History of the Nike Air Max

Written by Marc | 26/03/2017


Brand Focus


nike airIn honour of Nike Air Max Day 2017, we dug deeper into the evolution on the Nike Air Max line’s most popular shoes and how the signature visible air design has developed over the years.

Nike Air Max 1


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Developed by Mark Parker and designed by Tinker Hatfield, this is the shoe that dared to be different. In 1987, Nike released the Air Max 1 – a ground breaking design and the birth of ‘visible air’. This design was inspired by the architecture of Paris’ Pompidou Centre – a building that looks like it’s been sprung inside out, showcasing inner workings that are visible through its exterior.

Nike Air Max 90


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The third addition to the Air Max family, this trainer features a load more air than its predecessors. Born in 1990 (hence the name), the Air Max 90 took the world by storm – and not just for its comfort. This style also features subtler Nike branding, which allows for a stronger design and a bolder approach to colour. This is the trainer that helped Nike enter the fashion world.

Nike Air Max 180


Another Tinker Hatfield creation, the Air Max 180 shoe featured a revolutionary 180-degree visible air unit. To ensure the visible air-sole unit was the key recognisable element to this shoe, it was designed in white with the exception of the swoosh. The upper features an inner sleeve that stretches to match the shape of the foot – meaning ultimate, slipper-like comfort. Sadly, the Nike Air Max 180 is pretty rare nowadays – if you have a pair, hold them close and don’t let go.

Nike Air Max 93


With the focus now being on the beauty of design, Tinker Hatfield created the Air Max 93 shoe as an artistic celebration of air technology. This is the first Air Max to employ a top line bootie construction technique to improve comfort and fit, whilst a newly developed air unit made its debut. The air unit on this trainer wraps around the back of the shoe with 270-degrees of pure visible air – this was a game changers and the style quickly established itself as a footwear design classic.

Nike Air Max 95


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Some consider this the ugly duckling of the Air Max clan. It was the first style to feature visible air in the forefoot and a black midsole, which marks it out as something of an outsider. Legendary designer Sergio Lozano had his share of negative feedback during the development of this trainer – but the compartmentalised air with varying PSI units in the heel made the shoe an exceptional ride. This quirky design still continues to win diehard trainer fans over.

Nike Air Max 97


Inspired by Tokyo’s lightening-fast bullet trains, this design looks sharp and has a sense of fluidity to it. The Air Max 97 was designed by Christian Tresser and represented yet another ground-breaking moment in air technology with an air sole unit running the length of the entire shoe. This was the first air sole developed specifically for running, looking back to Nike’s inception as a company on the frontier of high performance footwear for runners.

Nike Air Max 360


Nike’s commitment to pushing innovation to new limits continues to this day with the Air Max 360. If you don’t think it’s possible to walk on air – think again. This trainer features 360-degrees of cushioning and a sole that includes minimal foam. This shoe offers athletes the smoothest and most durable ride ever created, thanks to the air unit that is visible from any angle.

You can shop your favourite Air Max style online at Mainline Menswear now.

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