Nike Air Max is one of the most recognizable, long running, and innovative sneaker lines ever. Every year, the folks in Beaverton cook up a crazy combination of Air and whatever the flyest, craziest material known to man is into a shoe built for comfort, running, and being fresh.
The story began with the original Air Max in 1987, a shoe that has since inspired countless colorways, tech improvements, and looks. I mean, there’s no other sneaker that has it’s own holiday that sees everyone posting their favorite pairs. Tinker Hatfield designed a sneaker with an Air unit that left its wearer with the visible impression that they were literally running on air. Although Nike had been using Air in their shoes from the start, the days of Phylon and rubber soles were no more, and the frontier had been expanded. Since then, the sneaker evolved with the help of advances in footwear. In technical terms, nothing gets better than the Air Max series. That’s honestly where the appeal starts for a lot of buyers.
In 2006, Nike took the Air Max to the next level when they introduced “Air 360,” which featured a completely foamless Air unit throughout the entire sole of the shoe. That would shape the look of the models that came after and would ultimately be enhanced by other design implementations.
The materials used in the shoe vary from leather to Flywire and mesh. Of course, Nike Air is a huge part of the shoe, but they’ve also added Zoom Air and Lunar specs to the series over time. They make for great running shoes for those seeking that comfortable, pillow-like ride. Plus, if you’re just looking for a shoe to (pardon the pun) kick it in, it doesn’t get any better.
For many sneakerheads, the color combinations have been unbeatable. Since ’87, Nike has used Infrared, neon, and multi-colored setups. (The original Infrared 90 is one of the most beloved silhouettes ever released.) The Neon Air Max 95 (my personal favorite) recently saw a retro that was as close to the OG as one could get, right down to the box. Really, that’s how important these kicks are to collectors–the shape has to be perfect, and the color has to be as close to the original as possible. I’ve spent countless hours cleaning my History of Air Infrared 90s and after ten years, I can go in my closet right now and still pull them out and it will be lit. Air Maxes are simply a must-have for everyone looking for a versatile shoe that can be rocked with nearly any outfit.
I’ve always loved the Air Max series. I admitted the Air Max 95 was my favorite and that’s due to the aesthetics. For starters, I think there’s no greater material than mesh on a sneaker, and the mesh upper combined with the multicolored ribs creates a design that is difficult to beat. In fact, the shoe’s designer, Sergio Lozano, imagined a shoe that mirrored the human anatomy, and that’s why it is shaped the way it is. At the time it was the shoe of the b-boy, and as a hip-hop head I had to wear it. Nowadays, I find that most of my soccer jerseys match my AM95 pairs and it gives me more incentive to get these ‘fits off.
There’s not a longer lasting series of running sneakers that pushes the envelope in terms of design and inspiration. The Air Max 93 was created and inspired by plastic milk jugs. The Air Max 180 was ahead of its time from a technical standpoint in an attempt to give the runner an absolutely encapsulating feel in their heel. The rouse for the Air Max 97 was a Japanese bullet train; it was also the first shoe in the series to have a full-length Air sole. If you want forward-thinking design, you want Air Max.
The thing is, everyone loves Air Max and everyone has their personal favorite model and color–it’s all about personal style, yanno? The Air Max III, or Air Max 90, is still one of the most sought after models around, and after numerous retros it’s unlikely to go anywhere. Even with the retro pairs, Nike continues to update them with newer tech, so we’re seeing silhouettes from the early ’90s being laced with advanced Nike love from the year 2015. It’s like having a hybrid-electric ’66 Chevy Impala with navigation inside.
This holiday season, Champs Sports is launching exclusive colorways of the new Air Max 2016, and they couldn’t be more fire: black, white, and grey; blue and black; black and white; blue and purple; and orange and black. This year’s model features a sleeker, faster Swoosh placement at the forefoot, and Flyknit placement that is less apparent than in previous editions. The Air unit continues to be a staple to cushion your ride, so the Air Max 2016 should be cozier than ever.
It’s been almost 30 years since Nike and Tinker unveiled the Air Max 1 and yet the sneaker has, arguably, never been more popular.