A Brief History Of The Nike Air Max

It's the greatest sneaker on the planet and makes me go weak at the knees. Here is its past, present and (possible) future...
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The Air Max 90 has become quite the icon since it’s debut in, er, 1990. It was the second running shoe created by architect-turned-trainer-designer (sure) Tinker Hatfield, displaying it’s air bags for all and sundry to see (a bit like the Le Blow gals on a night out).

Nike invented its Air Cushioning Technology in 1979. By plonking air bags in the mid-soles of its running shoes, it changed the way athletes performed FOREVS.

In June of 1981 a fresh-faced architecture graduate joined Team Nike, as (funnily enough) an architect. And what of it? No one outside of Nike would ever see his work, right? WRONG!

That architect’s name was Tinker Hatfield, and when Nike asked him to try his hand at trainer design in 1985, NOTHING WOULD EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN. He single-handedly changed the aesthetic of sneaker stylin’, and the design process, too.

Fast forward to 1987. Prior to Tinker’s tinkering, the air unit in the swoosh brand’s sneaker soles was always concealed.

Then Tinker saw this fugly building: the Centre Pompidou in Paris…


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Inspired by the skeletal structure, with its “guts spilling out” – you can see everything inside, from the escalators to the people – he came up with the idea of exposing the air unit, and after much debate at Nike HQ, (“Why don’t we just cut a big hole in the midsole?”), this happened…

Nike Air Max 1 (1987)


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Followed three years later by this

Nike Air Max II (1990)


Note: Originally known as the Air Max III in the 90s, but became the Air Max 90 from 2000 onwards, fact fans…

This is obviously not an all-encompassing history of the Nike Air Max – I'd be here all bloody day! So here’s a few notable modern Nike Air Max collabs that have caught my eye – a smörgåsbord of stylish sneakers, if you will.

Liberty x Nike


Nike Air Max Safari Pack

air max safari

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The return of the Nike Air Max 90 Infrared (re-release)

air max infra

To shop for Nike Air Max, spring (LOL see what we did there?) over to JD Sports

This article originally appeared on Le Blow