Nike Air Max

The Nike Air Max series stands out as the most exclusive and appreciated sneakers series of the Swoosh. Launched in the late ‘80s and growing to become the most influential saga of contemporary footwear, the Air Max project came from legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield. The main credit of the Air Max legacy lies in the ability to combine sport shoes elements with a retro aesthetic, also influencing the pop culture through epoch-making collaborations and exclusive models. The evolution of the whole Air Max series kinda reflects the many changes and innovations that Nike had to face or introduce over the years, maintaining its sportswear background throughout its footwear legacy while adding new influences and testing new technologies. There are Air Max built with a suede upper or using leather, mesh, synthetic textures or Flyknit, and yet the most interesting part remains the sole. The Air Max are known for being the first Nike sneakers provided with a visible Air Unit in the midsole, i.e. a small air cushioning encapsulated in the sole to make the shoes more flexible and absorb contact, first introduced in 1982 with the Air Force 1. A long list of creatives, designers and artists collaborated with Nike on the Air Max to prove the all-around influence of this lineup on fashion and pop culture. Notable names include Travis Scott, Virgil Abloh, Patta, Supreme, Sean Wotherspoon and many others. Along with the Nike Dunk, the Air Max series were among the first shoes to lead people to queue for hours to grab a pair. Some original colorways and trend-setting patterns, like that of the Air Max 1 ‘Safari’, had such a major influence over streetwear to be reissued over and over the years, and many Air Max belong to a long list of retro sneakers the Swoosh is worldwide acclaimed for.

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Which is the most famous Air Max?

Tough to pick a single pair in such a long list of iconic sneakers, but maybe the most significant model is the Air Max 1, the pair which started everything. The AM1 are a full-fledged running shoe: a cushioned midsole sits atop an outsole designed to provide traction, while the retro upper sticks out as the series’s and brand’s overall signature hallmark. After the two original colorways, the ‘University Red’ and ‘University Blue’, the brand released a long list of models that changed the course of the sneaker game once and for all. The Air Max 1 x Off-White, part of ‘The Ten’ collaborative effort, unveiled a new era of high-sounding streetwear collaborations with worldwide famous artists and designers. The Air Max 1 ‘Albert Heijn’ is unanimously regarded as the absolute grail of many sneakers collectors over the world. The Air Max 1 x Patta ‘Monarch’ relaunched the connection between Nike and Patta, and so on endlessly.

How many models of Air Max are there?

To draw up a list of the most famous Air Max ever we should move on in a chronological order, also to figure out the cultures those Nike sneakers have been able to influence during the process and to understand the sources of inspiration behind the Air Max saga. After few initial doubts about endurance and shape, the introduction of Air Max 1 in 1987 changed the meaning itself of sneakers, stressing the importance of technology like never seen before. If Air Max 1 were the fuse, then Air Max 90 were the ultimate trigger of an emerging phenomenon: once again designed by the outlandish Tinker, those new Air Max silhouettes grabbed everyone's attention due to a bigger Air Cushioning featuring iconic colorways like the "infrared". Though those first two models achieved a resounding success, the Swoosh kept on testing new combinations, conceiving an hybrid Air Max that puts together elements both from Air Max 1 and Air Max 90. Air Max 93, instead, were the first pair to extend the bladder even on the heel, improving cushioning and traction - Tinker's favorite shoe, then. Another step to greatness coincides with the debut of Air Max 95, consisting of a double Air bladder placed in the midsole, the so-called Forefoot Visible Air. Nothing compares to Air Max 97, featuring for the first time reflective 3M details on a loud design: they're also known as AM 97 "Silver" because their designer Sergio Lozano took inspiration from a Japanese high-speed train. Born as sleek running sneakers, they quickly turned into coveted streetwear styles, especially in Italy. Later on, Nike launched the Air Max 98, but the Air Max legacy is still running and the brand continues to slightly rework its archive models, as well as introducing cutting-edge design loyal to the Air Max philosophy.

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