Nike To Bring Back The Air Max Plus ‘Scarab’

June 07, 2022 by Joey Birch

Nike To Bring Back The Air Max Plus ‘Scarab’

The Nike Air Max Plus (TN) is a sneaker that, along with its cousins, has made its mark in the broader sneaker industry and history books for years to come. Following its release in 1998, the silhouette has become synonymous with the streets of London and Paris, being a key player in streetwear culture and the music genres that they channel. 

Ahead of its 25th anniversary next year, Nike has been releasing a handful of new colourways of the silhouette seemingly in preparation for the wider celebrations in 2023.

After joining the Swoosh just one-year earlier in 1997, Sean McDowell was tasked with designing a running sneaker that would further revolutionise the Air Max lineage. Initially titled the ‘Sky Air’, the silhouette was the first to utilise Nike’s ‘Tuned Air’ (AKA TN) technology, introducing the Pebax-built Tuned hemispheres, providing low pressure cushioning at the heel, allowing for natural foot-landing.

While the original design was inspired by the deep blue ombre dusk sky in Florida, which has since become a classic for collectors, Nike would go on to release several sought after colourways. One of which being the ‘Scarab’ in 2001. 

While the OG colourway featured an ombre effect to its thick mesh upper, the ‘Scarab’ showcased a synthetic upper with a colour shifting finish to further the idea of an adaptive look. This material was made popular two years prior in 1999 following the release of the Nike Air Tuned Max which featured a Beatle style colourway to the upper that would later go on to inspire Skepta’s Air Max 97 collaboration in 2017 with the OG silhouette being retroed for the first time in 2021.

In an Instagram post from 2019, sneaker historian and documenter Archive DNA (@archive.dna) discusses the OG ‘Scarab’ colourway of the TN, saying: “This pair of Air Max Plus is considered a true grail for those who collect them…this 2001 edition is one of the rarest colourways around and there won’t be many of these around in deadstock condition”. 

The most important, and eyecatching, detail on the upcoming retro is the adaptive upper that changes from a copper tone to an oxidised green in a certain light, providing a unique finish that made the sneaker so popular for TN fans in the first place. 

Additionally, the silhouette includes a black rubber toe cap and a speed lacing system up the centre of the shoe with the signature retro ‘Nike Air’ gem logo on the tongue and ‘TN Air’ on the heel. The usual mini Swoosh is found on the medial and lateral sides of the upper which sits atop a black midsole broken apart with a copper shank plate under the midfoot finished off with the OG TN outsole featuring the Tuned hemispheres under the ankle. 

The retro of the Nike Air Max Plus ‘Scarab’, or ‘Metallic Copper’ as it appears to be named for its 2022 release, could be the one to bring the iconic silhouette back into the spotlight ahead of its 25th anniversary in 2023.

For the full history of Air Max, click here.