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Supreme Signals Big Year for the Nike Zoom Flight 95

The New York-based brand is bringing back an old favorite — and the tea leaves suggest it’s a sign of much more to come.

After a litany of leaks, global streetwear staple Supreme officially unveiled its collaborative collection around the Nike Air Zoom Flight 95 on Monday.

Modeled by Bloody Osiris and Bloody Dior, the Jiro Konami-shot campaign depicts blue, black, and tan takes of the archival basketball shoe once endorsed by Jason Kidd. Essentially moving the model from the hardwood to Harlem, the radical rebrand is intended to add energy around adjacent iterations of the original.

Like many a Supreme collaboration before, the brand is well-versed in inverting an icon in a manner that toes the line between tribute and transgression. This polarizing play is no different — removing the shoe’s celebrated carbon fiber weave panel with that of paisley print. The bandana revamp is more Max B than Max Air, revising the wavy aesthetic in left-of-center fashion that’s both gritty and glam.

The Supreme x Nike Zoom Flight 95 might seem like a one-off moment in the company’s loaded release calendar.

However, it’s also a signal flare heralding more models of this ilk to come.

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Back to the Future

As the name suggests, the Nike Zoom Flight 95 first arrived at retailers around the midway point of the 1990s.

Boardroom’s own Nick DePaula dubs the original Zoom Flight 95 as “the greatest sneaker design of all time,” citing a futuristic feel that still appears modern despite debuting almost 30 years ago. Built for basketball while angling away from the bulky nubuck models made before it, the shoe’s shape spoke to something sharper.

“Design is a balance between science and art,” designer Eric Avar told DePaula when discussing the shoe years back. “For me personally, it always begins with looking at the science side of things and the performance side of things, and ultimately, find out what problem you’re trying to solve. We wanted to design a shoe that could, in a sense, somewhat control a player like Jason Kidd with all his speed and power.”

Nearly averaging a double-double in only his second season with the Dallas Mavericks — the team he now coaches — Kidd was the future of the game. His shoe needed to reflect that.

Kidd’s coast-to-coast play positioned the Zoom Flight 95 as advanced, celebrating a true change of the guard. Imaginative full-page print ads in Sports Illustrated for Kids sold the shoes and Kidd as the leader of the new school. On TV, a close-up of Kidd’s kicks appeared in Nike’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” spot, which featured KRS-One offering a spoken word homage to Gil Scott-Heron.

Though rising stars such as Eddie Jones and Kevin Garnett appeared in the clip, it was Kidd and his new shoes from Swoosh savant Eric Avar that stole the show.

Avar, also responsible for celebrated signature sneakers likened to Penny Hardaway and Kobe Bryant, intended to create a shoe so fast that it looked like it was in motion even when standing still. Despite being headlined by the speedy play of Kidd in the backcourt, one could argue the original Zoom Flight 95 predicted positionless basketball.

Guards gravitated towards the Zoom Flight 95, but they weren’t alone. Fab 5 forward-turned-lottery pick Juwan Howard played in pairs during his lone NBA All-Star season in 1995-96.

Despite being a hit on the hardwood upon arrival, the Zoom Flight 95 was never meant to live forever.

For the remainder of the 1990s, the Zoom Flight 95 returned to the archive but continued to inspire innovation. Models such as Kidd’s Nike Zoom Flight V in 1996 and the almost-identical Nike Air Flight Motion and Nike Neo Classic in 2000 pulled profoundly from ZF95 playbook.

Nike Zoom Flight 95 Retro 2022 (via Nike)

In retro life, the Zoom Flight has experienced a couple of comeback laps, led by the classic “Carbon Fiber” makeup but also reimagined under the fantasy basketball branding of Foot Locker’s House of Hoops as well as the lifestyle lens of NikeLab.

After arriving in 2008 and ’15 in the famed Black/White-Carbon Fiber colorway worn on court by Kidd, the court classic is coming back to stores in 2022.

Reports suggest that the original colorway will return to Europe only one day after the Supreme collaboration releases at retail. This will all add energy to the shoe’s US arrival, but is perhaps only one part of the bigger play.

While one would love for Coach Kidd to pop up in a pair of his old favorites on the sideline, directing Luka as he leads his first signature shoe from Jordan Brand, there’s a different kind of courtside king currently linked to the future of the Flight 95.

Comeback Season

Over the course of the Toronto Raptors’ first-round postseason series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Drake debuted a new Nike model made in the image of Kidd’s kicks.

Likely an upcoming launch under the NOCTA imprint, the mystery pair plays up a reverse-leaning aesthetic — creating moonwalk momentum by cueing up carbon fiber finishes and elliptical shapes on the sole.

For those keeping track at home, this is only the second sneaker seen from Drake’s NOCTA x Nike partnership. Already hopping categories from outerwear to golf in apparel, one has to wonder whether this a formal foray into basketball. Conversely, perhaps it’s a tennis take, or simply another lifestyle look for the rapper.

In either event, all energy circles back to that of the Nike Zoom Flight 95.

Despite celebrating its 27th anniversary, the Eric Avar oddity is back in the limelight with Supreme batting leadoff. While the streetwear collaboration may undercut the carbon fiber foundation of the original, it ironically adds to the appetite of those waiting on the retro, and maybe even piques purist curiosity around Drake’s NOCTA nod.

Following in the footsteps of Supreme’s $16,000 Meissen mirror — modeled by Slick Rick, no less — the Supreme x Nike Zoom Flight 95 arrives at Supreme locations in limited fashion on Thursday, May 5.

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