Nike Air Max
Air Max is a revolutionary footwear cushioning created by sports athletics brand Nike. The idea of encapsulating Air into a cushion was first thought up by Marion Franklin Rudy, an aerospace engineer. He presented his idea to Nike founder Phil Knight in 1977, who was very intrigued by the idea after testing a prototype running shoe. Air cushioning was used in Nike running footwear as far back as 1978 with the Air Tailwind running shoe. However, the Air was not visible as it was embedded into the sole.
Air Max didn’t come into the picture until 1987. Footwear designer Tinker Hatfield introduced the idea of making the Air cushioning visible to the eye, doing so on the Air Max 1 running shoe. At the time, running footwear was extremely plain, so he chose to do something completely different to align with the changing times of pop culture. So, the Air Max 1, the first sneaker with visible Air, debuted in 1987. Since then, a long history of Air Max running shoes have released, each named after the year it was released. Air Maxes are considered to be extremely important to sneaker culture as many collectors searched far and wide for limited editions and collaborations with Parra, Sean Wotherspoon, and atmos.
Air Max is certainly not specifically for running shoes. Visible Air was used across all sports models such as basketball, training, and much more. Any sneaker with a visible Air bubble is considered “Air Max”, however it is more appropriately used to refer to running sneakers. The most popular Air Max sneakers are the Air Max 1, the Air Max 90, Air Max 95, and Air Max 97. Nike continues to make newer models such as the Air Max 270 and Air Max 2090. Air Max, as a cushion, has been mostly phased out of running footwear, but it is still in use in basketball and training.
Nike has plans to continue producing new Air Max models for lifestyle/casual wear, while the older models will continue to be the focus of special editions, collaborations, re-issues, and more.