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Nike’s New Upscale Air Max Sports More Than 55,000 Swarovski Crystals

It’s a new golden age for sneakers and this Nike x Swarovski collaboration, a metallic gold Air Max 97 LX covered in an estimated 55,960 Swarovski crystals, proves it.

Last year, Nike reintroduced its Air Max 97 to the masses with a twist, the traditionally reflective silhouette would sparkle, not because of its metallic finish—as it had in years past—but because it was covered in Swarovski’s crystal mesh fabric.

In 2018, on the day after Christmas, Nike will release the next generation of its Swarovski line of luxury sneakers with the “Metallic Gold” Air Max 97 LX. The shoe will be available in women’s sizes at Nike locations and on Nike’s SNKRS app.

In 1997, the Air Max 97 was developed to provide complete 360-degree reflectivity, inspired by industrial finishes found on mountain bikes and the fluid design lines of Japan’s bullet trains. The shoe’s design was futuristic and sleek, thanks to a new hidden lacing system, and supported by a shoe-length cushion with transparent siding—the signature feature of the Air Max line of sneakers.

However, the biggest change over the previous year’s Air Max 96 was the addition of metallic colorways, which quickly became the 97’s most defining and dividing feature. The Air Max 97 was originally available in a metallic silver colorway but was later released with a gold colorway two years later.

Now, Nike and Swarovski will look to repeat history by adding an upscale golden colorway to the Air Max 97 LX in the present day. The sneaker will feature the same red “swoosh” accents found on its silver counterpart and will likely also retail for around $400, though full pricing details have yet to be revealed.

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Both versions of the Air Max 97 LX are made with Swarovski’s crystal fabric mesh, a fabric encrusted with a dense array of crystals, contributing to the shoe’s “gleaming, yet gritty” look.  The fabric is light and flexible enough to be used for a variety of apparel and can be fixed to the shoe’s upper without stitching via a heat fusing process.

The material is applied to each of the signature “waves” found on the shoe’s upper using “precise patterns” that Swarovski says must be adapted to each individual shoe size. The mesh, itself, is composed of thousands of XILION chatons, a patented Swarovski crystal that is cut to provide “perfect refraction and intense light distribution.”

Not to be outdone, Puma released its own Swarovski collaboration last week in the form of a pair of Puma Suede Classics, including a bejeweled version of the brand’s signature stripe. In March, New Balance dropped a pair of its NB1 574’s decked out in Swarovski crystals, pearlized leather accents and a full suede construction.

Starting with Fall/Winter 2019, Swarovski will begin to introduce a “Synthetic Coldfix” crystal mesh alternative that doesn’t require a heat fusion process, allowing the fabric to be applied to softer leathers and more sensitive textiles in the future.