Visible Heat: Nike Air Max 1 Gems Over The Years
Today, Nike Sportswear celebrated Air Max Day on a global scale with the original Air Max 1 at the center of attention. On this day twenty-seven years ago, Nike released the first sneaker with visible Air, and from that shoe an endless string of footwear followed. While the original Tinker Hatfield design popped up a few times throughout the 90’s, it was the 21st Century that revitalized the shoe and re-established it as one of the best sneakers ever created, and while the original “Sport Red” colorway still possesses the rebellious heritage of the brand, there were several other notables that made the Air Max 1 such an icon.
This collection of Air Max 1 releases celebrates all the gems that released over the years, and this mix of limited-edition collaborations and subdued general releases speaks volumes of how irresistible this shoe us. Big names like Japan’s atmos and Amsterdam’s Parra will be common themes here, but a near-perfect re-issue from 2002 deserves plenty of notice as well. Check out this collection of AM1 bangers and let us know which of these are in your personal collections!
atmos x Nike Air Max 1 “Viotech” – 2003
atmos is a name that’s bound to come up again and again when discussing the greatest of Nike Air Max styles out there. The Nike Air Max 1 in particular has sort of been their calling card over the years. It all started with this 2003 hit, which featured a sublime mixture of tan and mocha tones along with “Viotech” purple for the side Swoosh and metallic gold in the accents.
Nike Air Max 1 “Book of Ones” – 2004
Nike’s “Book of Ones” pack paid tribute to a handful of the harder-hitting “1” styles in their catalog; amongst them the Nike Air Trainer 1, Nike Air Force 1, and the Nike Air Max 1. The result for the latter was this stony colorway, along with some sought after sample pairs that spiced things up quite a bit with their cork textures.
Ben Drury x Nike Air Max 1 “Hold Tight” – 2006
UK artist and Mo’ Wax image man Ben Drury linked up with Nike Sportswear for this reflective Nike Air Max 1, which featured a radio-signal inspired graphic emitting from the back side of the sneaker. The shoe was part of the wider ranging “Air You Breathe” collection and is no doubt the most sought after of the bunch to this day.
Nike Air Max 1 Original Mesh “Varsity Royal” – 2002
Up until 2002 Nike only retroed the Air Max 1 in its original colorways once. This 2002 Retro satisfied the hunger for those original looks and featured the slightly strange “Original Mesh” designation on the box tag.
Nike Air Max 1 iD by CLOT for Kanye West – 2007
This Nike Air Max 1 iD creation by Edison Chen of CLOT fame is sort of a strange model that toes the line of the collab realm. The sneakers were created as a friends in family exclusive that coincide with Chen’s opening for Kanye West at the Hong Kong leg of the 2005/06 “Touch the Sky” tour.
Parra x Patta x Nike Air Max 1 – 2010
Dutch artist Parra teamed up with Amsterdam sneaker store Patta and the rest is history. This 2010 pair was lusted after from the moment the first images leaked, and ended up nearly impossible to grab when it finally showed up in stores-with just a handful of spots across the world receiving stock.
Nike Air Max 1 “Curry” – 2003
This rather plain colorway dubbed the “Curry” for the aptly colored upper was one of the true cult hits of the model. While a plain GR on the surface, these became one of the most sought-after 87s on the market and stands as an exemplar of how basic color-blocking should be done.
Kid Robot x Nike Air Max 1 – 2005
There were actually two Kid Robot Nike Air Max 1 styles back in 2005: this pair that showed up exclusively at Barneys in NY and the pink/orange friends and family exclusive. The released version features a top notch black leather build with some pink touches that was intended as a tribute to the Maserati Quattroporte III Royale, according to Kid Robot designers Paul Budnitz & Chad Phillips. Don’t forget about the blind-chase sockliners and special keychain that came with.
atmos x Nike Air Max 1 “Animal” – 2006
atmos has a tendency to bring animal prints into the mix for their Air Max collabs. Most recently we saw those two camo versions from last year rock with leopard and snake prints, but before that it was the Nike Air Max 1 “Animal”. The sneaker, which released alongside a similar Nike Air Max 95, wears zebra, tiger, and cheetah patterning across its pony hair upper.
Dave White x Nike Air Max 1 “Wet Paint” – 2006
Dave White went on a bit of a crusade for the Nike Air Max 95, bringing its “Neon” palette onto a host of other classic Air Max silhouettes. The Nike Air Max 1 “Wet Paint”, created for the 10th anniversary of UK sneaker chain Size? back in 2006, ended up as one of the more precious pairs, with just 250 releasing worldwide.
atmos x Nike Air Max 1 “Safari” – 2003
Long before we reached the current point of Safari saturation atmos came with this Nike Air Max 1, which featured the namesake print on the mudguard wrap and up around the collar. This 2003 release again consisted of the Nike Air Max 1 B build with the mini Swoosh on the toe and the big Swoosh on the back end where you’d normally see the “Nike Air” hit.
atmos x Nike Air Max 1 – 2007
This 2007 effort brought to life the famed Elephant Print from the Air Jordan III. Combined with a black and aqua upper, this installment of the atmos x Nike Air Max 1 series was one of the best sneaker releases of 2007 and stands as one of the most hunted-after pairs ever.
Patta x Nike Air Max 1 “Chlorophyll” – 2009
Patta were really getting busy with the Nike Air Max 1s back in 2009. Before their Parra team up blew the world away the next year there were slightly more conspicuous pairs like the “Chlorophyll”, which stuck with some OG blocking and boasted a denim twill construction. Also releasing for that year’s 5th anniversary celebrations were the purple, black, and corduroy pairs.
Nike Air Max 1 “Urawa Dragons” – 2004
The Nike Air Max 1 “Urawa” showed up as a Japan only release back in 2004 that referenced the Urawa Dragons team in the Japanese Football League. The pair managed to swipe the “Nike Air” embroidery off the backside in favor of a slithering logo borrowed from the team in question.
Parra x Nike Air Max 1 “Amsterdam” – 2005
This 2005 release pegged Dutch artist Parra to design the Air Max 1. Using colors that are common themes from his artwork, Parra finished up perhaps one of the best Air Max 1 releases in history.