Even for a huge brand like Nike, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. There are definitely bumps in the road and this well-known brand had some fair share of challenges, yet its difference with those who have sunk down amidst the tides is that Nike never backed down. One particular example is the emergence of the Air Max at a time Nike needed a push—and it proved to be an effective one, even lasting until this very day.
Everywhere you look—TV ads, magazines, billboards, sports shows, malls—Nike Air is practically everywhere. It has amassed a lot of models, designs and versions that it has become like another brand on its own, with unique styles that are easily recognizable to be the Air Max signatures.
Nike Air Max Reviews
Air Max origins
The Air Max stemmed from one of the greatest decision of the Nike management: hiring Tinker Hatfield back in 1981. It was long before the brand became the giant label it is today, and Hatfield was still a corporate architect that worked on the brand’s building designs for its Oregon campus. Four years after working for the company, Hatfield found himself designing footwear for the brand by drawing inspiration from his architectural background. Hatfield started a new type of design for the brand, almost rebellious in their look and style and far from the usual design brief of the entire brand.
The great thing about the creation of the Air Max design is that it wasn’t made out of a fashion concept or inspired by another sneaker—it appeared in Hatfield’s mind because of a building. It wasn’t that much of a majestic building as well, some people even think of it as an eyesore. We’re talking about the Pompidou Center with the “inside-out” design, which features more of the internal structure actually serving as the exterior look of the building. Hence, when the conceptualization of the Air Max design commenced, Hatfield thought of making the insides of the pair visible, just like that building in Paris.
The amazing Air Max technology
Hatfield wasn’t keen on just creating a beautifully designed pair; it has to perform impressively as well. Hence, aside from the captivating colorway, the Air Max 1 features the midsole cutout, revolutionary design that showcases “visible air”, and the airsole unit with the Nike Air Technology, making it a complete package of high-performance and highly remarkable pair of shoes.
The Air Max 1 indeed had a revolutionary design, but the Air technology it used wasn’t exactly created by the brand from scratch. Frank Rudy, a former NASA engineer, invented it and applied it on the Air Tailwind as a replacement for the gas-filled urethane pouches of the traditional EVA soles. But Hatfield made everything fit in place when he found a solution for the issue about the pouches not being seen and just felt. Through the addition of Air Cushioning in the shoes’ midsoles, Air Maxx was able to set a higher level of performance for athletic shoes.
It wasn’t easily accepted by everyone, though. Hatfield himself mentioned that people tried to get him and his team fired, as people believed that they had gone too far with the Air Max designs. But with his confidence in his design, Hatfield challenged all those against the Air Max. Luckily, he had the support of Nike’s Director of Cushioning Innovation, David Forland. It was a great call for both of them, now knowing that the Air Max has a lasting and lingering positive impact in the shoes industry.
Best Air Max models
The success of the for Air Max led to a series of new Air Max models, all giving additional traction to the image and fame of the Nike Air Max. There are many models that people looked forward to, athletes wore to their best games, celebrities showcased to paparazzi’s, and collectors added to their entire closet of pairs. With the numerous choices among all Air Max pairs, there are some that really stood out and surfaced as the best among everything.
Of course the Nike Air Max 1 should get the first mention, the pioneer of the visible Air unit. It started a whole shoe revolution with Hatfield leading the design brain. More than 30 years after its release, it still can stand against any sneaker with its timeless design and great performance. Another great pair is the Nike Air Max 95 or the Air Total Max, a recognizable model among the Air Max shoes. It was designed by Sergio Lozano in 1995, embodying the human anatomy representation. (Fun-and-kinda-weird fact: the Air Max 95 is the top footwear choice for criminals.)
The Nike Air Max 90 or the Air Max III was originally released in 1990 and re-launched with a design update in 2000. This pair has distinct features that include a synthetic suede, and Duromesh, the TPU panel covering the air bubble. This pair also has an amazing infrared colorway and high-quality materials that fully captivated sneaker enthusiasts all around the world.
Another pair with great features putting it among the great Air Max shoes is the Air Max 97, a model that pioneered the use of Air cushioning at full length. This design led other Air Max shoes to adopt the same feature too, such as the Air Max 24/7. In 1991, another great pair came out of the great Air Max team: the Nike Air Max 180. The Air Max 180 was revolutionary because of the added 50% of air and changing the traditional sole into a clear one.
The Air Max Day
The greatness of the Air Max shoes weren’t celebrated minimally, as Nike dedicated a whole day to celebrate the Air Max. In March 26, 2014, the first Air Max Day happened, and it was celebrated on the same date every year after that. In 2014, the Air Max Day was made even more exciting with the special release of the Air Max 1 “Air Max Day,” a limited edition pair that started the tradition of releasing new Air Max shoes yearly on Air Max Day.
All shoe lovers, enthusiasts and Nike fans always look forward to the Air Max Day, especially as Nike release a lot of teasers leading up to that day. The most recent Air Max Day 2018 has proven to be one of the most exciting ones, with the release of many new pairs including the classic Air Max 97 in “Japan” and “Silver Bullet” colorways, the OFF-White Vapormax new designs, and the new Air Max 270.