Tuned Plus, TN, Air Max Plus, whatever you want to nickname this iconic nike silhouette, there is one thing you could never take away from it. For decades it has redefined subcultures across the globe, stamping on the selections of trainers other companies attempted to rival them with. The raucous, unrivalled colour ways Nike continue to drop have made road-men, ravers, and runners drool for years now, but never did Sean McDowell anticipate the response he has received from his most profound creation.
Like all of Nike’s most majestic creps, they were made with athleticism in mind. Whether you are trapping on road, skanking in a rave, or running the London marathon, you need to look wavy and feel comfortable. The sublimated fabric fade that graces the upper of the shoe was revolutionary as far as trainers go; many subcultures took to this far from traditional aesthetic as a way to distance themselves from the clutches of normality and the mainstream. In England, the thriving late 90s/early 2000s grime and garage scene worshipped the TN, matching their Moschino jeans and Avirex leathers to the outrageous colour ways Nike were stacking the shelves with.
Sean McDowell remembers admiring the Florida sunsets and striking palm trees when drawing the initial designs for the Air Max Plus. The lateral design captured the unique shape of palm trees, whilst the OG colour ways capsulated the alluring tones of the skyline, giving the crepe those effortlessly exotic inflections. The shoe was by no means easy to create, they have to be welded in three separate areas, and the original TN factory thought it would be impossible to do so. McDowell pleaded, knowing his pitch to Footlocker was only days away, and he needed a sample to sell to them. The many barriers that Nike had to overcome for the creation of the crep, is one of the many reasons it seems so anarchic; the thuggish, Australian ‘Nike Bikies’ effortlessly transcended rebellion, with this trainer at the centre of their style and riotous personalities.
Footlocker realised the only way they would know if the shoe was going to be popular, was if they stacked it on the shelf. When McDowell came to pitch his invention, they put it out at their primetime, just after the nearest high schools shut and the flurry of teenagers would dash into the doors. The shoe initiated an inevitable intrigue; the infatuation from the children startled the Footlocker representatives, and gave McDowell a huge feeling of gratification.
When grime and garage raves started kicking off in England, the TN wiped out loafer wearing, Cockney Italian wannabes in their loafers and greeted multicultural ravers to the forefront of British youth culture. Paris has always been a fan of the Tuned Airs too; even though it was continually oppressed by mainstream society around the world. Communities in Australia disregarded them as a ‘Prison Shoe’, which is one of the many reasons the Bikies warmed towards them, making them a commodity of suburban dreamers and inner city ravers.
As part of their anniversary, the Tuned Plus’ have come back to Footlocker in 3 different colour ways, including the Hyper Blues and Tiger Oranges - some of the choice pairs of the Actors in the British Comedy ‘People Just Do Nothing’. Slowthai is heading the campaign, appearing in beautifully crafted and incredibly authentic adverts, which must have popped up on your Instagram recently. The silhouette has always been described as ‘experimental’, and this could be the reason it is loved by some of the most creative and artistic people in the world. The subtle branding makes it an anti-christ of Nike invention, but yet it has beaten some of the most prestigious of Nike silhouettes in sales. Now coming as hybrids with other iconic models, like the 97s, they are a must have for any trainer collectors shoe rack.