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Nike Air Max 98: A Complete Guide

12 January 2022


Liam Perry

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Air Max 98 Complete Guide

Have you ever heard of a brand being a victim of its own success? Well, that’s exactly what happened with Nike in 1998!

The running trainers followed up after the mammoth success of Air Max 97. That itself was a big deal. Certainly, not all Nike members have received the same amount of love. The Nike Air Max 1 and Air Max 95 were an instant hit, but Nike saw a massive meltdown with the incompetence of Air Max 96. However, the emergence of Air Max 97 brought back all the burning fame in the Nike lore. Then came the Air Max 98, and everything about them was different. The designer wasn’t the same, the aesthetics were not the same, collaborations were not the same, and the initial demand was definitely not the same. To put it bluntly, heated opinions were lingering around the runners. Much was spoken about the runners lacking innovation and creativity.

So, the sneakers were not a commercial success and were sitting on the shelves for various reasons. But what added fuel to the fire was the initial release price, which drastically shot up Nike’s top price list. The runners retailed at $150 despite lacking the aesthetics of AM 95 and AM 97. This didn’t go down too well with Nike fans, and they chose to indulge in different colourways of the previous predecessors.

The sneaker series has already celebrated its 20th anniversary because soon the tables turned for them. What’s the story? Let’s find out!

How did Nike Air Max 98 climb the success ladder?

Let’s go back to the legendary Air Max 95. Remember the mastermind behind it? Yes, Nike brought in the same man again – Sergio Lozano.

Sergio Lozano the designer of Air Max 98

Lozano decided to build Air Max 98 based on AM 95’s strengths and also work on the shortcomings. Well, he did think that would be a killer combination and would make way to an iconic silhouette. But before we get there, let me take you a little ahead in time. Prior to joining Nike, Lozano studied industrial design and Cal State and eventually graduated to the lauded ACG program. He drew major inspiration from there to craft the sneakers and make them iconic. The Nike designer tried to make a difference in every aspect with the convoluted lacing mechanism, chunky aesthetics, outdoor-inspired colourways, AIR cushion position, and branding.

Air Max 98 debut


In Feb 1998, Air Max 98 debuted with its men and women version retailing at $149.99. The men genre included cement/maize/obsidian, and the women genre incorporated ultramarine/maize and white. That was not it. Lozano also released colourways for kids in grey/citron/obsidian but with a modified air sole. Gradually there were many more released in all three segments.

Air Max 98 debut 2


A drastic shift in aesthetics from AM 95 and 97, over branding (Swooshes, Air Max and AIR) all around, overtly priced and bulky build-up led to the Air Max 98 underperforming. Europe and the US saw a major decline in demand. Just at the beginning of the downfall, the debut runners went on sale, which made the sneakers less desirable. Nike needed a strategy to sustain the AM 98 brand and therefore came up with a smart move to release a new variant, popularly known as the Air Max 98 TL. Lozano sprucely understood what people wanted and quickly made modish changes like an updated full-length visible air sole and a sculpted phylon midsole. And hell yeah, that did make a substantial difference.

Air Max 98 debut 3©EASTBAY

2016 was a twist in the tale. The Supreme Swoosh collaboration knotted the Air Max 98. The cult skateboard brand wooed people and had them drooling over the hoes. It was kind of a return for AM 98 in the sneaker market featuring cream, red, navy and black colourways shielded with snakeskin on the sidewalls and patent leather on the upper. This execution had the sneakerholics barming over them. Soon after the release, the runners were sold like hotcakes. It was an eye-opener for AM 98 to know how to please people.

Air Max 98 Supreme Collaboration

Image Credits: sneakernews.com

Needless to say, the stunning Supreme collab emerged like a rose in their grave and Air Max 98 shaped beautifully thereafter.

The unspoken facts about the Nike Air Max 98

The AM 98 sneakers were ablaze with mixed opinions, controversies, despise, uncertainty, and more. 98 saw a furry in its paradise and garnered a mixed bag. Let me bring forward some unspoken facts you may not have known about. It was quite a battle for the runner!

