Fabs’ Footwear Forecast is Highsnobiety Footwear Editor Fabian Gorsler’s monthly column that digs deeper into the biggest storylines, trends, and happenings across the global, multi-billion dollar sneaker industry.
The Nike Dunk’s dominance over the past two years has been well documented. Thanks to clever influencer marketing, a fool-proof collaboration strategy, and consistent releases, the Dunk became the sneaker of the moment. SB and non-SB releases alike were flying off shelves, reselling for exorbitant amounts, and top of everyone’s must-cop list come the weekend.
But after two years of Dunk mania, Dunk fatigue is slowly but surely setting in across the industry. This is not only underlined by the sheer volume of Dunks that are released every week, but by StockX resale data, which is a good marker for the popularity and hype of sneakers. The average resale price of Nike Dunks on StockX fell from over $400 to just over $200 from April 2020 to April 2021. Higher levels of stock and a higher release volume have resulted in Dunk fatigue and subsequent falling resale prices for newer releases.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s nice that people who weren’t able to get the earlier releases are now able to get their hands on the more widely available general releases, but the sneaker community is crying out for a new “it-sneaker.”
I believe that new it-sneaker/sneaker of the year/sneaker of the moment (or whatever you want to call it) will be the Nike Air Max 1. All stars are aligning for the Air Max 1 to have a huge 2022 and there are similarities to the Dunk as to how Nike is teeing up the era of the Air Max 1.
Firstly, the Nike Air Max 1 is one of Nike’s most iconic sneakers ever. Similar to the Dunk, it has a long and storied history. Originally released in 1987, the Air Max 1 was designed by Tinker Hatfield and kick-started the Air Max lineage, which has spawned some of the Swoosh’s most popular creations.
Next year will be the silhouette’s 35th anniversary, while the Dunk celebrated its 35th in 2020. Nike is known for showing huge love to its most influential models whenever it gets even the slightest chance to, therefore I expect the AM1’s anniversary to be big and drawn out, much like how the Dunk’s celebrations technically started in 2019 and reached into 2021.
Nike has already started inserting the Air Max 1 into the consciousness of sneakerheads through collaborations and special releases. Last year, the Nike Air Max 1 “Powerwall“ pack was brought back to much acclaim. Denham was also tapped to collaborate on an (underrated) pair in 2020, while CLOT co-founder Edison Chen and fragment design’s Hiroshi Fujiwara both teased unreleased Air Max 1s.
That very early start mirrored the way in which Travis Scott was used to push the Nike Dunk, as he was often seen wearing vintage and OG Nike Dunks on Instagram. This started as far back as in 2018, but became more obvious in 2019 as every single Travis Scott Instagram fit pic featured a grail-level Dunk.
This year, we’ve seen the Cactus Jack founder rocking his own Air Max 1 collaboration, which is rumored to drop during the holiday season in as many as five colorways. Scott’s direct co-sign of the silhouette speaks volumes, as he’s Nike’s biggest celebrity endorser, and most things he touches turn to gold. The rapper collaborating on one of the most iconic silhouettes is basically Nike printing money.
In addition, we’ve seen a re-release of CLOT’s much-loved Kiss of Death Air Max 1 this year, as well as an alternate colorway. Dutch streetwear stalwart Patta is also lining up a pair of Nike Air Max 1s (my favorite of the bunch), which feature a slightly altered mudguard that looks like a wave and is where the project gets its name.
All in all, the timeline and the way Nike is rolling out its Air Max 1 projects is almost identical to that of the Dunk, and we all know how that went. I would venture so far as to say that the Air Max 1 has even more cultural currency than the Dunk had before its grand relaunch. Both silhouettes had multiple golden eras in the past, are deeply ingrained in the Swoosh DNA, and are some of the most wearable sneakers around.
Don’t be surprised when Nike Air Max 1 drops dominate release calendars in 2022. Before then, though, we have the Patta and Travis Scott projects to look forward to.
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