By: Royal Wright @LilFtBigHeat
In 1987 Nike debuted the first sneaker with visible air. Designer Tinker Hatfield drew inspiration from the Le Centres George Pompidou in Paris, France. The designer Renzo Piano wanted to create something that revealed the inner-workings of the building, the designers embraced the idea, design and created a building that would change the way we look at sneakers today. Tinker wanted the consumer to have a sneaker to “breathe, be flexible, fit well and not be over designed”. Tinker also wanted it to look different than any other sneaker at the time.
Before it’s debut Nike’s marketing department thought it would be hard to sell a sneaker with an exposed air bag. Their initial thoughts were that he pushed it too far with the design, and said that it looked fragile and could puncture at anytime.
Little did they know that encapsulating gas inside a urethane capsule would create the most popular cushioning system in the world and on March 26, 1987 the Nike Air Max debuted. It was an instant success! Not just for Nike but footwear design period. Tinker took that risk and it paid off tenfold.
Following the success of the Air Max Nike would continue to produce the “Air Max” line. The follow up was the Air Max II (Light), Air Max III (90), Air Max III (BW) and then the Air Max 180. Tinker developed a revolutionary design to show a 180 degree visible air unit.
In 1995 brought us visible air to the forefoot on the Air Max 95 a sneaker created by Nike brand designer Sergio Lozano. Nike continued to push innovation with the Air Max ‘97. Christian Tresser created an air unit that ran the entire sneaker with an emphasis on tech, reflective and sophistication.
With continued innovation at the Nike Sports Research Lab. Nike created it’s newest sneaker which took 30 years in the making. The Nike VaporMax is an ultralight, FlyKnit upper sneaker with no midsole. Nike provided the consumer a lightweight consistent cushion that lasts. It took the company seven years to visualize, design and produce the newest flagship Air Max model. In Pure Platinum, Grey/Red & the limited triple black.
In 2016 Nike introduced a program called “Vote Back”. A user submitted vote via SNKRS to bring back some of Nike’s most famous and popular sneakers that have never retro’d. The list included the Air Max 98 TL, Air Max 90 “Duck Camo”, Air Max 95 “Viotech & Air Max ’97 “Hyperfuse”
Last years winner the ATMOS x Nike Air Max 1 “Atmos Elephant”.
Was recently release and was an instant sellout with resell going well above $350+. While the Pack which included an Air Jordan III is going for $1k+ on StockX. This years vote saw twelve designers from around the globe with designs that incorporated the AM 1, ’97 and VaporMax.
This year’s winner was Round Two co-owner Sean Wortherspoon’s hybrid of the Air Max ’97 x Air Max 1 hybrid. The inspiration behind the design was vintage Nike hats from the 80’s. Stay tuned for the release date in 2018.