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— Jonah & Erin
SpyFriends who had their minds expanded profoundly by our landmark “Ugly Genius” essay are familiar with my incredible philosophical thoughts about the Nike Air Max 97. A truly bizarre alien-artifact-looking shoe — with reflective silver 3M rings encircling a bed of silver mesh — it’s a jawn I found physically revolting on first sight, only to decide that this revulsion was actually a “leading indicator” of the sneaker’s rule-scrambling dopeness…. A principle of “ugly genius” that I’ve since applied to all manner of “challenging” pieces of art & design …
So, when it came to subsequent encounters I had with ‘00s-era, ugly-a**, silver-bedecked running sneakers of the type you could call CYBORG AEROBICS JOINTS or RAVER NURSE 1s, you might think I’d have learned my lesson and recognized their counterintuitive flyness off rip…
But no! I disdained them / slept on them HARD. It took the aesthetic morass of the contemporary running-sneaker landscape — so many formless knit uppers with zzzzz heathered color schemes, so many bland marshmallow outsoles — to finally make me go back and appreciate the more maximalist “ugly genius” I’d overlooked when these s**ts were first dominant…
Notwithstanding some outliers, the shoes I’m talking about tend to consist of:
🌫 Silver paneling and other metallic accents applied to
🌫 Hexagonal-honeycomb-type large-gauge mesh, plus
🌫 Gooey bulbous molded-plastic inserts at the heels / insteps to help boost, like, “torsion performance” or whatever sneaker marketers were psyched about circa 2007…
Today, we’re saluting 20+ swaggy specimens of this SEEMINGLY WACK yet somehow HIGHLY POPPING STRAIN of sneaker. (With a few exceptions, these come in both men’s and women’s versions…)
FYI some of these are on deep discount at places like Big 5 Sporting Goods; some are up for grabs new at places like END. and Matches; others are gone from stores but still coppable at eBay and other resellers. Rather than linking to this messy-a** hodgepodge willy-nilly, we are “unbeatably empowering” you to copy the name of any SILVER KICK you see here, paste it into G*ogle and take it from there…
A. Asics Gel-Kayano 14
B. Saucony Grid Marauder 3 — a workhorse uggo slapper that goes for like ~$40.
C. Asics Gel-Preleus
D. Nike Air Tuned Max — these dropped right before the millennium and are a bit of an outlier, but they fit the overall vibe.
E. Diadora Mythos Propulsion 280
F. Brooks Ghost 4 (also pictured below) — we’ve heard from Brooks-respecting SpyFriends who prefer the Adrenaline and the Glycerin, but for me?? I’m a GHOST BOI… and while I like Ghosts 1-to-8 (they lose me once the 9 rolls around) the 4 is my personal favorite.
G. Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Cage 2 — the Spiridon first dropped in 2003, and it’s been “rediscovered” by sneakerheads for a minute now… to my eye it looks better than ever, and I wonder if it helped inspire ppl to dig deeper into the annals of ‘00s silver/mesh…
H. Mizuno Wave Rider 12
I. Balenciaga Runners (also pictured below) — the newest sneakers featured here, these cost $1150 a pair and they’re admirably psycho. This is what happens when Demna Gvasalia focuses his Post-Soviet Declassé Gaze onto the ‘00s Raver Nurse Shoe Genre and pushes the logic to a hypertrophied avant-garde extreme… (the silver Asics x Andersson Bell Gel-1090 is another “artistic” re-interpretation along these lines, though not quite as inspired / monstrous.)
J. New Balance 530 — perfect for my INSATIABLE LIMIT-PUSHERS who find 990s-993s too familiar / too fully reclaimed by “fashion heads” at this point and / or who can’t track down a pair of the very fire silver 860 v2s (pictured way up top) in their size. (I’m still a 992 boi too, don’t get it twisted!!)
K. Saucony Cohesion 6
WE ALSO SALUTE: Early models of Nike’s Zoom Equalon and Zoom Vomero (pictured earlier); the Mizuno Wave Rider 10 (all the Wave Riders up to ~18 or so are worth peeping); the Saucony ProGrid Pinnacle 2 (pictured above in a MADCAP women’s colorway), Paramount 3 and Guide 3 (pictured earlier); the Hi-Tec Silver Shadow (pictured here):
… NOT TO MENTION Brooks Beasts up to like ~17; the Asics Gel-Kinsei OG, Gel Kyrios and Gel 1130; and the gorpier, more-contemporary silver Salomon XT-Wings 2 ( below)…
If there’s a SILVERY SLAPPER you love that isn’t here, shout it out in the comments and put SpyNation on to game, baby!
On Thursday we’re dropping our EXTREMELY LIMITED “SEINFELD SPYPLANE” crewnecks.
We whipped these up using vintage drop-shoulder Nike sweatshirts we sourced, in an homage to a very obscure and very rare 1995 crew gift commemorating the making of Seinfeld’s 100th episode.
Cla$$ified Subscribers will get access an hour before our public SpyFriends, and our sense is that these are gonna go fast, so if yr in the Cla$$ified Tier, be sure to open Thursday’s email w/ PROMPTNESS & ALACRITY baby !!
And if yr not in the Cla$$ified Tier this is one of 100 reasons to join up, like exclusive intel, giveaways, access to delightful “unbeatably paywalled” zones like the gem-stuffed Blackbird SpyMall, our recommendation-rich SpyTalk chat room, our guide to earth’s best jawns and a bunch more we’re blanking on ‘cause we do mad cool s**t…
If you read Blackbird Spyplane, chances R better than average that you listen to the COOKIES HOOPS podcast, from SpyFriends Ben Detrick & Andrew Kuo. They even had yr boy Young Spyplane on the pod a couple months back for a major crossover event.
Speaking of “crossovers,” they just “crossed over” from nu-media podding into old-media book-writing with their new big beautiful HOOPERS BIBLE The Joy Of Basketball — it’s out today, so COP THAT HERE.
P❤️🔥E❤️🔥A❤️🔥C❤️🔥E — Jonah & Erin