Skip To Main Content

Every product is carefully selected by our editors and experts. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission. Learn more. For more information on how we test products, click here.

Nike air mowabb og birch 2021

Nike Air Mowabb Returns in Historic Fashion, So Why Aren’t Sneakerheads Happy?

Nike is celebrating the 30th anniversary of one of its most famous silhouettes, the Nike Air Mowabb. Bringing back the sneaker in OG Birch for the first time in over half a decade, and the Gravity Purple mockup for the first time since 1991. Official images have arrived ahead of their release date and it has All Conditions Gear (ACG) heads a little confused. Featuring similar design elements to the Nike Air Huarache that debuted the same year, the Mowabb adds a neoprene ankle collar and heel counter, designed for all conditions use. And for their release in 2021, Nike has added some key details that differ between that and the OG – and it’s causing some controversy. Let’s take a look.

Sneakerfanten 3
Image: @sneakerfanten

The History of the Nike Air Mowabb

The number one account for all things Nike ACG, @allconditionsclub broke it down via their Instagram stories, showcasing a number of details that differ from the OG pair. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of why the details matter, we’ll give you a little backstory on one of Nike’s most important models.

In a 2018 interview with SneakerFreaker, Tinker Hatfield – most known for his Air Max and Jordan silhouettes – gave us some of the only details behind the Mowabb. A shoe that combined his love for the outdoors and the technological prowess of the brand for the first time. He always preached that Nike is in the storytelling business rather than footwear manufacturing, going on to talk about how his personal experiences brought insights to Mowabb:

“There’s a culture around running that can drive you towards a solution – not just performance, but a style solution. And I think the same thing is true in the world of the outdoors. You can develop these visions in your head of understanding the sport, but it’s also about how people hang out, what they do in between playing the sport” said Hatfield.

You’ll also like:
Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet 16” is First Sneaker in New Nike Deal
The Outrageous Nike Air Max 90 ‘Cork’ Slide Has Already Sold Out

With a plan to design a “shoe like no other” the Air Mowabb was an experiment for Tinker to see exactly what he could get away with. “I had built up some clout from previous projects… Anybody can come along and just keep doing the same old stuff. That is not my nature or Nike’s” he said.

Image: Sneaker Freaker

As for the origin of the design, it was born from his personal trips to Mowabb. Where a number of Tinkers long time Nike friends would venture out into Moab and partake in extreme sports such as rock-climbing and mountain biking. In the end, the shoe would have to resemble an allrounder like never before, something you could hop over rocks in, and mountain bike for hours.

Based on the moccasins worn by the Native American tribes, the shoe features hits of speckle on the heel to resemble a literal salmon in the nearby Colorado River. In fact, the entire silhouette is designed to resemble the smooth and streamlined angle of a fish, while combining the conformed technical characteristics of a moccasin. It was an all-time silhouette, and Tinker describes it as the most influential ACG shoe ever to Sneaker Freaker;

“…it’s easy to say one of the crazier designs like the Mowabb. But it’s not like you could go into small-town USA or just anywhere in the world and see the Mowabb on the shelf. It was a shoe for people in the know, people who were interested in unique things,” he said.

Air mowabb differences

The New Design

It seems this is precisely why sneakerhead and ACG OG’s are a little disappointed in the upcoming release. Never a shoe “for the masses,” it was reserved for people in the know, and the new version detracts from the originals sleek – salmon-like – shape. We’ve listed the 6 ways the sneaker differs from the original model, including an image down below of the original for reference.

1. Toe Shape

Much like the Air Max 1’s of the mid-to-late 2010’s the latest Mowabb falls victim to the squared-off toebox trend. The sad thing is we know Nike is capable of achieving the perfectly slanted angle of the OG. Proving such on the latest Stussy x Huarache model as well as a handful of AM1’s.

2. Taper from Ankle to Toegaurd

The taper from ankle to toe guard falls victim to such squared off-angle as well. Mostly thanks to the widened collar, addition of pull tabs, and toe box shape the sneaker doesn’t convey that streamlined effect we loved from the OG.

3. Huarache Logo Badge is Not ‘OG’

The Huarache Logo that appears in the tongue area did not appear on the first Mowabb pairs to which these models pay homage too. Again, not the end of the world but it begs the question why? Many sneakerheads and collectors have been waiting to get their hands on an OG pair for 30-years.

4. Pull Tabs

We start to see a theme arise here with the addition of pull-tabs. The original pair was actually a tad tricky to get on foot. The Huarache style sock sleeve was tight, and combine that with the fact materials in the early 1990s were much better than the synthetic leathers and plastics we get today and the shoe would almost be impossible to get on foot without them.

5. Collar Width

The same goes for the wide collar. It’s an addition that’s likely necessary for ease of wear, and does it extend the needle from an innovation standpoint? Well, yes but why implement such innovation on an original colourway. Especially after releasing it for the first time in three decades.

6. Mini Swoosh

Adding a mini swoosh is so 2021, and while it differs from the original, we’re not that mad at it. In fact, if they wanted to update an OG to differ it – as they do with Jordan vs. Nike Air on Retro’s – maybe they should’ve just left it at the mini swoosh.

Sneakerfanten 2
Image: @sneakerfanten

Regardless of what they’ve changed, the sneaker is still a must cop for sneakerheads and the ACG community alike. The Gravity Purple colourway is likely going to be the most desirable as it hasn’t been released in 30-years, but the Birch is a classic. An inspiration for many shoes of today, including a number of Lebron basketball shoe colourways, the Mowabb is a must cop. Look for it to release at European retailers on August 1. The RRP for each pair is set at £145 GBP (approximately $200 USD).

Check it out

General FAQ

When did the Nike Air Mowabb first release?

The Nike Air Mowabb was released in 1991. It was a cross between the Wildwood and the Air Huarache. Designer Tinker Hatfield refers to it as 'the most influential Nike ACG shoe ever'.

When is the Nike Air Mowabb releasing?

The 2021 Nike Air Mowabb is releasing on August 1 in Europe. Expect the Australian and USA release dates to fall in the weeks just after.

You’ll also like:
Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet 16” is First Sneaker in New Nike Deal
The Outrageous Nike Air Max 90 ‘Cork’ Slide Has Already Sold Out