The resulting Air Max Light improved on the OG in a number of key ways

It’s kind of funny, actually. Even now, people who are getting into sneaker culture are wearing Dunks, and they’re thinking, ‘Oh, where did this new shoe model come from?’ And you’re like, ‘You know this thing has a history that goes way back, even past SB?’ While 1988’s Air Walker Max went the heavy duty, supportive route, 1989 saw Tinker Hatfield trying to craft an even lighter version of 1987’s original Air Max runner. The resulting Air Max Light improved on the OG in a number of key ways and shed weight through the use of a new two-piece midsole that ditched the polyurethane of the original in favour of Phylon. 420 Denier Mesh also improved the runner’s breathability while thermoplastic straps made sure that support and stability weren’t sacrificed. The AM Light ultimately laid the groundwork for the Air Max 90 and saw its successor utilise a new take on those aforementioned thermoplastic straps, as well as the variable width lacing options they provided. So to bring somebody in who’s very important to the culture, but not necessarily tied to it, was always going to be a challenge. We had to make sure that it still felt right. The Air Max line is a favourite for plenty of sneakerheads, having changed the landscape of the footwear world with just about every release. As varied as the shoes themselves are, so too are the stories behind them. Ever wondered how they thought up the Air Max 97, or why Nike thought to put air into soles in the first place? The Nike Air Max Solo ‘Light Silver’ is set to debut very soon, and will be available in a bunch of other colourways upon release including a ‘Panda’-like pair. Expected to drop at Nike and select stockists worldwide, a retail price has yet to be officially confirmed.

One of the more well-known Air Max models in recent memory, the VaporMax was introduced in 2017 to substantial fanfare. Highly technical on paper, the VaporMax sole mold is composed of 39,000 components and is the first Air Max to feature no foam or rubber in the midsole and outsole. The upper is then fused directly to the air bag, lending the shoe a unique ground feel. Headed up by Nike Sportswear designer Dylan Raasch, the VaporMax initially released in a ‘Pure Platinum’ color scheme. The chances are, former Nike SB footwear designer Bryce ‘The Sandman’ Wong is the brains behind all of your favourite Dunks from the ‘Striped Box’ era. A kid from Southern California, Wong first got off the leash in 2019 with the ‘The Dog Walker’, a ballsy inline release that helped spark the rabid SB revival. With a hefty portfolio of collaborators including The Grateful Dead, Neckface, Todd Bratrud and Oskar Rozenberg, Wong’s designs have left us footwear feral all over again. The grey suede tongue is stitched with the Nike logo in white, and there’s additional branding to the insole and beefy Air midsole. The Air Footscape Woven is rounded off with a grippy rubber outsole.

If you want the Air Jordan 1 High OG ‘Craft’ in your rotation this season, it’s arriving on May 27 at Nike and select retailers globally. Price wise, it’ll set you back £170. Totally worth it considering this colourway is destined for grail status. Father of the Air Max, Tinker Hatfield, found his inspiration for the inaugural design in the architecture of the Centre Pompidou during a visit to Paris. Hatfield, who was trained as an architect, was taken by the building’s inside-out approach ­— with its structure wrapped around the building’s exterior. From this came the idea to expose the inner workings of the shoe, and the visible Air window was born. With each Air Max release, Nike was exposing more of the air unit, so it was only a matter of time before the bubble wrapped its way around the heel. The inspiration for the design that achieved this came from an unlikely item: a plastic milk jug. The blow moulding used to produce the 270-degree visibility quickly changed what Nike could do with air, and it wouldn’t be long before the world saw a shoe with a forefoot cushioned in the same fashion. Nike may have a long history of running kicks, but walkers were important, too – especially back in the 1980s.

With that in mind, the Swoosh added a walking shoe to the newfangled Air Max lineup in 1988. Simply dubbed the Air Walker Max, the kicks were essentially a heavier, more supportive take on the Air Max 1 that went all-in on the structure of a leather upper while its aesthetic was one part AM1, one part Air Revolution – a strapped, high-top basketball sneaker that shared tooling with a little silhouette called the Air Jordan 3. Rightly billed as ‘the pinnacle of Air’ upon its 2017 debut, Nike’s breakthrough VaporMax unit acted as both midsole and outsole as new technologies allowed Nike’s designers to incorporate the air and exterior layer into a single holistic unit that could maintain its form with elasticity. That flexible 360-degree unit was then paired with the slickest Flyknit upper to date, creating the sleekest Air Max offering of all time. The Nike Swoosh is made from patent leather, and this glossy finish extends towards the collar and ankle sections.Yes, a lot like a particular web-slinging superhero. A dash of leather wraps around the sidewalls, and this material extends towards the tongue and heel panels, both of which are inlaid with the Air Max Plus’ signature hexagonal badging. The Air Max 1’s best-known successor, the Air Max 90 came packed with more Air in the heel and a more technical design, featuring variable-width forefoot eyelets. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the Air Max 90 was first known as the Air Max 3 and launched in ‘Hyper Orange.’ Retro releases after the year 2000 re-monikered the shoe as the Air Max 90 and the ‘Infrared’ nickname became more commonplace.

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