Dave Ortiz has always been one to think differently. When the native New Yorker and graffiti writer opened up Dave’s Quality Meat in 2003, his butcher shop-inspired concept store was meant to cut through the hard edge associated with sneakers at the time.
“Everybody was too serious,” recalled Dave to Complex on the street culture scene in early 2000s NYC.
Dave’s irreverence and unique eye was quickly noticed by Nike, who in 2004 offered him the opportunity to design a sneaker. After months of creative block, Dave found his inspiration after an early morning craving for a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. All he had to do now was figure out the perfect silhouette to house his off-the-wall “Bacon” concept.
“I figured if we’re going to be on our feet all day, we might as well have a comfortable shoe,” Dave noted. “So for me, the Air Max 90 was perfect.”
Designed by the great Tinker Hatfield a decade and a half before Dave got his hands on them, the Nike Air Max 90 brought bolder color and tougher tech to the performance running category. Originally known as Air Max III, the shoe’s archival title played perfectly to Dave’s M3AT graffiti tag that inspired his butcher shop-themed store. Just the same, the shoe’s pink-leaning “Infrared” installment meshed well with the raw “Bacon” concept the former Zoo York skater stumbled on to.
“Either this is going to be really funny, or it’s going to be really wack,” recalled Dave on finalizing his off-kilter idea. “I liked those odds.”
Fortunately for Dave, Nike liked the bacon concept. In 2004, 48 pairs were cooked up and sold exclusively at Dave’s Quality Meat in NYC. Famously, the first batch of “Bacon” 90s were an in-store exclusive that only in-the-know locals were privy to. Complete with Boar’s Head boxes and random wear spots meant to mimic raw meat, Dave delivered a collab that was a cut above. Even so, the seminal serving didn’t sizzle.
The sneaker scene in New York at the time took itself way too seriously, so Dave’s “Bacon” Air Max 90 hyperstrike was a slow burn that sold out over the course of a couple days rather than a couple hours. But it wasn’t long before people started to catch on. In a matter of months, the shoes proved both era-defying and era-defining as a second batch of inline pairs were released in 2006 to long lines. Dave’s satire birthed the power of telling tales through trainers, greasing the wheels for the machine we now know as Nike collaborations.
Since Dave first went HAM with Nike, his breakfast bangers have been rehashed in the form of 2006’s Nike Air Max 95/360 “One Time Only” take and 2009’s Nike Air Max 90 Current. Still, both the hyperstrikes and inline piggy pairs break the bank when it comes to consignment. Simply put, finding a crispy pair of OG “Bacon” Air Max 90s is next to impossible.
Now, the time-tested “Bacon” is back just in time to celebrate Air Max Day 2021. Leather and suede styling pay homage to the 2004 heater cooked up by Ortiz and oozes with nostalgia and flavor that still creates cravings 17 years later.
Still hungry? Breakfast can wait, cop the coveted pair now on GOAT.