The 7 Most Underappreciated Sneakers of the 1990s

  • Nike Air Raid
    Nike Air Raid

    The Nike Air Raid was a shoe that was also on that undervalued list. Conceived by Nike design legend Tinker Hatfield, the outdoor basketball shoe featured wild colors with an even more radical cross-strap design. The “No Refs” and “No Wood” stitches on the heels, as well as instructions, reminded wearers that these were for “Outdoor Use Only.” Even with the backing of Spike Lee on the ad campaigns and the Tim Hardaway co-sign on the court, these shoes didn’t catch on as much as Nike probably would have thought it would. That said, they absolutely must be in any sneakerhead’s collection.

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  • Nike Air Max BW
    Nike Air Max BW

    One of the most slept on Air Maxs might be the BW, referring to its “Big Window” bubble, a model originally released in 1991. The runner doesn’t have as much popularity as its predecessor the Air Max 90, or even the ’95 and the ’97, but it has cemented itself years after its release. It also helps that graffiti artist Stash remixed the shoe with his own colors to make it even more popular. But the Persian Violet colorway is one people are still constantly looking for these days. Collectors might find it hard to believe they were on sale racks going for next to nothing at one point.

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  • Nike Air Carnivore
    Nike Air Carnivore

    Released in 1993, the Nike Air Carnivore was a shoe that you either loved or hated. Like the Air Raid, it also has a complex series of straps and a patterned midsole design. The shoe also lacked laces. It takes a special person to really appreciate the hybrid sock-type sneaker. The design might have freaked people out from wearing the shoe since it was way ahead of its time. If there were a true neck breaker that didn’t come with hype, these would be it.

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  • Airwalk Jim
    Airwalk Jim

    Nike and Reebok were dominating the sneaker market in the ‘90s. If you wore Airwalks, you might have been clowned for wearing skippies. But if these Airwalk Jims came out today, they would sell like hotcakes. There’s not much to the simple design, but the color and material stick out. The Alife Reebok Pumps might be more well known for its use of the tennis ball fur, but this shoe was way ahead in 1993 by using the neon fuzz fabric.

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  • Reebok ES 22
    Reebok ES 22

    Yes, Emmitt Smith had a signature sneaker, and it was called the Reebok ES 22. Released in 1997 for the Dallas Cowboys running back, the shoe featured the honeycombed Hexalite cushioning with a mid-cut silhouette. It basically looked like the Reebok Question on steroids. A signature shoe for a running back that could plow through anyone had to have the looks to match, right?

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  • Nike Zoom Haven
    Zoom Haven

    Another shoe that came with multiple amounts of parts was the Zoom Haven. Born under Nike’s Alpha Project, it had an exoskeleton shell that made it unique. There were several amazing Co.JP colorways that were only released in Japan, but if you were lucky enough, some helpful soul could get you a pair. Or you could have scored some on eBay. The low profile cross trainer might not have won a wide number of fans, but the shoe has its hardcore followers.

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  • adidas Mutombo
    adidas Mutombo

    There was a bevy of athletes getting their own signature shoes back in the ‘90s. You can thank that mostly to the success happening with Nike and its Air Jordan line at the time. However, it’s easy to miss a signature shoe when it’s not from players like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley or Penny Hardaway, just to name a few. One of the wildest kicks out of the ‘90s signature boom was the adidas Mutombo. Developed for eight-time All-Star center Dikembe Mutombo, the design of the shoe was inspired by his African heritage. It came with a shield on the tongue and Congo patterns on the upper. There was even a full line of apparel to match. Sleep on these next time they get retried? No, no, no!

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  • Nike Air Raid
  • Nike Air Max BW
  • Nike Air Carnivore
  • Airwalk Jim
  • Reebok ES 22
  • Nike Zoom Haven
  • adidas Mutombo

The ’90s were a great time for sneakers. Companies were releasing different models in various colorways. Professional athletes were getting blessed left and right with their own signature kicks. With so much being released, it was easy for pairs to fly past your radar undetected. Sometimes you just slept on a couple designs, but later realized how amazing the design was after the shoe was long gone from the clearance rack.

One of the most underrated kicks of the decade had to be the Nike Air Raid, which is releasing this Saturday at Champs Sports. With the “Peace” colorway release almost here, as well as the “Peace” colorway of the AF1, we take a look at other slept-on shoes of the ‘90s. Some shoes are just instant classics, others take a little bit of time to get to that level. These are the sneakers that fall in the latter part of the category. There are quite a few, and not all were Nikes. Good luck hunting a few of these down.

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