• Brooke Brennan

The Shoes That Changed It All: Air Max 1s

From 1987 to now, Air Maxes have taken over every aspect of comfort, function, and popularity. We have Air Max 90s, 95s, 97s, and more. But the respect is due to the original sole: Air Max 1s. With revolutionary Air technology and an architectural approach to the design, this was a sneaker that the world had never seen before, but left an unwavering imprint.

High Snob Society

The beginning years of what we now know as Nike were turbulent for Phil Knight and his team (recommendation: read his book Shoe Dog to learn all about Nike before it was the empire we know today). But specifically, the 80s were a time where Nike was trying to become more integrated into the running community. They worked long and hard trying to find a cutting-edge feature to add to running shoes. In the late 1970s, the Nike Air Tailwind was the first shoe to incorporate Air into the sole. This Air sole helped runners perform while adding extreme comfort and support. In 1981, an architect by the name of Tinker Hatfield was brought in by Nike to design buildings in Oregon. But little did anyone know that in four years, Tinker Hatfield would be asked to design a shoe. Using his architectural background, Hatfield began to design his first shoe, starting a collection of revolutionary sneakers: the Air Max 1.

His design journey began in Paris. Hatfield was intrigued by The Pompidou Center–a building where the inner-workings of the architecture were revealed on the outside. He took this idea and applied it to designing his first shoe, wanting a detail of the shoe to reveal the air bubble on the inside. Not only was this the first time a shoe would reveal the inside, but also one of the first shoes to incorporate an air bubble. This revolutionary new technology and design paved the way for future Nike sneakers.

High Snob Society

The Air Max 1 was released in 1987 in the OG colorway “University Red.” This was seemingly colorful compared to other shoes at this time, but has now become a signature colorway for Nike. And instantly, the world fell in love with Air Max 1s. From running track to running errands, Air Max 1s have proved to be the perfect shoe for functionality, durability, and comfort. And just as Tinker Hatfield intended, they are easily recognizable from far away.

Untraditionally, Nike safeguarded this shoe from changes until 1992. They began testing out small changes, such as a Jewel Swoosh in 1996 and a mini Swoosh on the toe in 1997. It wasn’t until 2002 that Nike allowed an Air Max 1 collaboration. Yes, Nike waited 15 years to release Air Max 1s into the realm of collaborations. However, we still thank Nike for the collaborations we have now. The most notable and sought-after collabs come from Atmos, Patta, Parra, and the various diverse colorways.

Sneaker Freaker

While most own a pair of Air Maxes, anyone can celebrate Nike’s Air Max Day. On March 26, Nike celebrates all Air Maxes. From releasing new colorways, to sales, to paying homage to new releases, mark your calendars now. Air Max 1s have stood the test of time, remaining a staple as a revolutionary, trendsetting shoe. Air technology and University Red are now staples in Nike shoes. And most importantly, Tinker Hatfield never disappoints. From Air Max 1s to Jordans; thank you, Tinker Hatfield, for the work you do.