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Classics Revisited: Nike Air Max ’96 (1996)

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Nike Air Max reinvented the Running Sneaker with the unprecedented visible Air bag with the Air Max 1, but what followed was a string of groundbreaking designs penned by the world’s greatest footwear architects in history. Nike has displayed a strong effort in giving these classic models an honorable tribute, most notably with the late-2005 celebration of ‘History of Air’, which focused on the Air Max 1, Air Max 90, Air 180, Air Max 93, Air Max 95, and Air Max 97 – all leading up to the 2006 debut of the first-ever 360-degree Max Air unit in the Air Max 360. We’ve revisited those models plenty of times and even today, Nike Sportswear continues to depend on those heritage models to keep the spirit alive, but how about the other annual models that haven’t seen much sun? This week, Sneaker News will focus on five different Air Max models that are equally as magnificent as the headlining bunch, but not nearly as recognized. We’ll kick things off with the Air Total Max from 1996, or better recognized as the Air Max 96.

A year prior to the Air Max 96, Nike design lead Sergio Lozano shattered the norm with the Air Max 95 and its outrageous design highlighted by the multi-compartment Max Air bag with varying PSi grades. Lozano followed that up with the equally enticing Air Max 96, inheriting the same Max Air bag concept with slightly altered tooling with a redesigned upper that mimicked the flowing waves of the ocean. Four original colorways were released (two for men, two for women, all detailed below) and the shoes were produced in South Korea and in Vietnam. The most recognized colorway is the Black/Dark Concord, which originally featured a Scream Green Max Air bubble in its Sample stage and later released with a black unit. To this day, the Nike Air Max ’96 remains a true original, although the Air Max ’96 design infrastructure was used in the Nike Air Max 180 ’96 (2007) and the Air Max ’96 Evolve (2012). Nike also flirted with a Retro release in 2007, but that route never went beyond the Sample stage, although two samples that did surface continue to be hot collectors items. Take a trip down memory lane as we kick off a week of Air Max homage in Classics Revisited with the Air Max ’96!

Nike Air Max 96

Black/Dark Concord-White-Metallic Silver
Photo: hamaken

White/Obsidian-Scream Green
Photo: hamaken 

White/Varsity Royal-Photo Blue
Photo: koolkicks 

White/Mystic Teal-Midnight Navy
Photo: fruition

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