  • The man behind the success of Air Max 95 created the AM 98 as well.
  • It was way more bulky compared to its predecessors. The runners flaunted a fortified front section, ribbed sidewalls and oversized lace loops.
  • A Nike insider once revealed that two different designs and colourways were released, but the unfamiliar one is only forgotten.
  • With the release of AM 98, many more Air Maxes were released. Air Max Plus and Air Max 120 accompanied the AM 98.
  • The runners did not match up to the success of Air Max 95 and 97.
  • AM 98 faced a lot of criticism because of the high price tag. It retailed at $150, being one of the most extortionate Nike shoes.
  • Air max models received massive fame post the innovation of full-length air units by the 97. The AM 98, however, redesigned the air bubble and took away all the charm.
  • The famous ‘Gundam’ created a storm in AM lore and left the Nike fans raving about them. Sure, there was a lot of similarity with the mecha-build Anime, but there was no collaboration with Anime whatsoever.
  • Unfortunately, the Air Max 98 was overshadowed by the retro version of Air Max 95, which was released in the same year.
  • Air Max 98 then retroed in 2000 with colourways energized by the Air Max 95.
  • They retroed again in 2014 and retailed less than $100.
  • Initial interest in the Air Max 98 was significantly weak.
  • Prada’s America cup sneakers inspired the Supreme x Nike collaboration in 2016.
  • 2015 presented an Air Max Day memorialized the much loved Air Max models. Sadly, there was no mention of Air Max 98.

The Making & Variants of Nike Air Max 98

Air Max 98 Anatomy

The Air Max 98 has less than an overwhelming response. And the making of it played a crucial role. The AM 98 took a lot of inspiration from its forerunners, so it always played second fiddle.

It was built on the same air sole but with the absence of undulating strokes of the AM 97. The full-length air bed was taken after the AM 97, and the outsole used to protect it was also inspired by the former. The aesthetics were clearly emboldened from Lozano’s say ‘Layer after Layer everything will be revealed slowly. The swathe is similar to what’s seen on Grand Canyon walls’.

Lozano left no stones unturned in the colourways, ensuring they were attractive and irresistible. The designer incorporated vertical lines running around the sides with some catchy Swoosh locations like the toes and sides. He swiftly positioned “AIR’ on the heel and gave the trainers a nod back from the onlookers. The technology remained the same, like AM 97 flaunting the full-length airbag and a cushioned midsole. The heel tab and tongue placement were inspired by the AM 95, but the genius brain did it differently by adding reinforced lace holders on the side. He also tried to make the tongue look different by placing a diagonal ‘air max’ on the tongue and creating an identity for AM 98.

Some of the debut versions lacked the full-length air sole but did feature a 3M reflective, which is a must-have for athletes. The shoes were a titanic shift from the sleek looking predecessors. The vertically ribbed sidewalls made the runner look even bulkier with a mix of materials. Mesh upper, patent leather, overlay strapping system, sculpted polyurethane midsole and grippy outsole were surely not forgotten. Lozano gave the fans a taste of over-branding by overtly placing the Swooshed, Air Max, and ‘AIR’. You will randomly find them sewn into the shoe.

The Air Max 98 Supreme did a great job wooing the fans and bringing back ‘gone and lost’ Nike fans. It restored the full-length air unit underfoot to make it a smooth ride. The Supreme silos were bulky but also a little smooth and polished. The impressive sneakers did a great job in revoking the hype, and yes, sneaker hoggers were losing the plot.

Recommended Reading:Nike Air Max 1: A Complete Guide

Size & Comfort of Nike Air Max 98

As a general rule, Air Max models are the most comfortable sneakers, and they are also known to be true to their size. But the AM 98 is slightly different from the rest.

Is Nike Air Max 98 comfortable?

Air Max 98 is very comfortable

Athletes generally adopt air Max trainers with a drop of the hat. They are also much loved by hardcore marathon lovers. The full-length air unit rarely disappoints, but the initial models that lacked the feature lacked the comfort. Another problem that came in was the lack of arch support in the sneakers. It wasn’t designed with overpronators in mind. In the case of most Air max models, when you overpronate, you will find your feet overly flattening. This massively helped athletes and marathon runners. However, the trainers were comfortable for short runs.

