Australia Style

Aussie DJ and Sneakerhead YO! MAFIA on Her Long Running Nike Air Max Obsession

Sneakerhead Christmas is nearly upon us! This March 26, Nike will again be celebrating Air Max day, all in the name of the label’s most iconic sneaker, the Air Max.

With its game-changing visible air bubble, the Air Max defined a new era in style and since its release on March 26 1987, it continues to captivate generations of sneaker enthusiasts the world over.

One such fan is Aussie DJ, music geek and sneakerhead YO! MAFIA, who is a proud Air Max Day ambassador as part of Nike’s Month of Max. YO! MAFIA has been combining her love of 80s/90s hip-hop and style for the past 15 years, bringing her unique flavour to the decks while touring with some of the biggest names in music, including Stevie Wonder.

In honour of the Air Max’s 30th anniversary, we caught up with YO! MAFIA to chat style, inspiration and the Air Max that started it all.

What started your sneaker collecting? Was there a feature or design that sparked it all?

YO! MAFIA: I’ve been infamously shouting out the 1985 movie Breakin’ for sowing the seeds of my crazy obsession. I will never forget Boogaloo Shrimp, aka Turbo, break dancing with a broom in his very own feature scene that was complimented by constant money shots of his Nike All Court Highs. I had never seen anything like those kicks before and set out on a desperate plea to find them (at 12 years old) – pretty unusual for a young Greek girl that was never allowed to wear sneakers. I found them in a mom and pop store in Adelaide of all places, while shopping with my dad at the Central Market (which, just like the OG Air Max 1s, still exists even bigger and better to this day!). I was super fortunate that my dad bought me that pair, knowing full well my mum would crack it when we got home!

Do you have certain sneakers that reflect or match the mood you’re in?

YO! MAFIA: I guess as I get older it’s completely all about comfort for me, so the more comfortable the shoe, the higher the chance I’ll keep wearing it every day. There’s nothing worse than wearing a pair of kicks that are blistering your ankles or completely killing your soles (and soul).

How do you express yourself through sneakers?

YO! MAFIA: I think I’m so known for being a sneakerhead now that I constantly have people look down at my feet before they even say hi to me – but that pressure to have the best and hardest to find sneaker is no longer what drives my passion. As I said it’s all about comfort, so I guess I just try and express an aura of coziness these days.

Your style is so unique, how do you go about picking your outfit for the day?

YO! MAFIA: I’ve toned down my style hugely over the years – I guess we can blame getting older for that too. I used to be about colour blocking to the point of looking like a clown. These days I’m a walking Melbourne cliché in mostly black clothing and a colour pop in my jacket. I definitely start with the shoes, though, and it’s all up from there!

Female sneakerheads are well and truly on the scene, whose style are you liking and why?

YO! MAFIA: I don’t really focus on anyone’s style at all, to be honest. I know what I feel comfortable in and what makes me feel rad, so I just stick with that. There are some rad chicks out there playing with fashion in a way I never could, as I don’t ever wear female clothing, so I generally look to the guys for fashion inspo, if anything.

What was your first pair of Nike Air Max?

YO! MAFIA: 1987 – The Air Max 87 Red/White.

What do you love about the Air Max OG (the original Air Max released in 1987)?

YO! MAFIA: It was one of the first pairs of kicks I had, so it will be forever in my heart. It started with the All Court High in 1985, then I was fortunate to get an OG pair of Jordan 1s (which I still have), then in 1987 the game changed and I had to have the OG Red/White colourway of the AM1. You have to understand, back in 1985 when I got my very first pair of All Courts I really wanted the Red/White colourway but only the Blue/White was available in small sizes. I dreamed of having just ONE pair of Red/White Nike’s in my life for so long, then a friend of ours went overseas and found me a pair. I cherished that pair like no one’s business, but I thrashed the hell out of them. So I’ve been fiending for another pair for the longest time! It seems so full circle to be here 30 years later representing the Anniversary Air Max OG.

You can find out more about Air Max Month here