The Illustrious Air Max 1

Built by athletes for athletes, since its humble begins as Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike has always focused on pushing the levels of performance for its athletes.

This focus on innovation ultimately lead to the pivotal design that spearheaded Nike’s journey to the market powerhouse it is today. I am of course talking about the illustrious Air Max 1.

30 years on, the Nike Air Max sits at the pantheon of sneaker design and has seen countless renditions made to the original silhouette. We take a look at some of the best Air Max 1 collaborations over time, from Japanese retailer ‘Atmos’ to Dutch artist ‘Parra’.

But before that, a very brief introduction to the Air Max 1.

A BRIEF History

A story that can’t be told without first introducing its creator, renowned designer Tinker Hatfield. First employed by Nike as an architect at the Oregon campus, his journey dramatically changed when he was requested to try his hand at sneaker design 4 years in to this tenure with the brand.

Although his rebellious spirit went against Nike’s existing design briefs, it was exactly what was needed as the brand struggled to keep up with the market during this experimental time.

Nike's Air technology was actually around before the development of the Air Max 1. It's origins can be traced back to 1978 on the ‘Air Tailwind’, which offered athletes unparalleled bounce and response with each stride. Created by NASA engineer Frank Ruddy, an air bubble was tucked away in the sole of a sneaker, an idea that Tinker latched onto.

A trip to Paris played a vital role into how Tinker's ‘visible air’ idea was formed. With cues taken from the Centre Georges Pompidou, where the buildings structural elements are all presented on show on the outside of the building, the same concepts were applied to Tinker's sneaker designs. Removing part of the midsole to reveal the previously hidden air unit. Although the bold move was met with mixed reviews, there is no doubt that it has revolutionised footwear design till this day.

Since then the silhouette saw retro versions in 1992 and 1997, and it took till 2002 to see the first collaboration on the silhouette. And what a great place to start!

Name: Safari | Collaborator: Atmos | Release Date: 2002 | @Kevinknorman

Name: Cherrywoods| Collaborator: Patta x Parra | Release Date: 2010 | @max.loewe

Name: Viotech | Collaborator: Atmos | Release Date: 2003 | @tup057

Name: Parra | Collaborator: parra | Release Date: 2018 | @del.ten

Name: Kiss Of Death | Collaborator: Clot | Release Date: 2006 | @lissy.lis

Name: Corduroy | Collaborator: Patta | Release Date: 2009 | @Julianlenzin

Name: Amsterdam | Collaborator: Parra | Release Date: 2005 | @elpaeso

Name: Elephant | Collaborator: Atmos | Release Date: 2007 | @lucasblackman

Name: Chlorophyll | Collaborator: Patta | Release Date: 2009 | @tedsnkrs

Name: master | Collaborator: Everyone | Release Date: 2017 | @maztjaw


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