Since its introduction to the footwear industry in 1978, the Nike Air technology has changed the way we approach comfort within footwear design. Nike strives to push limits on its constructions, designs, and technology. So in 1987 when they debuted the transparent bubble for the first time, it showed how Nike had a passion for challenging the boundaries and creating the best in footwear. Before it came to fruition, the idea was conceptualized by legendary designer, Tinker Hatfield. When Hatfield joined the team it was prevalent that he loved to think outside the box and try new things, making him the perfect candidate for Nike’s headquarters.
One day, during a trip to Paris, Hatfield was admiring the Centre Pompidou and its architecture. In this building, we find one of Europe’s largest modern art museums and Paris’ public information library. But instead of admiring its inner beauty, Tinker found himself in awe of its exterior and inside-out concept within its architecture. Initially, Hatfield was trained as an architect and appreciated the ideology of the building; making him question, ‘how can I implement this within a shoe?’ He was able to transform this into the Air window; a transparent opening where you can see the inner workings of the sneaker from the outside. Because of this trip to Paris, the transparent air bubble was born.
First seen on the Air Max 1, the transparent window was a spectacle as many never truly realized that a gaseous bubble truly existed within its midsoles. But now, it was made clear that this technology offered the responsive cushioning that everyone desired. Its design offered a futuristic finish that many weren’t used to but its casual styling and color palettes contributed to its success. But it was the Nike Air Max 90 that solidified the Air bubble’s future. After a couple of years of getting familiar with the technology, Hatfield went for the jugular and wanted to offer an even bigger window. With the wider bubble implemented, the shoe is accented with fine lines and premium materials to elevate the shoe from its predecessor. But what truly stole the show was the bold ‘Infrared’ accents surrounding Nike motifs and the bubble. The combined materials, colors, and cushioning were a home-run and has become one of the most sought-after silhouettes within Nike’s roster. Considering its historic development, Nike has created varying models to champion the transparent detailing along with renditions of the 90s and other retro Air Maxes. Silhouettes including the Air Max 95 and 97 have been revived in varying color schemes to uphold the current trends as they too have grown in popularity. We revert back to its original release on March 26th, 1987 as it was the day that started a footwear revolution.
To commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Air Max, we sat down with a local Las Vegas footwear collector to understand his background and journey. With over 100+ Nike Air Maxes, Chad Yanuaria talked about how the silhouette has made an impact within his collection and what the model means to him. With a variety of designs, we wanted to shine a light on a couple of the most hyped releases that we saw within his collection.
Released in 2018, Nike revived the long-time collaboration efforts with Dutch artist Parra to highlight abstract details and palettes familiar in the artists’ portfolio. When releasing their first collaboration delivery, they included the Air Max 1 colorways ‘Cherrywood’ and ‘Amsterdam.’ With the growing popularity of those silhouettes, the duo has curated a collection again a decade later in 2018. The latest joint efforts draw emphasis on abstract interpretations of landscapes; these interpretations expressed themselves as stripe and dot patterns. This concept drew inspiration from the initial City Pack with a contemporary twist. With the success of their initial Air Max 1 rendition, they decided to utilize the new theme within the same silhouette. The distinct Parra theme throughout the sneaker offered a design that spoke true to his DNA and aesthetic. To finish its design, embroidered Parra branding is seen upon the side panels, solidifying the collaboration.
When referring to exclusive sneakers, one of the most referred to is the ‘112 Pack’ created between Nike and sneaker aficionado and music producer, DJ Clark Kent. The capsule included signature Nike silhouettes including the Air Force 1, Air Max 1, and Air Trainer 1. Each shoe featured the same colorway which includes grey, black, and volt yellow. Upon the suede constructions, an overlay of elephant print elevates the model’s overall look. During 2009, this bright combination of colors and patterns was truly unique and many wanted to have a pair for themselves. But unfortunately, the original silhouettes were only made in limited quantities, and obtaining a pair was near to impossible. After the introduction of the pack, in 2009 we would see different Nike silhouettes taking on the same theme but many reminisce on the Air Max 1; as the color combination and varying materials fit perfectly within its silhouette. The sneaker is now being sold at a high price tag as Nike and DJ Clark Kent have yet to revive the design.
Nike’s Air Max line-up is packed with exclusive designs and unique collaborations. This year, Nike is releasing a new Air Max silhouette known as ‘Pre-Day’ while also reviving the ‘Bacon’ colorway upon the Air Max 90. To grab a closer look at the new sneakers and our full interview with Chad, click here to head to our Youtube channel to learn more.