We celebrate “Air Max Day” with 13 classic Air Max 1 sneakers up close.
Released on March 26, 1987, the original Nike Air Max 1 brought a revolution in sneaker design, birthing an entire culture in its wake. With cushioning designed by engineer Frank Rudy and the silhouette created by Tinker Hatfield, before being carried forward by then-designer Mark Parker, hundreds of unique colorways, collaborations and variations have been released since then, with the latest designed exclusively for this occasion.
In celebration of “Air Max Day,” we captured classic Air Max 1 sneakers up close. Celebrate “Air Max Day” with us by sharing your favorite pair of #AIRMAX and take a look at all 13 kicks with descriptions below. Afterwards, check out the 27 best Air Max models of all time as curated by Patta’s Masta Lee and illustrated by Dan Freebairn of KickPosters.com.
OG Leather SC – 1997
A premium version of the original silhouette released 10 years earlier, the leather upper set off by Varsity Red accenting hints at the sneaker’s future lifestyle use. One of the most oft-repeated colorways, the palette has been seen through nearly every season since its introduction.
OG Mesh “McFly” – 1999
As the ﬁrst Air Max 1 featuring black, the “McFly” is noted for the use of dark color along with the mesh/suede upper. Nowadays, the shoe is revered for its shape, before the change that would occur in 2005.
Sport Red – 2003
One of the few women’s sneakers that made it on men’s feet, the Air Max 1 Sport Red was designed for Nike’s female customers and was released in 2003. The sneaker is easily one of the cleanest and sleekest colorways ever made, with an all-leather upper, complemented by grey and red accents.
Grape – 2004
The Air Max 1 “Grape” was exceptionally underrated when it released in 2004. Today, however, the sneaker is revered for being one of the few colorways that features the mini Swoosh.
Kidrobot – 2005
Sold exclusively at Barneys New York, this pair done in collaboration with toy producer and retailer Kidrobot. The black, gold and pink colorway was designed by Paul Budnitz and Chad Phillips of Kidrobot to match the exterior of Kidrobot’s 1986 Maserati Quattroporte III Royale. When the shoe was released, each pair came packaged in a specially-designed gold and pink box alongside a mini Kidrobot keychain.
Powerwall Tier Zero “Morning Glory” – 2005
Released as part of the Powerwall/3 Decades of Cushioning collection, this Tier Zero pair became an instant classic thanks to its subtly textured black upper set against a bright pink midsole.
Supreme Animal Pack – 2006
Perhaps the most coveted Air Max 1 on this list, the 2006 collaboration between Nike and Japanese sneaker retailer atmos featured different textured animal prints throughout the upper. Coveted by sneakerheads immediately upon their release, the pair gained even prestige lust after being worn by Kanye West during his 2007 Super Bowl performance.
Ben Drury “Hold Tight” – 2006
UK-based designer Ben Drury had already worked with Nike Sportswear in 2006 as part of their Tier Zero “Air U Breathe” pack before collaborating with Beaverton behemoth on the “Hold Tight.” Drury’s Air Max 1 design was inspired by London’s pirate radio scene and featured a 3M reflective mudguard with black premium leather. Pulsar stitch detailing was seen on the heel as well as the custom insole, paying homage to the signals of radio transmissions, a common theme in all of the artist’s work. In addition to the sneakers, each pair came accompanied with a matching T-shirt, bag and Windrunner jacket.
Premium Beast – 2007
Another pair featuring an animal-inspired print, the Premium Beast featured a leather and suede upper atop a crisp white sole. The result is one of Nike’s more balanced yet still striking colorways to make use of a leopard print.
Premium atmos – 2007
Using Nike’s iconic elephant print, atmos opted for a contrasting upper set off by a jade Swoosh surrounded by black suede. Despite being released seven years ago, the colorway continues to look fresh thanks in large part to Nike’s continued use of both the elephant print and jade coloring.
Grey Safari – 2008
Perhaps too over the top for some, the Grey Safari featured a nubuck suede upper outfitted with a contrasting allover print. A black collar and grey toe box complete this rendition of Nike’s famed Air Max 1.
Patta – 2009
The fourth collaboration between Amsterdam’s Patta and Nike, this model was designed to celebrate the retailer’s fifth anniversary. The collaborative kick came in a Dark Obsidian/Team Green-Concord-Sport Red colorway and featured denim, corduroy and suede along the upper.
Parra x Patta – 2010
Done in collaboration with two Dutch streetwear imprints, brand Patta and artist Parra, only 200 pairs of this colorful combination were produced. A burgundy offer was complemented by baby blue detailing all set atop a multi-colored outsole.
- Photography: Julia Schoierer