A Case for More Patent Leather Nike Air Flight 89 Releases

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On this day in history 20 years ago, absolutely nothing happened in relevance to the Nike Air Flight 89. Maybe 30 years ago on this day they went into production for the following season’s hoop lineup and maybe 10 years ago today they went on sale at Marshalls in retro form. Regardless, there is nothing of relevance to Flight 89 and April 3rd, 2018.

So, why are we talking about them?

Well, I like them and think maybe you should, too.

As impossible as it is to think that any heritage basketball shoe hasn’t got its due props in retro life, the truth is the Flight 89 undoubtably has. It’s came back in OG colorways, it’s received the NikeLab treatment, it’s gotten gross made for mall makeups, heck it’s even been on NIKEiD. Still, it isn’t enough.

The Nike Air Flight 89 is as close to a perfect basketball shoe as it gets. Looking just as good on the court as off the court while not losing any functional ground in either sense, the model has made waves in every orientation of its rebirth with the shiniest pair ironically not getting enough shine.

Yes, the patent leather retros from the turn of the century.

Gilbert Arenas in the Nike Air Flight 89

For those that’d been bling blingin’, patent leather Flight 89 retros revived a golden era of hoops for old heads while introducing the Ron Harper wear to a younger generation of post-shiny suit, AND1 mixtape obsessed hoopers. The model was donned on court by high school phenom Dajuan Wagner in the pages of SLAM while White Chocolate himself rocked a patent pair in an NBA game. Just the same, Agent Zero kept them alive during his college days in Tuscon. Simply put, this was a flashy shoe for flashy players.

For buyers, this was a shoe that spoke to older days of consumption. To get a pair of patent Flight 89s at the mall you were copping them from Sibley’s Shoes or maybe Champs or Footaction. Online, ShoeTrends.com had every flavor in any size for those looking to spend some Christmas cash or shine in the summer.

A jiggier foil to Dunks and even Air Force 1s of the era, the patent leather Flight 89 played off the same Be True to Your School styles popularized by the eventual skate shoe while riffing off the contrast stitching that amplified the Uptowns. It’s hard to say who was the intended market for flashier Flight 89s as they probably pissed off purists, but they clearly had appeal to the casual sneakerhead who liked ‘classics’ before ‘retro’ was a word or the icier youth who couldn’t afford the same shine on rereleased Jordan 11s or the then-upcoming and perhaps overpriced Jordan 16s.

So, who would buy patent leather Flight 89s in 2018? Well, for starters, your boy right here. Aside from that, it’s tough to say. Running shoes and big visible tech are dominating the market right now, making it quiet for a minimal mid top to gain traction even with upgraded flash.

While Father Time has proven to look kindly on even the most loathed of ’90s trends, it’s still up for debate as to what from the 2000s will stick, let alone come back, circa its second run. For those looking to hoop in a hyped up hybrid retro, patent leather Pro Model 2Gs are probably a smarter play. With that said though, Flight 89s are definitely killing those off the court.

So, House of Hoops? Dr. Jays? Footaction? I’d say yes to all three. To make an event out of a shoe that wasn’t an event the first time around means there’s no reason over amplify or over invest. The hunt was the best part then and would be the best part now. Simply put, the patent Flight 89s were not for everyone. They were for the flashy folks too slender for Sheed Forces but too wavy for your run of the mill guard shoe. As flamboyant and tough as Big L himself, let’s show love to the summer hoops shoe with off court steeze before retro LeBrons totally come through and crush the building.

photo via R3VLimited

**Yes I know you can buy these for cheap right now off eBay, I have and they fall apart :(**

Lead image by j-dersch of eBay

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