Air Max Day 2021

Air Max Day 2021

March 26, 2021

Arguably the sneaker that started it all.  To a lot of sneaker enthusiasts, the one model that may have persuaded them to take notice of the industry was the Nike Air Max.  Since its original release in 1987, the Air Max has seen updates on an almost annual basis to this day.  With the rich history, countless iterations, many stories surrounding the legacy of the sneaker, it is no secret as to why the Air Max has been consistently one of the most relevant models Nike has ever produced to this day.

Seeing the undying enthusiasm for the sneaker, Nike acknowledges the origins of the silhouette by celebrating the annual “Air Max Day” on March 26, since 2014.  To show the appreciation for one of the most revered silhouettes of all time, let's take a look back at some of the notable releases in the past, to present.

Top to Bottom: Air Max "OG," Air Max 90 "Infrared," Air Max 95 "Neon," Air Max 97 "Silver Bullet"

From The Beginning

Released in 1987, the Air Max was a revolutionary trainer in it’s tech and aesthetics.  Inspired by the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, designer Tinker Hatfield used this platform as the first time a “visible Air unit” was implemented in a sneaker.  This unique feature showed Hatfields innovative design abilities and transformed the running shoe industry into a fashionably adept landscape. Whereas traditional running shoes would be marked with blacks and beige, the Air Max added contrasting red details throughout to set itself apart from the pack.  Since its original inception, the Nike Air Max has become a staple in running shoes, and sneaker culture collectively.

The evolution of the Air Max continued a few years later.  Originally called the “Air Max 3,” the name most familiar with sneakerheads would be its attachment to it’s release; the “Air Max 90.”  Having seen massive success with the original Air Max, and Air Max 2, Hatfield once again set off to design a sneaker that would appease collectors who were now accustomed to his form and function sneakers.  It’s original colorway, “Infrared,” showed a new level of design with a combination of materials and elements to produce one of the most iconic silhouettes of all time. 

Designed by new comer Sergio Lozano, the Nike Air Max 95 was an aggressive progression in technology and design.  Immediately reselling in the secondary market in Europe and Japan, the 95’s was a hit right out of the gates.  Seeing returns or up to 10x the retail price, the Neon colorway remains one of the most popular silhouettes of the Air Max lineup.

Once again drawing inspiration from real world elements outside of the conventional sneaker world, the Nike Air Max 97 was released.  The Japanese Bullet Train inspo divided sneaker collectors for the majority of its life cycle, but has since become one of the most beloved in the series.  Featuring a visible Air unit that almost wraps entirely around the midsole, a metallic silver upper in a “wave” pattern, and hits of reflective materials throughout the sneaker, the Air Max 97 is perhaps one of the most requested OG era Air Max to re-issue.

Top to Bottom: Air Max 1 "ATMOS Elephant," Air Max 1 "ATMOS Safari," Air Max 95 "ATMOS Animal Pack"

Eastern Influence

The Air Max has always been on the radar of athletes and sneakerheads alike since its inception.  But where it was making the most impact in the scene was Japan.  The popularity of the sneakers, the scarcity in the region, and the fashion being displayed at the time was the perfect storm for the silhouette to pop off.

Japanese sneaker shop; ATMOS were one of the many brands that had a chance to work with Nike to design and release exclusive collaborative colorways of the popular Air Max line.  Being one of the most recognizable sneaker boutiques in the world, ATMOS took this opportunity and released some of the most revered Air Maxes of all time.  Using a mixture of the signature “Elephant Print,” Safari camo, and animal inspired materials and design, the ATMOS Air Max collection has seen worldwide success and is considered one of most desired sneakers ever.

Top to Bottom: CLOT x Air Max 1 "Kiss of Death," Air Max 1/97 "Sean Wotherspoon," Air Max 1 "Parra," Air max 97 "Undefeated Black"


One of the most important aspects of Air Maxes staying relevant and in demand is their ability to attract brands, influencers and artists to collaborate with.  From popular streetwear entities such HUF, Undefeated, Comme Des Garcons and Off-White, to individuals like Sean Wotherspoon, Skepta, Parra and more, the Nike Air Max has been able to offer unique takes on their classic silhouettes to endless possibilities.

Top to Bottom: Off-White Air Vapormax "The Ten," Off-White Air Max 90 "Desert Ore," Off-White Air Max 90 "Black"

The versatility of these models has also led to its longevity in the sneaker world.  With tens of thousands of iterations thus far, there does not seem to be a ceiling that has been measured yet.

Top to Bottom: Air Max 2090 "Evolution of Icons," Air Max Zero "Sulfur"

Past and Future

Developed as athletic footwear, and has since been recognized as a fashion statement, the Nike Air Max has easily been accounted for as a forefront in developing an entire community around sneakers.  Cemented in sneaker history, the 1987 release of the Air Max has seen multiple releases in a variety of colorways every year since, and this trend does not seem to have an end in sight.

Where will the future of the Air Max go?  The constant innovation of the Air Max has always been state of the art.  From the Air Max of the 80's and 90's, to the new models such as the Air Vapormax, Air Max 720, and Air Max 270 just to name a few.  Using the latest technology to make the shoes more supportive, maximize the area of the "air bubble," and always seeking newer, lighter and more durable materials for maximum performance and styling.  With the yearly updates and evolution of the silhouette, it’s very likely that enthusiasts wanting performance based sneakers as well as the breaking edge in trends will always find comfort in their visible Air units.

Written by: Eugene Lau
Photography: Andrew Lau

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