Nike Air Max

EstablishedReleased: 1987
HQBrand: Nike
FounderCreator: M Frank Rudy
Creative DirectorDesigner: Tinker Hatfield

Nike first released the revolutionary Air Max sneaker in 1987. The Air Max 1 was the first shoe to have the new ‘air cushioning’ technology on full display – with a large bubble of air at the heel, visible from the side of the midsole in most subsequent models. The style was famously inspired by Hatfield’s trip to the Pompidou centre in Paris, France. Landing with a bang in the form of the iconic television advert featuring the Beatles’ ‘Revolution’ – the Nike Air Max became the ignition for a generation of sneakerheads, determined to keep up to date with the latest technology and styles. The air technology continues to be developed, with older styles released continually with upgraded colorways and collaborations. Nike Air Max Timeline 1987 – Nike releases the Air Max 1, its first shoe with a visible air bubble. The sneaker is designed by Tinker Hatfield – to both perform on the court and look good on the street and boasted an ad campaign (accidentally) fronted by John McEnroe. Air Max becomes one of Nike’s biggest lines, spawning the Air Max 90, Air Max 95, and Air Max 97, among countless others. 1989 – Air Max II is released with the midsole replaced with EVA foam, making it lighter than its predecessor. Re-released in 2007, Nike has continued to develop additional colorways of this style. 1990 – Originally known as the Air Max III until its 2000 re-release, the Nike Air Max 90 lands – with hip-hop and Britpop helping sportswear make its move into streetwear, and with it the sneaker. The shoe boasts an even bigger air pocket than previous designs. A bold red colorway (later known as infra-red) draws some serious attention. 1993 – The Air Max 93 drops, with a 270 degree Air unit earning it the moniker Air Max 270. It came with yet more “air”, with the visible air unit extending to the back of the heel. It was the first to feature a fully visible air unit from both the back and side. 1995 – Air Max 95 is released, bringing with it a shake up of the Air Max line. The signature giant tick is replaced with a subtle swoosh, and air units are included at the forefoot. A layered upper inspired by the human anatomy boasts a cool grey and bright neon yellow pop of color – which is still coveted today. The design continues to appear in Nike’s drops to this day. 1997 – Originally thought to be inspired by Japanese bullet trains, the Air Max 97 appeared as a ‘silver bullet’ style design – with a rippled layered upper. Later, it came to light from designer Christian Tresser that the upper was in fact representative of ripples of water in a pond. The 97 style debuted the full length air unit and is still still seen today with a new “Neon Seoul” colorway announced as part of Nike’s 2019 drop. 2003 – This year boasts the first major Air Max change since the 97 debut of the full length air unit. The new design boasts a carbon-based fiber upper, while maintaining the full length bubble. 2006 – Almost 20 years in the making, Nike finally delivers 360 degree air on the Air Max 360. Known perhaps more for its technological revolution than its style – the company paid homage to its journey with a red and white colourway inspired by the original Air Max 1. 2013 –With Flyknit technology released just a year prior, Nike add the coveted Air technology to its new running revolution. A sock like upper combined with a 360 air bubble become a staple for the sneaker giant’s future Air endeavors. 2017 – Nike release the VaporMax. By combining a brand new Air Max sole and Flyknit upper it becomes one of their most important technological advances of the decade. It makes its name as the lightest Air Max to date, receiving a 2019 casual-use focused update on colorways. 2019 – Nike introduces 720 degrees of air cushioning, but this time not for sport. The Air Max 720 lands as a shoe designed specifically “for steps not strides” with the air unit visible both horizontally and vertically. The original colorway is inspired by the Northern Lights. When Is Nike Air Max Day? Occurring annually on March 26, Nike Air Max Day is a celebration of all things Air Max. Started in 2014 the day celebrates the shoe, as well as often marking the release of new models. In 2019, Nike announced it was switching things up with its “Give Fresh Air” campaign – choosing not to announce any new styles or releases but instead encouraging a change in the sneaker community, urging fans to donate new and gently worn sneakers to partner retailers in the United States and Canada.