When Sergio Lozano concepted the Airmax 95 his colleagues around him questioned whether some of the design references featured on the shoe were enough to make it sell. 25 years later, Nike Airmax 95 is one of the brands most successful models and has stood the test of time with its individualistic look.
With multiple collaborations, colour ways and retros the Airmax 95 is a show that when done right is always going to become an instant classic.
To talk 95 history we linked up with Joel Stoddart from Generation Works, who has not only been working in the industry for a while but has also been a long time lover of the Airmax 95 ‘Neon’ since a very young age!
Footpatrol: Joel thank you for coming to spend some time with us to celebrate the launch of the long time classic. How has life been treating you this year?
Joel Stoddart: Yeah it’s been alright! Work has kept me busy, had quite a few new challenges that I’ve been able to appreciate and helped me to keep my mind off all the other stuff that’s going on in the world at the moment. Got to spend loads of time with my family in Norfolk in the countryside which is always nice, breaks up the busy city life that I’m used to.
Been enjoying feeding ducks, pigeons and all sorts of flying animals. But yeah everythings cool, everyone close to me is well and safe so I can’t complain.
FP: You are a pretty recognisable face when it comes to London’s sneaker scene. I wanted to start off by asking you how you found yourself getting into footwear in the first place?
JS: My fascination with trainers started through football back in primary school on the playground. I got my first pair of Nike Total 90 astros, I was intrigued by the design more than anything else.
FP: I had the burgundy and silver pair!
JS: I had the white and silver version! The paneling was crazy on the T90s! I used to go home after wearing them all day and just stare at them, observing the different materials and panelling. At the time even though I wasn’t good at any sports really, I was really into basketball for quite a while, I used to just look at the shoes the players were wearing. I’d also watch a lot of MTV music videos where I’d do the same and just look at their shoes, they were all wearing Air Force 1s and Dunks. After watching and seeing all these pairs on their feet I would just go away and try and find them all on the internet or my local JD store but of course a lot of those pairs were not even sold here or they were US exclusives etc…. – I remember there was a Dilated Peoples video and Evidence was wearing the ‘Wheat’ dunk Highs and that’s when I thought okay I want to find out more about exclusive trainers. I went on Ebay looking for those ‘Wheats’ and stumbled across the Supreme Dunk High with the stars and thought ‘why are these so much, dunks in the shop are only £90’. That was my introduction to brands like Supreme and stuff.
I used to have a folder on my computer of trainers that I liked! It wasn’t till year 5/6 that my mum started getting me nice trainers, I’m there blagging to her that I’ll make them last the whole year, I’ll look after them, all that! I was lucky to get some nice pairs like ‘Carolina’ Dunk High’s and ‘Obsidian’ Air Max 2003’s.
I remember the first time that I saw a pair of Bapesta’s and didn’t know what they were so I searched online for “Air Force 1’s with a star”, found out what they were really called and then ended up stumbling across forum pages like BapeTalk2 and Crooked Tongues. That opened up a whole new world for me because you had the mix of collectors, industry heads and all round incredibly knowledgeable guys who were just passionate about trainers. You had people like Gary Warnett doing the write ups and things so there was an insane amount of reading material for me to learn from. I think the day I discovered Crooked Tongues I made it a thing to go on there everyday and read something new. I have never been able to absorb information very well even in classes at school but there has always been something about shoes that once I’ve read it, it just sticks.
From all this went to college, dropped out and started looking for jobs handing CVs out to every store you could think of at the time, none of the cool shops wanted to hire a 16 year old with no experience and a terribly written CV, so my first job ended up being for Tiger (Now Flying Tiger) in Stratford which at the time didn’t have many stores outside of Kopenhagan and then one day on my lunch break I remember that the No6 store had a drop of a Mita Sneakers Rod Laver Vin that was otherwise a JP exclusive in the ‘Tobacco’ colourway. So I jumped on the Central line to Soho and ran to the store, asked the manager Paolo if he still had a pair in a 7 and he went and grabbed a pair. He asked me like a week later if there was a chance that if a job opened here would I be interested in working there and I said yes! By chance he called me down the line whilst I was on holiday and offered me a job!
