Nike Air Max Classic BW – The Best Nike Air Max Silhouette Of All Time?

Check out the story behind the timeless Air Max BW silhouette, delving into what keeps fans coming back over and over again.

The Nike Air Max BW made a big entrance back in the early 90s, receiving the acclaim of sneaker lovers worldwide. This timeless silhouette has been re-released over the decades in many eye-popping styles and head-turning colourways. Needless to say, it has become a signature trademark in pop culture.

The Air Max BW silhouette was first released in 1991 as a sleeker version of the Air Max 1. What caught the eye of most sneakerheads was its large-sized midsole window which makes a major statement. At the time, it was the most stylish and innovative silhouette to have ever come from the Nike workshop. Fans worldwide were immediately thrilled by its beauty, not to mention that the Air Max BW was also one of the most comfortable Air Max that was ever made. What made it instantly stick even more was its wide variety of styles and rich array of OG colourway options. 

Since then, the Air Max BW has become a cultural streetwear icon, receiving a cult following from loyalists worldwide. The legend of this classic silhouette has been sustained across the years, so much that it’s been able to spark a cultural revival that resonated for years.

What makes this shoe indispensable to popular culture is its ability to strut the line between old and new school appeal. Its versatility in design, makes it perfect for any outfit regardless of the time of day.

History Of The Nike Air Max. 

The Nike Air Max shoe series was released in 1987 by Nike Inc. They made a major entrance into the sneaker market in the late 80s with the Air Max 1. Known for their transparent midsoles, made of urethane pouches containing pressurized gas. The midsoles revolutionised sneaker comfort. It’s a classic silhouette with contemporary structure that is designed by the creative designer Tinker Hatfield.

Tinker designed the innovative Air Max BW which was originally released in three colourways. First a Black, Persian Violet, and White design. Secondly, a Blue and Green tone blend. Then the women’s Black, White, and Persian Violet.

The ‘Big Window’ silhouette was released as a revival upgrade of the usual Air Max line. Designed with more padding, support, and cushioning throughout the shoe. Nike touted the shoes to its customers with the slogan Air Even More Max’Of the three initial colourways, the Persian violet was the most popular and consistent comebacks are regularly touted. Featuring comfort and style, the BW silhouette also features a ‘sharply angled’ top that’s made to indicate a faster speed and initiate a better performance.

Air Max BW
Image Source: Nike

The Air Max line is the OG favourite for sneakerheads. However, not many people know the origins of this classic Nike collection. The very first line of Nike Air Max’s was released in 1987. Yet the BW silhouette traces its roots back to a decade earlier, specifically in 1978. Frank Rudy, a N.A.S.A engineer came to Nike with the idea of adding air and comfort to shoes. This idea manifested in the Nike Tailwind as it became to be the first Nike shoe to have a visible Air unit. It wasn’t until 1987 that the Nike Air concept was brought to the forefront with the release of the Air Max 1.

Below is a timeline of the Nike Air Max series:

  • Air Max 1: Released in 1987 
  • Air Max Light: Released in 1989.
  • Air Max 90: Released in 1990
  • Air Max 180: Released in 1991
  • Air Max 93: Released in 1993 
  • Air Max 95: Released in 1995
  • Air Max 97: Released in 1997
  • Air Max Plus Tuned: Released in 1998
  • Air Max 350: Released in 2006
  • Air Max 2015: Released in 2015

The Air Max collection took an eight-year hiatus from 1998 before making a comeback with the Air Max 360. After another 11 years came the Air VaporMax which was released in 2017. The VaporMax was the first Air Max series not to feature rubber or foam in its midsole. Nike’s AirMax 270 was released the following year, closely tailed by the Air Max 720. Most recently Nike dropped the Air Max 2090 and the Air Max 2021.

Cultural Impact of The Nike Air Max BW

On release in 1991 the Nike Air Max BW spun a few heads with the two most popular colourways of all time: Paris Saint Germain and the Persian. But on a wider scale, the Nike Air Max BW didn’t fly off the shelves like other previous Air Max silhouettes.

History would suggest that Nike wasn’t that keen on sustaining the shoe as a mainstay, as we’ve never seen any lengthy reboot edition prior to that moment in time. At the 2005 Air History celebration fans anticipated a re-release, but were surprised to see the release of the Air Max 180. Which many loyal BW fans argue that it wasn’t a real addition to the Air Max collection. There was also little mention of the BW brand name in subsequent campaigns.

Despite never making it into a full mainstream, this silhouette made a massive statement in underground enclaves. It sparked a huge cult following in major parts of the UK and its biggest impact of all was on the Dutch underground Gabber scene.

The Dutch Gabber scene was one of the biggest punk sub-cultures to receive mainstream attention in the mid-90s. Running at an insane 190BPM, the Gabber scene hits hard. A rave scene built off the platform of acid house and techno. There were certain synonymous signature styles common within the brand new wave culture, including black bomber jackets, shaved heads, colourful tracksuits, and most importantly, the Nike Air Max BW kicks.

Air Max BW
Image Source: The Hundreds

How Did The BW Series Get Into The Gabber Mix?