The toe box is well fitted, but there is enough room for your toes to flex due to the voluminous aesthetics. So, they won’t go numb. However, if worn at a stretch for many days, you may find your feet being a little crushed. So, it’s not a 10 on 10 for comfort. The anatomically designed runners feature a dual pressure and lateral crash pad cushioned system, which helps in guiding the feet in every step. So, you can definitely wear them all day and feel sheltered.

Is the Nike Air Max 98 True to Size?

Air Max 98 Size Chart

The lesser-known silhouette in the Air Max family is awkwardly hulking, so your first impression could be of them being too roomy. Well, here’s a catch. That’s not true. Unless you have really, really narrow feet, I would recommend going half a size up. The runners are seen flaunting intricate stripes that make them slightly compact and frozen.

The oversized toe box also gets a little narrow around the toes from inside. So, if you don’t want your runners to hug you too tight and make your toes clench, opt for a bigger size. Just half a size bigger should work.

Reasons to buy the Air Max 98

Reasons to buy the Air Max 98

Image Credit: sneakerbardetroit.com

The AM 98 suffers from the middle-class syndrome. Trying too hard to contend with the forerunners and constantly competing with criticisms. In the middle of all this, let me give you strong reasons why the runners deserve a place in your shoe drobe.

  • The speed lacing is easy and gives a secure feeling.
  • The runners are recognized as one of the most durable trainers.
  • The shiny patent leather leaves you with attention and also gives a premium vibe.
  • The midsole foam is planted with polyurethane. This gives in additional strength to the sneakers.
  • The presence of air pocket comfort.
  • Find the ‘World Famous’ engraved in the Supreme x.
  • The colourways are awe-inspiring.

Recommended Reading:Nike Air Max 90: A Complete Guide

How to Spot the real Nike Air Max 98

Today, the sneaker market is engulfed with knock-offs. Crooks are replicating these treasured Nike runners and earning gazillions. Let me help you spot the difference between the two. Here’s my quick guide on real vs fake Nike Air Max 98.

Sneaker box

Air Max 98 box

One of the first things you will look into is the sneaker box. So let’s begin from that. Firstly, Nike will never sell its shoes without an official box. Secondly, the box must have a logo and label on it. Both are mandatory. When you look into the label, you must find details like the shoe size and colour, a barcode, style name and number and the country of origin. Well, these details must match with the label inside the box. The style number will always comprise 9 digits. You can smartly verify that on a search engine. Also, remember, the label will either be black with white printing or white with black printing.

Some of the boxes also have details like designs and images on the sides and top. These images must be perfectly aligned, or it’s a clear fake pair.

Sneaker sole

Air Max 98 sole

The OG Air Max 98 will have a distinctive translucent looking sole, accompanied by a cushion inside. The fake runners will have cushions that look like plastic. Some counterfeits will have the Air Max printed on the side in a bizarre-looking font.

Sneaker logo stitch

Air Max 98 Logo Stitch

Leaving the logo aside would be a silly thing. You can spot the errors even in the slightest detail. So, have a look at the Nike logo stitched on the sidewalls. Most likely, it must be colour-coordinated with the ‘AIR’. Secondly, its stitch should be firm and bound to the sneaker. If you feel it can easily get peeled off, then it’s definitely not genuine.

Sneaker sole flex

Air Max 98 sole flex

Here’s a prime reason for the stupendous sneaker popularity. All Air Max models feature a flexible look which gives all sneaker jaggers exceptional comfort. The sneaker sole must flex when you bend or stretch your feet even a little. But if it doesn’t, then the runners are not genuine. That’s because counterfeits feature a plastic sole that does not curve easily.

Also, turn the sneakers upside down and look for the sole bubble. The real runners also have a Swoosh logo embossed on them. The fake ones will screw up here, and the logo will not be rightly positioned in the centre.

Sneaker ‘AIR’ print

Air Max 98 AIR print

‘AIR’ is the monogram for Air Max runners, and there’s no denying that. Nike has manufactured several Air Max models, and all of them are seen flaunting the ‘AIR’ embossed on the side walls. The bogus AM 98 will always have the “AIR’ printed in black or white, which will never be the case with genuine ones.

