The Nike Air Max 1
The one that started it all – the Air Max 1 was a revolutionary design for Nike, as it was the first sneaker to reveal the air unit in the heel. Initially created as a running shoe, there’s not a sneaker fan today who won’t have a pair of Air Max 1 sitting proudly in their collection.
A trip to France was all designer Tinker Hatfield needed for the inspiration to create the AM1. Paris’ Center George Pompidou building had been created after its architects got the idea to turn a building inside out, and it was this way of thinking that resulted in the visible air unit in the Air Max 1 from Hatfield.
The air unit was placed in the heel of the Air Max 1 to create optimal support, and the sneakers were flexible and comfortable with good cushioning from the foam sole. The upper was made from mesh and suede.
Nike’s Air technology had actually existed for a while already. It was former NASA employee Frank Rudy that discovered how to place gas inside the soles of sneakers. The tech debuted in the 1978 Air Tailwind.
It was on March 26, 1987, when the first Air Max was officially released in the colorways ‘Sport Red’ and ‘Varsity Blue’. While it didn’t make much impact immediately, Nike put a lot of advertising budget behind the model and put the sneaker on stars such as Michael Jordan and tennis player John McEnroe. Marketing for the AM1 even featured the first and only time a Beatles recording (‘Revolution’) was used in an advert, something that caused a lot of controversy and ended in an out-of-court settlement. The overall campaign managed to gain the AM1 a lot of popularity.
Years of experimenting with the design and materials followed, never really taking off, when finally in the late 90s the design stabilised with leather, mesh and suede all used in the model.
The first collab on the AM1 was with Japanese brand Atmos, who, on the model’s 15th anniversary, put the famous Safari print on the mudguard and used an earthy orange colour scheme to round off the look. Their follow up product, the Air Max 1 ‘Elephant’, was released in 2007 and is recalled by many as the best Air Max colorway of all time. It was the first sneaker other than the Air Jordan 3 to use the elephant skin pattern, and had contrasting white leather, black suede and teal details.
In 2021 Amsterdam-based Patta staggered four Air Max 1 releases in a collection titled ‘The Wave’. Each sneaker was accompanied by a short film created by filmmaker Mahaneela in collaboration with director Steve McQueen, and the series embraced the themes of freedom, creativity, and inspiration. The design featured a wavy mudguard and appeared in colorways called the ‘Monarch’, ‘Aqua Noise’, ‘Rush Maroon’ and ‘Black’. Every iteration proved insanely popular, and the releases sold out immediately.
Air Max Day
To properly celebrate the history of the coveted model, the brand proclaimed that every March 26 was to become ‘Air Max Day’. New Air Max sneakers and limited-edition styles were released each year, kicking off with the Air Max 1 ‘Air Max Day 3.26’ in 2014 when it all started. The colorway put a new twist on the original AM1 with a bright yellow midsole and underside of the tongue.
Upon release, the AM1 can retail for anything from between €140 - €170.
Generally, the Air Max 1 does fit true to size.