For all of you sneakerheads out there, you will be well aware that the 26th of March marks a very important day for the culture. Back in 2014, Nike announced a day dedicated to arguably one of the most influential line of kicks ever created, the Air Max. Six years on, Air Max Day has grown year on year, becoming the undeniable date spent reflecting and paying homage to the forever loved air bubble. If you’re here to reminisce or if you’re brand new to the sneaker world, no sweat, we got you covered. Keep reading for our rundown of the seven most essential Air Max silhouettes.
The Air Max 1
Let me kick off this one by saying that it would be criminal to not include this shoe in this list. Since 1987 this style has held it’s own as one of the most popular sneakers ever made, even attracting fans that house collections of this shoe alone. The Air Max 1 was created by the legend that is Tinker Hatfield, one of Nike’s most prolific designers and was the first ever sneaker to feature “a window into the sole.”‘ In the same year of it’s creation, the AM1 also featured at the centre of the companies first ever major TV campaign.
The Air Max 95
The Air Max 95 has previously been classified as the ‘go to roadman crep’. Although we definitely still see these kicks on road, this label got abandoned a few years back. Incase you didn’t clock from the name of these trainers, they were first dropped in 1995. Designed by Sergio Lozano, the AM95 was created in order to recapture the consumers focus from basketball sneakers, as they were dominating the market in the 90’s. The theme behind the concept of this shoe is more detailed and thought out than you might have known. “I was looking across the lake out into the trees and I began picturing the process of rain eroding the earth and thought it would be interesting if the perfect product was unearthed by erosion,” said Lorenzo to Hypebeast in 2015. To add to this, other parts of this sneaker took influence from human anatomy, with panels resembling muscle fibres and a midsole that follows the structure of the human spine.
The Air Max 90
1990 saw the release of the Air Max III, Or the Air Max 90 as we know it by. The reason behind the name change for this style was that it was originally named the Air Max III upon release, however it was renamed when it was ‘retro’d’ back in 2000. This kick is also looked on as another urban favourite. The AM90’s silhouette was also a creation lead by Tinker Hatfield and was the follow up release after the hugely successful Air Max 1. Efforts to evolve the model from it’s predecessor included influence from Nike’s Jordan sneakers, with use of more parts constructing the upper, a bigger air unit that created more height to the shoe and a more complex lacing locking system that gave more freedom to adapt the wearers lacing style.
The Air Max 97
Continuing the theme, the Air Max 97 was released in the same year as it’s title. Christian Tresser, who was a senior in Nike’s footwear design team lead the creation on this one. The AM97 was more expensive than the previous AM models, as it retailed at $150. That might not sound like a lot right now, but that is the equivalent to just under $250 in todays worth and the footwear market back then was no where near as developed as it is today. Nature took the lead with it’s impact on this design, as the upper is takes inspiration from rippling water. “The nature of it was water dropping into a pond. The water would drop and radiate out to the Air unit.” In contrast, the most iconic colour way of this model, the ‘silver bullet’ has design aspects that nod towards Japan’s bullet trains.
The Air Max 98
Adding the second Air Max to his resume, Sergio Lozano lead the design for the Air Max 98. This sneaker is often spoken of as one of the most underrated AM styles. When it first released, the AM98 had a harder time than the previous Air Max models and was considered a flop. Closely following the AM97, the Air Max 98‘s air bubble unit had the the same size and appearance, as well as retailing at the same high price point. These might be some of the reasons as to why it wasn’t an instant success. This shoe was also brought back as a retro in 2000, with some more exciting colour ways that brought some more attention to the silhouette. In 2016 Nike collaborated with the ever hyped Supreme for three very different variations of the model and in 2018 the OG ‘Gundam’ colour way got a re-release. These later releases had a much bigger reaction from consumers, leading many to believe that this sneaker was way ahead of it’s time.
The Air VaporMax
The Air VaporMax is one of the youngest models to hit the list at only three years old. 2017 saw the release of possibly the biggest visual change to the Air Max series. Created with a completely flyknit, mesh upper, this shoe is designed to feel feather light and to look as if the wearer is floating. The process of bringing this crep to market followed one of the longest journeys of all the Air Max models, as it took seven years from design to sale, with at leats 15 attempts made at getting the shoe right. The VaporMax got a warm reception from consumers and despite the high price point on release, £170 in the UK. It sold out in multiple colour ways rapidly.
The Air Max 1/97 Wotherspoon
Released in conjunction with Air Max Day in 2018, the Air Max 1/97 Wotherspoon is regarded by many sneakerheads as arguably one of the best Nike silhouettes in history. Combining the upper Air Max 97s and the midsoles of Air Max 1s, this colourful, limited edition trainer was designed by Sean Wotherspoon who won Nike’s ‘Revolution Air’ competition in which artists were tasked with putting their designs forward to the brand. With both Air Max 97s and Air Max 1s being iconic Nike silhouettes, it comes as no surprise that Wotherspoon’s bright, corduroy fusion of both trainers is loved by many around the world.
That concludes our rundown of the seven most essential Air Max Silhouettes. What a legacy Nike has created with these iconic styles. It’s unclear what direction these kicks will head in going forward, but what we do know is that these styles will always be heavy culture favourites. We wish you a happy Air Max Day for this year, and for many more to come.
If you missed it, We look back at how the Air Max trainer became so culturally iconic in our piece right here.