Air Max Collaborations
Introduced to the sneaker world in 1987, the Nike Air Max silhouette was a pivotal moment in sneaker history. The Nike Air Max changed the game of future sneakers, as the design broke the footwear standard for cushioning and transcended footwear as we would know it. Since its origin by legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield and aeronautical engineer Frank Rudy’s revolutionary Air technology, the Nike Air Max has been an instant success. For over 35 years, the Air Max’s introduction has resulted in Nike creating additional advanced technology placed on iconic silhouettes moving forward.
Although every March is dedicated to celebrating Nike Air Max month, another notable celebration held in March is Women’s History Month. This annual celebration commemorates women's contributions worldwide and recognizes women's specific achievements in history. The month of March allows everyone to reflect on the trailblazing women who lead the way for change in various fields. With Nike Air Max and Women’s History Month celebrations in mind, read below to explore some of the most iconic Air Max collaborations with notable women designers and icons.
AMBUSH x Nike Air Max 180 Hi
Yoon Ahn, the co-founder of the Tokyo-based label AMBUSH, is well-versed in creating innovative styles and eye-catching motifs and intersecting Japanese culture with the outside world. Born and raised in the Seattle suburbs and a graduate of Boston University, the self-taught designer has broken into the realm of fashion monumentally. In 2019, AMBUSH collided with Nike to introduce the AMBUSH x Nike Air Max 180 Hi. Yoon Ahn is in constant motion, which is prevalent in this signature silhouette. The AMBUSH x Nike Air Max 180 Hi represents technical styling and athletic innovation. Yoon Ahn’s styling and eclectic aesthetic are present in this design, as the Nike Air Max 180 is the first Nike sneaker she ever bought. The AMBUSH x Nike Air Max 180 Hi combines the aesthetics of the Nike Air Max 180 with the Air Zoom Flight, resulting in the sensation of a fully wrapped foot. The hybrid sneaker is comfortable and functional and features a ripstop upper tooled with a center front zipper and a branded utility pull tab. Synthetic overlays and contrasting heel panels are placed throughout, while the additional comfort is thanks to the foam midsole and visible 180 Air unit. The upgraded tread at the rubber outsole emphasizes durability and traction.
Comme des Garçons x Nike Air Max 180
Obsessed with construction, pattern cutting, and other fashion techniques, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons is a self-taught Japanese fashion designer known for her avant-garde clothing designs. Rei Kawakubo studies literature and art at Keio University. After graduating, she quickly became employed at a textile firm and dabbled in freelance styling. Rei Kawakubo soon grew to establish Comme des Garçons in Tokyo, Japan, in 1973. The label has since been branched out into many different lines, with the most notable one being Comme des Garçons PLAY. Rei is not only involved with the creative department of her business but also focuses on the interiors of her shops, promotion of the label, and assists with graphic design efforts. Kawakubo thinks that anything that people wear governs their emotions and feelings. The Comme des Garçons x Nike Air Max 180 was introduced to the fashion world at Paris fashion week for Comme des Garçons’ Spring/Summer ‘18 line. This signature silhouette is featured in White Pink and Black Pink colorways, representing a distinct aesthetic that nods to Nike’s technology and the premium components of Comme des Garçons. The sneaker boasts co-branding at the tongue and heel, while the nylon upper makes a sleek statement. The partially exposed Air unit and waffle rubber outsole tie together the rest of the look.
Sacai x Nike Air Max 90
Creative Director Chitose Abe founded the Sacai label in 1999. The designer’s mother was a seamstress, resulting in Chitose encountering fashion and textiles early. She was always fascinated by Tokyo’s bustling fashion industry, and her aesthetics elevate and simplify that of her homeland. After graduating from college, Chitose Abe began working with Junya Watanabe as a patternmaker at Comme des Garçons. After leaving Comme des Garçons and working as a full-time mother for the next two years, in 1999, Chitose decided to launch a small, home-run label where she could create a limited run of pieces. This turned into a full-fledged brand that contributed to the rising movement of designers creating slick, stylish streetwear with distinctly feminine sensibilities. Sacai is renowned for its prodigious technical ability, and that aesthetic is heavily prevalent in the Sacai x Nike Air Max 90. Introduced in March of 2015 alongside a women’s collection created in collaboration with NikeLab back in 2015, the signature sneaker takes on a remix of the classic Nike Air Max 90 silhouette. Released in Obsidian and Volt Obsidian colorways, the futuristic design couples a seamless premium leather construction with an elasticized fuse tongue for comfort. The sneaker is a sleek collaborative take on a classic design while being reworked into a unique slip-on style by honoring the themes of expression and movement.
Olivia Kim x Air Max 97
In 2020 Native New Yorker and Nordstrom’s VP of Creative Projects collided with Nike on the ‘No Cover’ sneaker pack. While growing up in the ‘90s, Olivia Kim coveted sneakers closely, and during this period was a golden age of creative expression in downtown NYC and for sneaker culture as a whole. This sneaker capsule contained a capsule of nostalgic NYC-inspired OG Nike silhouettes that she couldn’t get her hands on growing up. The capsule brought to life what was previously unattainable in her life once and embodied the sneaker culture of the ‘90s. Featured within this pack was the Olivia Kim x Air Max 97. Inspired by the sneaker’s first-ever release in 1998, the collaborative design’s inspiration came from the dancehall music and Jamaican cultural influences that permeated NYC in the ‘90s. The color gradient aesthetic nods to the iconic Air Max 120 while giving the sneaker an added vibrancy and other ‘90s inspiration. The sneaker is then accented by reflective design details within the toe box and upper. The Olivia Kim x Air Max 97 is elevated to represent the essence of the city’s Rastafarian community.
Nike’s Air Max repertoire is notable thanks to its revolutionary technology paired with sleek aesthetics, and these unique women sneaker collaborations have made undeniable contributions to the silhouette’s legacy. Click here to shop for the latest Nike Air Max sneakers.
This year’s #FeatureAIR campaign is still running through March 26th on Nike Air Max Day. Those who post a photo to their Instagram feed with their favorite Air Max silhouette and the hashtags #FeatureAIR and #MyFeature will be entered to receive a free FEATURE t-shirt. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to show off your favorite Nike Air Max design, along with the opportunity to receive an exclusive FEATURE graphic tee. Learn more about the #FeatureAir campaign by clicking here.