From there I spent 2 years working at No6, met loads of nice people within the industry, Crooked Tongues guys would come by, Patta guys would come by, the guys from Footpatrol as well. Everyone would pass through! I even used to walk customers round to FP if we didn’t have a shoe and I thought that you guys did! Through all this I also got to meet Nori from U-DOX who at the time was making an updated version of the sneakers guide they did in 2005. Nori came by and asked Paolo if he knew anyone who could help out and he pointed straight to me! I would do 4 days at No6 and 3 days a week at U-DOX for two months helping to source shoes and create some copy for the book, learning how it all works and learning the process. Then after that I returned back to No6 but felt something was missing, having tasted this new realm of the industry, I wanted to be back in that busy working environment.
Nori messaged me again asking to borrow a couple pairs for the book, I said of course and bopped down to the office and bumped into Russell who started up U-DOX and Crooked alongside Chris Law and Chris Aylen. He said he heard I was helping with the book and that I was doing a decent job. He asked me to come have a quick meeting with him in his office. From that chat I ended up getting a job as the Social Media Manager! I was gutted to tell Paolo that I was leaving No6 but he was really happy for me.
So I was Social Media Manager for about a year and half whilst also still helping out with the book at the same time. The book then got finished, went to print and I’m pretty sure it’s still doing well now. When we were putting it together though we didn’t really think about the page count, we just wanted to get as much as we could in there. When the publishers came back and said they wanted to take out like 90pages to keep it in line with the first book, we were then stuck with all this leftover information. Luckily though we thought about putting it into an app so everything from the first book, second book and extras. It had rotating images of every shoe which was a long process. I think there were about 500 shoes! Annoyingly it’s only on iPad but it’s a sick app I will have to show you one day!
I got to work on some other cool projects whilst I was there. We did a patch project that we even worked with Footpatrol on and also a t-shirt project too.
As I was coming to the end of my time at U-DOX, Ry from The Drop Date heard that I was after a job via a mutual friend and now colleague, Elsey, and invited me out for a beer and offered me a job on the affiliates side of the business nearly 3 years ago now. I used to go over all the schedules, working with stores, planning which shoes take priority on the home page, finding out what shoes were available or sold out and would update the pages accordingly.
About half a year into working at The Drop Date, Generation Works started doing agency work from the same office as TDD. They would get me to drop in and help source shoes for exhibits or put together seeding events like the one that we did for the Mizuno Wave Rider 1 OG.
FP: Which was great by the way, we loved it. Small, low key and and a great way to introduce a brands new lifestyle range. Not many chances you get to see all the collaboration samples way before release dates!
JS: It was really good man, the food was also mad! That was my first introduction into planning and putting together an event like that with a brand. From there Ben and Will from Generation Works asked me to jump in on a couple of other bits, I balanced the 2 jobs together for about 2 years but it was a really good learning curve for me. Then about 5/6 months ago, Ben and Will asked me to join Generation Works as a Project Manager/Producer and threw me back into the deep end.
When I was a kid I would have never thought that I would be able to work in any of these places so when I occasionally get a bit stressed about a certain project, I remind myself to be grateful about the opportunities that I have been able to be a part of.
FP: There is no doubt that you have seen some trends come and go over that timeframe! One thing is for certain though is that you have been a long time lover of the Airmax 95 ‘Neon’ designed by Mr. Sergio Lozano. Could you walk us through the elements of the shoe that caught your eye when you first saw them?
JS: I remember the first time I saw a pair of 95s. I was in primary school and my classmate’s older brother used to have a pair, I used to see them on his feet when it came to being collected from school. It was that small swoosh on the back that caught me though, I was so used to seeing big swooshes on Nike trainers and they just looked aggressive and chunky. You have to bear in mind the Air units also at the time were mental and I didn’t see many Airmax’s at the time. Even though they were on my classmates older brother I never asked what they were.
I remember my Dad had this mate called Mike, who he’d link up with every Saturday just to catch up and I would go with him and they’d leave me to walk around the house. Being a nosey little kid I would look through his wardrobe thinking ‘Ooo I want to see what he’s got’. I opened the door and he had a pair of Neons! I was like a size 4 at the time and my dad’s mate was like a 10 and I would put them on and walk around the top floor of Mike’s house in his shoes haha!
From there the shoes were just cemented in my mind.
FP: Mr. Lozano when designing this model took his inspiration from aspects of the human anatomy such as the rib cage. Do you think the reason this shoe has been such a staple for so long is down to such design stories and inspiration or do you think it’s something else?