Sneaker SKU number

Air Max 98 SKU number

SKU stands for the stock-keeping unit, and the counterfeits will always goof up with that. The SKU number will always be printed on the sneaker label as well as the box. Although you may find the number even on fake runners, you can spot the genuineness by re-checking what’s mentioned on the official website. If the sneakers are authentic, the number will definitely match.

Sneaker tongue

Air Max 98 tongue

Another point of distinction. The Air Max 98s have the tongue being loud about the brand. You will find the tongue of the runners saying it out loud – Airmax. The fake and genuine sneakers will flaunt the brand, but the way to distinguish between both is through the font. The fake ones will have an inconsistent font. Another way is to check the stitch of the tongue. It will be of low quality and not maintain a consistent thickness.

Sneaker Swoosh logo

Air Max 98 swoosh Logo

Just like the ‘AIR’ branding, you will also find a ‘Swoosh’ branding. There’s no way the counterfeits will miss it, but they definitely end up fumbling there. The fake runners will have the Swoosh looking obnoxiously thick, short and boxy, and the real AM 98 will have a slim and proportionately long looking Swoosh.

Sneaker toe box

Air Max 98 Toe Box

Here’s the tricky part. The AM 98 sneakers have a bulky toe box compared to their predecessors. But the counterfeits have overdone it. In the process of making it a bit chunky, they have overinflated it, and that looks super bizarre. Well, spotting this won’t be too tough.

Recommended Reading:Nike Air Max 95: A Complete Guide

How to style the Nike Air Max 98?

Criticized? Yes! Lack of interest? Yes. But we must give it off to the sneaker series for being so cheerful and spirited. One thing’s for sure. The beefy runners are capable of accentuating any outfit gracefully. So, you don’t have to do a lot of thinking with your outfit. Follow these tips from our curated styling team:

Styling tips for men

Air Max 98 men style

The fascinating and quirky construction does most of the job to make you look super alluring. Even if you love to keep it simple, you can still stand out in the crowd. That’s the aura of its boldness. Wear your chunky AM 98 runners with cargo slacks and allow them to sit perfectly on top of your trainers. Opt for a ‘no socks’ show and let your sneakers be in the spotlight. You have the flexibility to top up with what you like. A hoodie, a bomber or a basic T; any of the options are going to look spectacular. Sure, you can cap on!

The runners will look marvellous even with your basic looking joggers or cycling shorts. You could go bold with your t-shirt or team up with a tee. Being colour coordinated will make you look spunky.

Styling tips for women

Air Max 98 women style

The chunky aesthetics compliment the baggy trousers superbly. Wear them with high waisted slash knee bootcut jeans and team it with a fitted long sleeve t-shirt. When in winter, layering it with a puffy jacket will look like classic cold attire.

If all-white or all-black is your go-to outfit, it’s time you could experiment within that. A body-hugging crop top with a pencil skirt will look super stunning. Wear a chic bodycon hoodie, mini dress, and hidden socks to slay it in a subtle way. That’s enough to have all the eyes glaring at you.

How to care for Nike Air Max 98?

Air Max 98 Cleaning Process

The Air Max 98 involves intricate detailing and various layers. So, it would be best to clean the runners by giving a little time and attention. More than being basketball sneakers, they are recognized as lifestyle sneakers. So here’s a way you can have them shining bright always.

Ways to clean the Nike Air Max 98 uppers?

  • Firstly, be very careful about the water not being too hot. Let it be lukewarm. You can prepare a mild magical solution which only involves water and some detergent.
  • Use only a dry soft bristle brush. It will easily eradicate all the dirt and debris lingering on the sneaker upper. You can also use a toothbrush to get into the smaller sections.
  • Clean every Air Max material separately. Don’t rush, and don’t mix. Immerse the brush in the solution and begin scrubbing.
  • Don’t go very hard on the upper. It will ruin up the material and freshness. Be gentle and soft.
  • Once done, use a microfibre cloth to dry the upper.
  • You can follow the same procedure for the midsole and outsole. Only remember to get rid of the shoelaces.
  • Leave the runners to air dry. Keep them away from direct sunlight.

