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A Brief History Lesson Of The Timeless Nike Air Max Line

A brief history lesson about the origins of the Air Max line.

nike air max

Quick! Off the dome…When you think of Nike, what is the one sneaker you think of? We’re willing to bet that a large portion of you will most likely say “Air Max”. Right?

Nike, the biggest footwear company in the world has released thousands upon thousands of sneakers since it’s inception back in 1964, when the brand was known as Blue Ribbon Sports. The fact that Nike’s Air Max line still manages to stand out from the plethora amount of sneakers that Nike has ever released, just goes to show how iconic and timeless the Air Max line truly is. That being the case, today we will give you a quick history lesson to the origins of the Air Max line.

First things first, what exactly is “Air Max”?

Nike’s Air Cushioning Technology was introduced way back in 1979. Nike’s Air Cushioning technology is basically a technique where you embed Air Cushioning in the midsoles of sneakers. By doing so, this changed the entire landscape of the way the athlete approached and reacted to athletic performance forever.

Although Air Cushioning Technology was introduced in 1979, it was not until 1987 that Air Max was introduced to the world. During those eight years, Nike needed to figure out a way to make their latest Air Cushioning Technology even better and place it onto the limelight.

Over time, the Air component became larger which resulted in greater cushioning, comfort and reduced weight. Additionally, Nike also figured out a way to make the Air Cushioning visible. The Air Max line was born.

The first Nike Air Max sneaker to release to the public was the Nike Air Max 1. Making its debut in 1987, the running model was able to stand out thanks in large part to the Air Cushioning unit being visible on the midsole. Those small visible air bags you see on your favorite Nike Air Max models are flexible urethane pouches filled with pressurized gas.

Not only did it give the shoe a modern and trendy aesthetic (remember, this shoe released in 1987), the air bags also provided the wearer with an improved cushioned underfoot. In other words, Nike managed to combine fashion and performance on to one shoe.

Sidenote: Although many people seem to think that Tinker Hatfield created Air Max, he actually conceptualized the Air Max designs, while M. Frank Rudy was the actual man who created and patented the underlying Air Max technology.

The Air Max Line

Soon after the Air Max 1 released (1987), Nike followed it up with the Air Max 2 aka Nike Air Max Light in 1989. This model weighed less than the original by replacing the forefoot polyurethane midsole with EVA foam.

In 1990, Nike dropped their third Air Max sneaker known as the AM3, but better known as the Air Max 90. As the years went by, Nike kept dishing out fresh and new Air Max models such as the Nike Air Max 180, Nike Air Max 93, 95, 97, 98. Air Max Plus, Air Max 180. I can go on and on. Fast-forward to the present day, and Nike continues to drop new Air Max models such as the Air Max 270, Air VaporMax and Air Max 720.

Although it’s been close to 33 years since the Air Max line was created, many would argue that the Air Max line is as popular today than it ever has. Considered a staple in streetwear fashion, the Air Max line has also managed to become a sneaker that many people from all walks of life have gravitate to thanks in large part to its trendy, versatile and cool aesthetic. Which leads to our next question. What’s your favorite Air Max model of all-time?