The story behind the Nike Air Max 1 has been passed down from sneakerhead to sneakerhead for generations. It’s a tale of how an unlikely spark of inspiration became a global sports and style juggernaut, and a testament to Nike designers Tinker Hatfield and Mark Parker’s forward-thinking minds.
According to equally iconic Nike designer and resident Nike historian Wilson Smith, the Air Max 1’s visible window became a point of contention between Parker and Hatfield. During a recent trip to Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, Smith led us on a behind-the-scenes tour at DNA, the Department of Nike Archives, where the Swoosh keeps all its innovations hidden in an off-campus location.
There, we got a look at the one that started it all: An original pair of Air Max 1s from 1987. The shoe turns 30 this year, and Nike is celebrating with a retooled OG model that hits all the right notes older sneakerheads remember. How does it stack up? Take a look at these photos comparing the 2017 version to the 1987 original.
Over time, the Air Max 1 shape evolved to accommodate Nike’s newest technologies, from Hyperfuse, Lunarlon soles, to Flyknit uppers. This resulted in a bulkier toebox and an overall broader shape, which purists weren’t particularly fond of. So Tanner Marshall, Nike Sportswear’s Senior Product Line Manager, looked at remastering the Air Max 1 as a welcome challenge.
The Nike Sportswear team went to great lengths to recreate the original shoe. Caroline Fullerton, a Materials Designer at NSW, went so far as to examine the composition of the OG sneaker with a microscopic lens, paying an exquisite amount of attention to the smallest details.
As a result, the recrafted Air Max 1 silhouette consists of a tongue split in three pieces, and a retooled upper that hews perfectly to the original silhouette. The texture and finish are also perfected, as are the heel and collar height, mudguard, and colorway.
In addition to the OG red versions, Nike is also releasing classic blue and gray colorways. If only turning 30 could always be this awesome.
Here at Highsnobiety we’re throwing a month-long party to celebrate Air Max Day 2017, find out more here. For your chance to be featured on the site and our Instagram check out our Snobshots competition.