Ways to clean Nike Air Max 98 laces?

  • Well, it’s easy-peasy! Pick them up and start.
  • Grab a soft brush to eliminate the excess dirt from the front and back of it.
  • Take a tiny sized lingerie bag and let your laces in.
  • Take a medium-sized bucket and fill it with lukewarm water. You can use the same detergent you used for cleaning the shoes. Make the same mixture as you did before. If your laces are white, you can also add some bleach to the solution.
  • Place the bag in the prepared solution and let it rest for about 15 -20 minutes. Make sure the bag is submerged in the solution completely.
  • Once you remove the bag, you will find the water to be muddy and dirty.
  • Drain the bucket and refill it with fresh water.
  • Use the brush to scrub the dirt stuck on the laces.
  • Rinse the laces and see if all the dirt has come off.
  • If not, repeat the process.
  • If the laces are sparkling like before, hang them on a drying rack and allow them to dry up.

Ways to clean Nike Air Max 98 insoles?

  • Insoles are one part that just doesn’t look dirty but also smells stingy. So, cleaning them separately is super important.
  • But hang on! Before you jump on them with all your cleaning essentials, leave them to air out for a while.
  • After a couple of minutes, grab the soft brush and remove the excess dirt.
  • Take a bowl of lukewarm water and pour in some shoe cleaning serum.
  • Immerse the brush in the solution and scrub the insoles swiftly.
  • The stained areas like the toe and heel sections require more time and effort. You will find those areas to be patched with dirt.
  • Repeat the process as many times as it’s required. But don’t soak the insoles like the laces.
  • Once done, use a cloth to dry out the soap residue. Then leave it for some time to air out before placing it in the sneaker.

Some cleaning DONTs you must follow

  • If the water used is hot, it will damage your sneakers, which will be irreparable. Therefore, make sure the water is only lukewarm.
  • Keep the washing machine away from your sneakers.
  • Direct sunlight is dangerous for your runners. It will discolour them in no time.
  • No harsh chemicals. No hard brushes. In case you use bleach, be very careful about the quantity.

Some sneaker cleaning Tips

  • Don’t leave your sneakers dirty for a long time. Clean them as soon as possible.
  • Only use a toothbrush or a soft bristle brush.
  • Apart from the routine cleaning, deep clean your sneakers once in 15 days.

Recommended Reading:Nike Air Max 97: A Complete Guide

Nike Air Max 98 of All Times

Nike Air Max 98 Supreme Varsity Red 844694-600

1. Nike Air Max 98 Supreme Varsity Red: The red hot Supreme x AM runners are not just bold but very sassy. Find them flaunting a metallic silver mesh upper with varsity red patent leather overlays and a reflective piping.; while the white midsole does the toning down. The sneakers are pretty unique with their branding having the Supreme stamped at the heel tab and toes. But there’s more to that. The ‘WORLD FAMOUS’ branding is seen screaming loud at the heels.

Best Feature: Sturdy

Nike Air Max 98 AOP Tiger Olive AQ4130-200Image Credit: sneakerdistrict.com

2. Nike Air Max 98 AOP Camo: The AM Camo made waves on the internet for its jaw-dropping prints. AOP (All over print) does complete justice with its beautiful fabrication. Find the trainers with three different camo prints and a dazzling geometric print on the tongue. Draped in khaki, olive and orange with a white midsole and black outsole, the whole construction looks quirky. The yellow heel branding and colourful Nike Swooshes are like the cherry on the top.

Best Feature: Eye-catchy

Nike Air Max 98 Gundam 640744-100

3. Nike Air Max 98 Gundam (2018): Sparkling white and university red with hints of blue, these coveted trainers are reminiscent of the animated character Gundam. And that’s exactly from where the name is derived. The classic retro aesthetics involve the heel highlight, tongue branding and Swoosh logos throughout. Besides that, you can get geared for a multi-patterned leather, synthetic upper and a 3M black piping trim.

