Nike Air Max

Nike Air Max

Nike Air Max is a line of shoes first released by Nike, Inc. in 1987. The shoe was originally designed by Tinker Hatfield, who started out working for Nike as an architect designing shops; he also designed many of the NMD models. The Nike air technology was created and patented by employee M. Frank Rudy.

The Nike Air Max shoe uses a large air cushioning unit at the heel which is visible from the side of the midsole in most models. Types of Air Max cushioning include:

180 Air in the early 1990s which was visible through the bottom of the shoe (although smaller portions of Air units are visible through the bottom of many Air Max models)
“Air Max2” which does not have the holes in the cushioniing unit and is of high pressure,
“Tube Air” which is visible in several small circles on the midsole of the shoe,
“Total Air” which is another word for full Air Max cushioning,
“Tuned Air,” which is a system of individual pods tuned to different areas of the foot.

The line of sneakers is popular amongst many subcultures, for example Hip Hop, Gabber and the working class.

In the mid-1990s the line, especially the Air Max 95 model, experienced such a surge of popularity in Japan that it led to a phenomenon known as “Air Max hunting”. The extremely inflated prices of the shoes led to a rash of muggings in the normally-peaceful country wherein Air Max wearers were attacked and their shoes were stolen. Even used shoes were in demand, and fakes also became a serious problem.

Air Max 1
Released in 1987 as the Air Max, the Air Max 1 is the first shoe to have Nike’s air cushioning unit on full display. The sneaker’s upper was made of nylon and synthetic felt. Leather version was later released in 1988. A 1992 reissue had taken the midsole and outsole from the Air Max III (now called the Air Max 90) and featured a leather upper . Nylon was brought back in a 1995 reissue.

Air Max Light
Released in 1989 as the Air Max II, the Air Max Light weighed less than the original, achieved by replacing the forefoot polyurethane midsole with one made of EVA foam. Re-released in 2007, Nike has continued to release additional colorways.

Air Max 90
Known as the Air Max III until 2000, when it was reissued taking its name from the year of its launch. The original colourway of white/black/cool grey with infrared was chosen to exaggerate the thickness of the sole air cushion. The upper featured Duromesh, synthetic felt and synthetic leather. Nike specially designed a pair of Nike Air Max 90s for President George H.W. Bush. Images of the customized sneakers have been seen around the Department of Nike Archives, and feature AIR PRES branding along with what appears to be a unique colorway.

Air Max 180
Released in 1991, the Air Max 180 featured a larger air unit visible through the outsole. The technology was later used in the Air Force 180 sneaker.
Air Max 93

The visual design of the Air Max 95 was created by Sergio Lozano who based the design of the Air Max 95 on the human anatomy, with the spine of the shoe resembling the human spine and the materials intended to represent skin, ribs, and tendons. The Air Max 95 was the first pair in the line to utilize two air cushions in the forefoot and used air pressure technology to fit the curvature of the wearer’s forefoot.. The first colorway was black, neon yellow and white. Neon yellow was used to emphasize the multiple air units. The shoe also introduced a smaller Nike swoosh minimized in the rear side panel. Original releases featured a “25 PSI” air pressure reading on the rear air unit. Uppers also featured 3M Scotchlite material.

The product was referenced in the hip hop song “Hate It or Love It” by The Game, which was a worldwide top 10 hit in 2005. Also referenced by rappers Gucci Mane in the hit single “Bricks” and Waka Flocka Flame on the track “Head First” in his 2009 mixtape, “Lebron Flocka James”. The rapper Eminem designed a limited-edition range of Air Maxes sold for charity.

Air Max 97
1997’s Air Max 97 was inspired by high-speed Japanese bullet trains. It was introduced with a sleeker, metallic silver colorway that contained a nearly full-length visible air unit. Uppers feature three reflective lines made of 3M Scotchbrite material.

Air Max 97 flash photo highlighting the reflective 3M Scotchbrite
The Nike Air Max 97 is a Nike running shoe designed by Christian Tresser. It was inspired by Japan’s high-speed Bullet Trains and features a mix of leather, foam, and full-length visible Air. The original “Silver Bullet” colorway released again in the US on April 13th, 2017 for $160. Over 13 new colorways are hitting retailers starting August 1st, 2017.

Some of the colorways are Khaki, White/Red, Tea Berry, Metallic Silver, B-sides Pack, Guava Ice, True Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers, Phantom, Red/White/Blue, Just Do It, Elemental Pink, Desert and Sky, Luxurious Tan, Ocean Bliss, Midnight Navy, Tartan, Mustard, and Metallic Gold.

