into the Midland Brick factory. Sad to say, but my BW obsession ends after 2008. It was around that time that they were infected with the dreaded square-toe disease caught, presumably, from a close relative in the Air Max family.

This interview was originally published in Sneaker Freaker Issue 28 and republished in The Ultimate Sneaker Book.

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