Talk about a dose of bling to ease into fall. As part of the big 20th Anniversary celebrations of the Air Max 97, Nike has once again teamed up with Swarovski for a flashy new iteration, lavishly encrusted with micro crystals - the Air Max 97 LX Silver Bullet “Swarovski.”

But let’s put things into perspective. Two decades ago, Nike introduced a silver shoe inspired by the industrial finish on mountain bikes — the Air Max 97. It offered full reflectivity, enhanced by low light or via a camera flash. A gold colorway introduced two years later further cemented the idea of metallic shine as key to the silhouette’s legacy and aesthetic.

Further tapping into the concept, NikeWomen designers turned to crystal pioneer and powerhouse, Swarovski, and its Crystal Fabric, to embellish the new Air Max 97. Enriched with tiny, densely clustered cut and uncut crystals, the fabric offers a gleaming yet gritty look, perfect for a new expression of the original shine.

During a trip to the Swarovski headquarters in Wattens, Austria, the NikeWomen Color and Material teams received rare access to the company archives, learning about the 12-year research required to develop the sustainable Advanced Crystal formula and its Crystal Fabric.

 “This was such an exciting project in terms of material innovation,” says Marie Crow, Nike Material Design Director for NikeWomen Sportswear. “We were looking to explore shine and durability in a new and innovative way, and we loved the juxtaposition of the Crystal Fabric’s tough sparkle to reinvent an already iconic shoe.”

Applied through a heat fusing process, without any stitching, the fabric wraps around the waves of the 97 with meticulous precision. In movement, the crystals refract light with a bright, shimmering effect. The Air Max 97 LX with Swarovski crystals marks the first time NikeWomen has used Swarovski crystals on a shoe, as well as the first time Nike has fused precious material onto the Air Max 97.

"Swarovski has a proud heritage of innovation and creative collaboration,” says Markus Langes-Swarovski, Swarovski Executive Board member. “We were delighted to partner with Nike to create this unique design. The Air Max 97 is a truly iconic 360-degree silhouette that has inspired us to imagine what might happen when speed meets light."