JS: I think it’s a mix of design and nostalgia. If you put them next to any other Airmax they stand out.
A lot of the older guys in my area would wear them with their Leather Avirex jackets and that made them even more desirable for me.
FP: Over the years there has been a fair few retros of the neon 95, are you the type of person to buy every one or do you tend to stick to one and leave it?
JS: Na you know, I have a couple of Neon retros but that’s because I would own a pair, wear them and as they get to the end of their life I would then buy another to replace it. For quite a while I didn’t want to spend over the odds to get a shoe I wanted. I would rather wait to see if I could get it a little bit cheaper. For quite a long time though I was super picky when it came down to the Neon retros, I would pick them apart because for example the toe box was too bulky or whatever.
Even on these ones coming out now, if I had a wearable pair I would have most likely passed on them. At the moment though I have no wearable Neons so I HAVE to get these retros.
FP: What about your thoughts on remastered iterations of shoes such as the NDISTRUK Airmax 95, how do you feel about these types of projects?
JS: I’m not mad at it to be honest, I think it’s good to give the consumer some options.
One pair I wasn’t that keen on though on the 95 was the Vapormax hybrid, the proportions didn’t really match up.
FP: Besides the Neon you also have quite an array of Airmax 95s such as some OGs, Co.Jp Exclusive, all sorts!! Could you walk us through some of your Favourite pairs that you own and what makes them so special?
Loopwheeler x Nike Airmax 95 – They are pretty much my favourite pair that I own. I remember going to the Loopwheeler store on my first trip to Japan and it was like the first or second time I held their product in hand. The feeling of the cotton, the fits, good sized hoods overall there stuff just fits me so well. The cotton felt like nothing I ever felt before and introduced me to the Loopwheel production process. From there on I had this big respect for this brand that wasn’t following what others were doing, at the same time they were also busting out some hard Nike collabs too. Due to the love that Japan have for the 95, I always thought that it’d make sense for them to collaborate on a pair at some point.
Mita x Nike Airmax 95 ‘Prototype’ – For me these are definitely up there! It’s the black tongue and the Ueno embroidery in the sock liner. The colour way was the sample of I think the second proposed design that Sergio did for this shoe. I believe the first design for the 95 was the same as the Prototype but without the swoosh and for obvious reasons Nike added it. It’s sick to be able to have a shoe based on one that never happened, on top of that they were a Co.Jp exclusive and sold at Mita only.
Joint 3rd | Nike Airmax 95 ‘110’ – It’s a shoe I never thought would happen. Everyone I knew growing up used to call the 95s ‘110s’ so much so that it was rare someone called them 95s. So for something that turned from a name given to them by people across the UK to then becoming a product with the ‘110’ moniker on the tongue, I just thought it was mad. Materials are also great, details are amazing, it’s definitely a pair that I will never get rid off.
1997 Nike Airmax 95 ‘Neon’ Retro – The shape is amazing, bubbles are crazy big and before they cracked and crumbled I got about 40 good wears out of them as well.
FP: That’s a lot of wear for a 20+ year old shoe, you were crazy lucky on those.
JS: Trust, I bought them DS as well on Ebay US for basically retail. I thought after I bought them that I wouldn’t be getting much wear for obvious reasons but I ended up getting loads.
That would have to be my top 3 or 4 pairs that I got for sure.
FP: Now what about a pair you don’t own, are there any 95s that you still see as grails that you would one day like to have?
JS: Yeah 100%, Stash 95s. It was one of those ones when I just didn’t have the money to get them at the time. I had the Stash AF1 and BW though.
I regret not picking up the Parra ‘Running Mans’ when they were in Covent Garden Size? for like £40 on the sale rack. I didn’t really like them at the time to be honest but over the years they have grown on me.
Other than that the Dave White 95 white leather joints and a few pairs from the early 2000s like the green monsters, tour yellows, orange blaze. Those gradient type pairs are always nice
FP: What makes a successful 95 release for you?
JS: Unusual material options and subtle details do the job for me. Some kind of nod to the OG DNA too.
I feel like it’s one of those shoes you can have so much fun with, it’s hard to get this shoe wrong.
FP: It has been great to sit down and chat shoes with you Joel. Thanks again for allowing us to see some of the rare pairs you own!