Air Max Plus Tuned

Released in 1998, the Air Max Plus introduced Nike’s Tuned Air system. It is often referred to as the Air Max TN. Designed by Sean McDowell, the Air Max Plus featured tranverse waves inspired by palm trees, and a prominent arch shank inspired by a whale tail. The initial release featured a “Hyper Blue” colorway, characterized by a fading blue airbrush effect. The Nike swoosh had a slightly irregular appearance as a border was added along the inner edge, as opposed to the outer surface

Air Max 360

On January 21, 2006 Nike launched the Air Max 360, a new shoe design that utilized Max Air throughout the shoes midsole.

In September 2006 Nike introduced a special ‘one time only pack’ which fused the 360 model with three classics. The three shoes used were the Air Max 90, Air Max 95, and Air Max 97. For this special release, the design of the 360 sole was used in place of the normal sole of the three classics. The shoes were released in the three original colors: red for the Air Max 90, green/yellow for the Air Max 95, and grey/silver for the Air Max 97. Like other Air Max releases, deluxe editions were also produced. These deluxe editions lasted for about 500 miles (800 km) before their shock absorbing properties deteriorated. The use of ‘360’ of air cushioning is meant to ensure the shoes

Vapormax has been released in Mar, 2017 designed by Kathy Gomez.

The shoes were initially advertised in 1987 with a TV campaign that used the Beatles’ song “Revolution”, the first time a Beatles song had been used in a TV commercial. The following year, Nike used the Just Do It slogan. They were also endorsed by Bo Jackson in exchange for a $100,000 fee, with advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy coming up with the slogan “Bo knows…”.

Models include:

Air Max (commonly known as Air Max 1) – 1987
Air Stab – 1988
Air Max II (commonly known as Air Max Light) – 1989
Air Max III (commonly known as Air Max 90) – 1990
Air Max IV (Air Max BW, Air Max Classic or Air Classic BW) – 1991
Air Structure Triax 91 – 1991
Air 180 (now known as Air Max 180) – 1991
Air Max ST – 1992
Air Tailwind 92 – 1992
Air Max 93 (also known as Air Max 270) – 1993
Air Max 94 – 1994
Air Max 2 – 1994
Air Max 2 Charles Barkley 34 (commonly known as Air Max CB 34) – 1994
Air Max Triax 94 – 1994
Air Max Light 2 – 1994
Air Total Max (commonly known as Air Max 95) – 1995
Air Max Racer – 1995
Air Max 96 – 1996
Air Max 96 II
Air Max 97
Air Max 98
Air Max 98 II
Air Max 99
Air Max Pillar
Air Max Posterize SL
Air Max Deluxe
Air Max 2000
Air Max Plus (commonly known as Air Max TN)
Air Max 120
Air Max Ltd – 2002
Air Max 2003
Air Max 2004
Air Max Destined – 2006
Air Max 360 – 2006
Air Max 180 – 2006
Air Max 360 – 2007
Air Max 180 II – 2008
Air Max Elite
Air Max 180 III – 2008
Air Max T-Zone – 2009
Air Max Skyline
Air Max 2009
Air Max 90 Current – 2009 (redesign of the Air Max 90, incl. toe box)
Air Maxim – 2009 (redesign of the Air Max 1, featuring Flywire or torch materials)
Air Max BW Gen II – 2010 (redesign of the Air Max BW, featuring torch material)
Air Max 2010
Air Max Tailwind+ 2
Air Max Trainer 1
Air Max Trainer 1+ (with Flywire, toe strap, and 360 Air Max Technology)
Air Max Turbulence – 2010
Air Max 2011
Air Max Command
Air Max 24/7
Air Max+ 2012
Air Max+ 2013
Air Max Defy Run
Air Max Minot
Air Max Motion
Air Max+ 2014
Air Max Direct
Flyknit Air Max
Air Max Zero
Air Max Prime
Air Max Tavas
Air Max+ 2015
Fingertrap Max
Air Max+ 2016
Air Max+ 2017
Air Max invigor
Air Max 95
Air Max Torch IV
Air Max 97 OG [17]
Air Max 270
Air Max 720
The 1993 model was the first to have the fully visible heel Air unit that was visible in the back as well as on the sides, and the 1995 model was the first to feature visible forefoot Air. The 1997 model was the first to include a full length Air bag.

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