After the Vapormax and Air Max 720, its hard to imagine what’s next. I’m not sure if it’s possible to put any more air in a shoe at this point, but i’m sure Nike will find a way. I can see Nike’s self-lacing technology and Air Max cushioning being combine in the near future.

Zack Schlemmer

More than the Swoosh

If I asked you to close your eyes and picture the Nike brand as a whole. The vast majority of people would think of Swoosh. You might also think of their ‘Just Do It’ campaign, and I am almost certain, you’d think of Air. More specifically, the brands most famous incarnation, the Nike Air Max. A technology that has become the basis for an entire catalogue of commercially successful Nike silhouettes. First used in 1978 on the Nike air tailwind the technology was defined by the brand as the following.

“Nike Air technology consists of pressurised air inside a robust yet flexible bag and provides more flexibility and spring without compromising structure. The air-sole units maintain their given form with elasticity, lower impact and keep the shoe snug and lightweight”

The revolutionary idea of adding air to a trainer came from the NASA engineer Frank Rudy. From that point on the brand never really looked back, with the Air Max Unit a well established and consistent staple in the industry. Pretty much everyone at one stage or another has owned a pair of shoes infused with Air, and that is down to Nike. Whether you wear Air Max for style or comfort. The product line is one of the most commonly worn in the world. With so many silhouettes having spawned since the technologies inceptions it got me pondering. What are some of the most widely loved and appreciated to date?

Air Max 1

The Air Max 1 for a lot of people has ever presently lived in the shadow of its closest relative, the air max 90. what you might not be aware of however is that the air max 1 is actually 3 years older than its more high profile ancestor. The air max 1 debuted in 1987 and the first to offer a window to the sole. Introducing to the world the now commonly observed aesthetic of the air bubble. The Air Max 1 gas seen countless collaborations and colourways hit the silhouette, but this model attains a spot on this list for its status as the originator. The first air max one that paved the way for everything that came after it.

Air Max 2 (Light)

The long-awaited and most natural sequel to the original Air Max 1 came in 1994. existing as one of the last air max silhouettes legendary designer Tinker Hatfield ever designed. Introducing multiple air chambers with different pressured for strategic cushioning and support. Curiously however the Air Max 2 has never received a re-release. although curiously the Nike Air Max 2 light, a diet version from the same year has since received a new addition to its portfolio thanks to the emergence of the dad shoe trend that the air max 2 in a lot of ways falls into, and is almost certainly the primary reason for its inclusion on this list.

Air Max 90

Dubbed initially the Air Max 3, the Nike air max 90 is probably the most famous member of the air max family tree. Released in 1990, completely reworking the air max for the new decade, the air max 90 has gone down in history for all the right reasons. So much so that you really would run out of superlatives for this silhouette. Instead, I think it is best to keep it short and sweet. AM90 will always be legendary.

Air Max 95

1995s aptly named Air Max 95 was designed by Sergio Lozano and was notable for its subtle branding and striking form. Chunky and in a lot of ways not too dissimilar to a Nike TN. The air max 95 was a distinctively urban trainer. Created with the human anatomy in mind, and toning down the Nike branding, this model was a lasting success and proof that the world was hooked on Nike. Take away the Swoosh and the brands relationship with the consumer remains.

Air Max 97

Full-length air cushioning was the most significant milestone that accompanied the debut of the air max 97 in 1997. designed by Christian Tressler, the upper of the shoe was inspired by ripples in a pond and is one of the darlings of the Sneakerhead community. With the famous Silver Bullet colourway remaining to this day as one of the most attractive trainers you can buy.

Air Max 98

There is no shoe that encapsulated 90s fashion better than the air max 98, and its inclusion on the list is a no brainer, not only because I own a pair, but also because you can’t say this model isn’t eye-catching. Specifically, if you are talking about its flagship Gundam model.A mismatched design and bold, contrasting colours make the 1998 kicks one of the most eye-catching Nike releases ever.

Air Max 180

Observing for the first time, a 180-degree view of visible air in itself is a gimmick that deserves a space on this list. The air max 180 debuting in 1992 offered precisely that. A silhouette that has recently started to edge its way back into prominence, particularly in outlet stores and is the canvas for which one of my personal favourite Nike colourways is painted onto, the Ultramarine. Initially a departure from the tried-and-tested formula of the early Air Max dynasty. I hope you can see why this Air Max has lasting appeal.

Air Max 200

The spiritual successor to the Air Max 180 and one of the newest Air Max silhouettes on the market. Despite it’s release date the Air Max 200 has already endeared itself to long standing advocates of the Air Max series. By presenting a retro style that is almost flawless from bottom to top. Clearly taking design queues from the Air Max 270 React, the Air Max 200 offers you everything you want from a classic Air Max. With a more than welcome modern twist.

Air Max 270 (React)

Taking inspirations from their designs from the early 90s in an attempt to inspire some forward-thinking ideas. 2018s Air Max 270 was born out of a necessity to follow an ever-growing interest in lifestyle specific trainer. The result was a cross-pollination of aesthetics I’m coining as retro-futuristic. From which of course even more excitingly the Air Max 270 react was born. Splicing of the DNA from the Air Max 270 and the Nike React Element 87. a cross over that for me personally was my favourite shoe in 2019.

Air Max 720

Released in 2019 as the sequel to the 270. the Air Max 720 showed us the future in more ways that one. Adopting a bulky space-age aesthetic, and boasting the tallest airbag to date. The Air Max 720 turned more than a few heads. One of the most exciting shoes of the year, the 720 redefined the air unit that has seen so many variations. creating something that is still unmistakably air max but incredibly revolutionary for fans of the series.

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