Best Feature: Vibrant colour scheme

Nike Air Max 98 Shanghai Marathon 2018 BV6955-106

4. Nike Air Max 98 Shanghai Marathon (2018): Doesn’t the name already make you feel like you can run a marathon? The sneaker colourway drew its inspiration from the all-over print of Chinese characters’ Run Shanghai.’ What’s impressive is the intricate detailing. You will find a Tyvek tongue energized by the race bibs in the Shanghai Marathon. Also, the reflective detailing and white overlays make the runners even more enticing.

Best Feature: Versatile

Nike Air Max 98 Wild West Light Armory Blue BV6045-400

5. Nike Air Max 98 Wild West: The Wild West iteration looks nothing less than a masterpiece. Released as a special edition, the Old West inspired the runners. They are dressed in faded blue denim and red paisley with some brown leather hues. The runners are also seen flaunting a dark blue midsole, gum rubber outsole and some white accents. It’s a classic craft for sure.

Best Feature: Color block panelling

Superstars in Nike Air Max 98

If you are a sneaker stalker, this section is a treat for you! Celebrities are often seen in different Nike Air Max silos, and with the NBA season getting bigger, athletes are out there in their favourite kicks looking nothing less than a million dollars. Let’s have a look at the who’s who!

Lebron James spotted with Airmax 98

Image Credit: solecollector.com

We only got a gist of Lebron James, but it was enough to leave an impact. He looked like a brand ambassador for the French soccer player – Kylian Mbappé. His cheerful AM 98 grabbed a lot of attention. He was also seen wearing the hyped Supreme x Nike AM 98 to the NBA finals in all-black creation.

PJ Tucker spotted with Airmax 98Image Credit: sneakerbardetroit.com

American Basketeer PJ Tucker has no qualms about his casual ensemble. He slew it in his ‘Gundam AM 98’ and wore vibrant joggers with an off white Tee.

Odell Beckham spotted with Airmax 98Image Credit: nicekicks.com

Not just NBA, but the bonafide trainers received the cult-like following from the NFL as well. In football, Odell Beckham needs no introduction. The superhero athlete is a big-time sneakerholic. He looked so radiant on a bright summer afternoon wearing the Supreme Varsity Red in a jersey tee and shorts. The sportsman sure flaunted a sporty look.

Sean Wotherspoon spotted with Airmax 98Image Credit: spotern.com

The renowned Youtube series creator and American sneaker designer – Sean Wotherspoon has always played the sneaker fashion game on point. He posted a picture on his Instagram handle wearing the Nike Air Max 98 Gundam and matched them to his shorts and t-shirt. He could make anyone go on a holiday.

Bella Hadid is known for her red carpet looks and her exquisite fashion fad all across the globe. Apart from that, she’s also very popular for her gym looks and casual swathe. She can make even a basic t-shirt look so royal; that’s her charm. We spotted the AM 98 beauties on her Instagram post, looking even more elite on her feet.

Drake spotted with Airmax 98Image Credit: nicekicks.com

The sprightly colourways are not just day wear but also a night rocker. The renowned Canadian rapper Drake wore them swiftly, passing by with all eyes gazing at him.

J Balvin spotted with Airmax 98Image Credit: nicekicks.com

Colombian singer J Balvin is known for his songs and his spunky style. He wore his iconic AM runners with an all-black attire. His style is definitely quirky. He matched his kicks with his slipover neckline. Witty mind rapper 21 Savage sported a completely bizarre look. He matched and mismatched his runners with the ensemble. You have to see the picture to believe it!

Recommended Reading:Nike TN Air Max Plus: A Complete Guide

Wrapping up

And that’s a wrap to the Nike Air Max 98 complete guide. Another contribution by Sergio Lozano in the sneaker realm, leaving the Nike fans drooling with excitement. You have a brief idea of the comfort, size, fabrication, collaborations and everything more. So, what’s stopping you from taking your sneaker game high?

The chunky sneakers are sure to last you very long. And that’s one of its fortes. Grab your pair with us right now. Fast Sole is the first to feature them, and you definitely don’t wanna miss them!

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