3.26 | Air Max Day Part I: March 26 2015, 124 Comments


Nike Air Max was introduced to the world in 1987 originally designed by Tinker Hatfield, an architect designing shops and offices. In true architect fashion the inspiration for the AM1 was said to have come from a center in Paris (Le Centres George Pompidou), which is known for its “inside out” design. This “inside out” design is what Tinker had in mind when exposing the cushioning in the midsole and making it apart of not just the comfort & performance but the aesthetics of the shoe.


Le Centres George Pompidou, Paris

1987 | Air Max 1

The shoe that started it all was the Nike Air Max 1 also known as the Nike Air Max ’87. It was the first time a shoe ever showcased a visible air bubble. The original version of the AM1 combined suede and mesh with a vibrant red, white, and grey color combo. A leather version was released 1988 and it wasn’t until 1995 that the original suede/mesh combo returned.

In 2002, the Japanese retailer Atmos was one of the first to work with Nike to create their own version of the Air Max 1 combining the original silhouette with a classic safari print. This creative colorway definitely brought out all of the details of the ever-so-loved Air Max 1.


1989 | Air Max Light


The lighter yet sleek Air Max Light was released 2 years later in 1989. It was also known as Air Max II that highly resembled its predecessor.


1990 | Air Max 90


The Air Max III which some may debate is one of the most popular versions of the Air Max has become its own legend. The Air Max III wasn’t known as the Air Max 90 until 2000 when it was retroed.


1991 | Air Max 180


Consumers were blown away by the design of the Air Max released in 1991. How do you improve the Air Max trademark of the air bubble?? Make it visible beneath the midsole! And that’s exactly what was done on this 180 model which featured a 180 degree air unit. To make sure that this key feature was recognizable, the shoe was designed in all white with the exception of a few accent colors to put emphasis on this innovative design.


1991 | Air Max BW


Nike Air Max BW was released in 1991, BW standing for "Big Window", which brought more visibility and padding than ever before. The Air Max BW was originally released as part of the Nike International series. The OG colorway consisted of Persian Violet that has become its signature to date. Although created after the AM90 & AM180, the BW has definitely made its own mark in history.


1993 | Air Max 1993

With the release of the Nike Air Max 93 we go from 180 degrees of air technology to 270 degrees of air. It was also the introduction of the top line bootie to improve comfort and fit, which we now see in so many other shoes. This was something unique, no real tongue just the sockliner. The Air Max 93 was also the first model to have a colored air unit vs. the clear bubble that we were used to.


1995 | Air Max 95


Sergio Lozano was the designer here and the inspiration was said to have come from the human anatomy. It was the first to feature the Air Max cushioning system in both the heel and forefoot. This model was also the first Air Max to showcase the 3M reflective material and there have been over 150 colorways released. 


1997 |  Air Max 97

Built for speed, the Nike Air Max 97 resembles that of a Japanese bullet train. Designed by Christian Tresser, the air unit runs the entire length of the shoe and was initially more popular in Europe than in the US. The sole featured here was the first Air Sole developed specifically for running. The Air Max 97 continued the tradition started with the AM95 by including the 3M reflective material on the shoe.


2006 | Air Max 360

The vision of this 360 model was Nike's idea of “completely running on air”. With the Air unit being visible from all angles, the 360 has no foam, no midsole—just Nike Air.


2014 | Flyknit Air Max

We all have come to love flyknit! Its durable, ultralight, and fashionable. The Flyknit Nike Air Max is the most flexible max air unit yet.



Credit: Nike.com // Roundalia.com // Complex.com // Sneakernews.com // Kicksonfire.com // Nicekicks.com