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STYLE ADVICE

TOP 10 NIKE AIR MAX

By Gavin Jewkes, 25 March 2017

Call it Christmas for sneakerheads, Hanukkah for hypebeasts or New Year for the newness obsessed – Nike’s annual celebration of its signature shoes, Air Max Day, kicks into action again on March 26. But before you settle on a style from the iconic sneaker series to step into on the day, get inspired as we take a look back at the Nike Air Max line’s most popular shoes – including the new addition to the Nike family, the VaporMax.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max 1

It’s a shoe that’s older than we are, but it remains handsome and relevant to this day. In 1987, Nike released the Air Max 1 – a piece of groundbreaking design, which, for the first time, gave consumers a view of the Air Sole unit that underpinned the comfort and performance of designer Tinker Hatfield’s celebrated Nike Airs. Yup, this was the birth of ‘visible air’, inspired by the architecture of Paris’ Pompidou Centre – a building that looks like it’s been sprung inside out, boasting inner workings that are visible through its exterior.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max 90

Born in 1990 (hence the name), the third addition to the Air Max posse features a load more Air than its predecessors, which lends it a supremely springy feel. But it’s for reasons more than just comfort that it’s taken the world by storm. This style also brings with it subtler Nike branding, which allows for a stronger design and more experimental approach to colour than the sneakers that came before it. As a result, the Air Max 90 helped accelerate Nike’s move into the fashion sphere.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max 180

Double the visible air, double the fun – the advent of the Air Max 180 threw down the cushioned gauntlet with an air unit that’s 50% larger than previous designs. The upper features an inner sleeve that stretches to match the shape of the foot (hello, slipper-like levels of comfort!), and its cartoonish colourway looks rad and kicks out a strong 90s aroma. Sadly, they’re pretty rare nowadays – so if you’ve still got a pair, hold them close and never let go.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max 93

Like the bumper on a car, the air unit on these bad boys wraps around the back of the shoe with 270 degrees of pure visible air. The precision-engineered blow-moulded air unit (inspired by plastic milk jugs, no less) was a game changer and the style fast established itself as a footwear design classic.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max 95

Some call it the ugly duckling of the Air Max clan, but we frickin’ love the 95. It was the first style to feature visible Nike Air in the forefoot and a black midsole, which marks it out as something of an outsider. But its fresh-as-hell silhouette and quirky, futuristic design continues to win diehard sneaker fans over, and earned it a refresh to celebrate its 20th anniversary two years ago. #NikeFact – the human body inspires the design. The midsole is based on the spine, the eyelets represent the ribs, and the layered panels and mesh symbolise muscle fibres and flesh. Tasty.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max 97

Proof that supersizing isn’t just the preserve of American fast-food joints, Nike went large with its air unit in the Air Max 97 (it literally stretches the full length of the shoe). Inspired by Tokyo’s lightening-fast bullet trains, this design looks sharp and has a cool sense of fluidity to it. But it’s not one for the more conservative sneaker fan, as its silvery upper catches the eye like an absolute beaut.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max 360

If you don’t reckon it’s possible to walk on air, think again. The Air Max 360 comes kitted out with 360 degrees of cushioning and a sole that features minimal foam. She’s very pretty, but you’re unlikely to catch sight of her as Nike only released a limited number back in the day.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max Plus

Also known as the TN or Tuned 1, the Nike Air Max Plus is one of the brand’s most iconic styles – and it’s not hard to see why when you take into consideration its multiple air units, alien-like exoskeleton and ombre colourway. Again, this is a shoe reserved for the more intrepid sneaker fans but, worn with confidence, it’s easy to style the Air Max Plus out like a beast.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air Max Zero

Nike design head honcho Tinker Hatfield designed the Zero before the Air Max 1. So, it’s the one before the one, if you like. The only reason it wasn’t released back in the 80s was because the technology and materials weren’t refined enough to do the design justice. But come Air Max Day 2015, the Swoosh finally unleashed the Zero on an grateful sneakerdom.

top 10 nike air max

Picture: Nike


Nike Air VaporMax

And so to 2017, when Nike marks its annual big day with a fresh gift to the trainer-obsessed masses: the VaporMax. The lightest Air Max ever with a fully Flyknit upper, the VaporMax took 7 years of testing and production to create. That’s because it’s the first Air Max iteration that doesn’t feature any kind of midsole/outsole to house the Air unit – instead the signature cushioning is fixed directly to the upper and treads straight on the floor. Tech-wizardry aside, the new kick also boast serious fashion chops, having already appeared in collaborative versions from Comme de Garçcons and Marc Newson.

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