Putting the music at the forefront of the culture, we’re talking about eight to ten hours of high-energy 190BPM raving all night. The idea of being light and comfortable was a priority back then. It still is and that’s why its remains to be classic shoe that transcends through time and space. Enter the comfiest creps to release at the time and boom, an icon is born. The Air Max BW  was a natural choice. It also fitted well with 90s trademark baggy tracksuits.

Soon enough the Gabber culture lit the streets with this new trend and it soon gained notoriety and massive appeal. The Gabber underground scene also incorporated other Air Max releases including the Air Max 90 and Air Max 95. However, the BW remained the all-time fave for the Gabber scene.

What’s interesting was how the cult frenzy brought so much fanfare to the BW series. There were a non-spoken agreement of the unique styles on how to wear them. For instance, the lacing technique was one of them. Gabber fans didn’t knot their laces, but instead chose to tuck them into the shoe.

Gabber culture didn’t happen without its fair share of public outrage, with clear connections with the 90s party scene, drugs, and anti-establishment vibes. The BW’s iconic impact nonetheless left an indelible footprint in contemporary street culture that has lasted for decades.

A second wave of gabber culture kicked on during the early 2000’s. Although by this time the Air Max BW had almost disappeared completely from sales. You couldn’t find them in stores and Air Max popularity had somehow diminished over time. It seemed as if they had their moment and it passed. In general, Nike was still a top brand, but the Air Max collection wouldn’t make it in the limelight again for quite some time.

Nike Air Max then made its come back sometime in the mid-00s, with a big thanks to the everlasting and strong Dutch sneaker culture. As for the BW series, it was nowhere to be seen. Its credibility to command the respect it once did 10 years prior had now diminished. You could only find a handful of them in hobbyist/cult stores that catered to old gabber loyalists who still respected the culture and wanted to pay tribute to it. 

In recent years, people’s style has proven how fashion revolves through time, with the promise of a BW comeback dropping in September 2021 (not long now!). The Sneaker Community UK and members of our Facebook page have been hyped for the last year, on the back of rumours that there will be a re-release that’s coming for the 30th birthday of the Air Max BW.

Where Can I Buy Nike Air Max Classic BW?

For many Nike Air Max Classic BW lovers, it was looking like we’d never get to see the OG Persian Violet and other favourite models re-release anytime soon. It is not exactly clear if this was a deliberate move on the part of Nike to put a hush on the BW model, but the silhouette has been kept under strict lock and key, since a previous minor re-release in 2015.

This is one of the reasons people rarely see the BW model in big sneaker stores. That hasn’t stopped online deadstock stores from holding stock of this classic piece.  You can get the Nike Air Max Classic BW at any of the following online retail deadstock resellers: KLEKT, Laced and StockX.

The great news is that the Air Max BW Persian Violet also has a scheduled SNKRS drop for the 24th of September 2021! That is available right HERE:

Nike Air Classic BW OG Persian Violet (2021)

RRP: £130

Style code: 559605-051

Where to Buy? 



Footlocker HERE

Nike Air Classic BW Paris Saint Germain

Last Sold for: £190

Style code: 317389-001

Where to Buy? 


Nike Air Classic BW Vachetta Tan

RRP: £130

Style code: 559605-051

Where to Buy? 


Nike Air Classic BW Rotterdam

RRP: £130

Style code: DJ9786-001

Where to Buy? 


Nike Air Classic BW Los Angeles

Style code: DM6444-001

Where to Buy? 



In conclusion, the Nike Air Max BW silhouette ranks as one of Nike’s classic releases. Though associated with some controversy, the shoe features a blend of style and comfort which are essential features of true streetwear kicks. They are also versatile and compatible. These iconic kicks represent several cultures and dress styles. In our opinion, they are one of the best silhouette designs of the Nike Air Max. If you’re a big fan of the Air Max BW silhouette, you may want to check out more details on release info right HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we’ve tried to answer some of the most popular questions associated with the Air Max BW silhouette.

When is the Air Max Classic BW re-releasing?

Nike plans to mark the 30th anniversary of the Air Max BW with a re-release of the Persian Violet September 24th at 8AM via the SNKRS app HERE. The “Persian violet” colourway is expected to have a limited release in a few select stores. Stay tuned to get wind of when this would happen as it is well in the works. Perhaps building on the raves of the initial Air Max BW silhouette, Nike released the Air Max 97 BWs in 2019. The new releases are just as comfortable and striking as their predecessors, with a dose of stealth. However, our sources suggest Nike has a rebirth plan for the OG Air Max BW colourways with more to come in 2021.

Does The Air Max Classic BW Fit True To Size?

The Air Max Classic BW fits true to size. It is a classic silhouette with a much sleeker and narrower design and isn’t ideal for people with wide feet. Due to the snug silhouettes running ancestry wide footers should go up half a size up to get more room and extra comfort. These shoes stay true to size and you’d have no expansion worries with them.

What Does The BW Stand For In The Air Max Classic?

The “BW” in the Air Max Classic stands for “Big Window,” which refers to the transparent Max Air unit located at the sole. Being the first shoes to feature a transparent airbag unit. There are several Nike Air Max editions that have carried different nicknames and abbreviations. This Big Window feature was entrenched in the midsole and the resultant silhouette was a lighter alternative to the Air Max 91.