Go to any uni campus in the world and you’re bound to see a pair of Nike Air Max or two. Here’s the history and culture behind the student staple.
What is Air Max Day?
Air Max Day is the celebration of when the first ever Air Max model hit the market, held on the 26th of March each year. It may sound like just another corporate holiday (and it kind of is to an extent), but there’s a lot more to it than that.
The first Nike Air Max changed the game when it came to fashion, design and engineering. Legendary designer Tinker Hatfield (who also cooked up some of the most iconic Jordans) was inspired by The Centre Pompidou in Paris and produced the first ever Nike shoe with a visible air unit.
Air Max Day is commemorated with exclusive releases, collaborations and events in the sneaker space, but you can celebrate by just wearing your favourite pair.
How many Air Max models are there?
A lot. Over the years many silhouettes of Air Max have come and gone, but here are the ones that stood the test of time:
- Air Max 1
- Air Max Light
- Air Max 90
- Air Max 180
- Air Max 93
- Air Max2 CB 94
- Air Max 95
- Air Max 96
- Air Max 97
- Air Max 98
- Air Max Plus
- Air Max 360
- Air VaporMax
- Air Max 270
- Air Max 720
As with anything trainer-related, not all Air Max models are created equal. Here’s a deep-dive into some of the more popular and influential silhouettes over the years.
Air Max 1
Let’s start at the beginning. The Air Max 1 first dropped in 1987 and, as mentioned above, changed the game. In terms of performance, design, and engineering, it was brand new.
The Air Max 1 is inoffensive, sleek and highly accessible to a general audience. There have been several iterations of the shoe since the 80s and several redesigns, reissues and change-ups. Here are some of the most iconic pairs;
- Nike Air Max 1 University Red / University Blue
- Nike x Atmos Air Max 1 Elephant
- Nike x Atmos Air Max 1 Animal Pack
- Nike x Patta Air Max 1 Chlorophyll & Purple Denim
Air Max 90
The start of the 90s saw a gritty, sturdier new look for the Air Max model, with the 90s looking more at home in the rave than they would be on the running track.
Again created by the OG Tinker Hatfield, the 90 is the blueprint for the 1 and turned everything up to 11 with a boxier design, bold infrared colourways and of course a bigger air unit.
- Nike Air Max 90 Infrared
- Nike Air Max 90 OG Volt
- Nike Air Max 90 Moon Landing
- Nike Air Max 90 Mars Landing
- Nike Air Max 90 London Underground
- Nike x Off White Air Max 90 The Ten (RIP Virgil Abloh)
Air Max 95
95s are an absolute student staple. Go to any city campus in the country and you’ll see at least 10 pairs absolutely cooked from murky house parties and DnB club nights. Not that that’s a bad thing.
95s are meant to be worn into the ground as the perfect everyday footwear. Created by Sergio Lozano the Air Max 95 was designed with cues from the human body, a lacing system inspired by a set of ribs, a spine-inspired outsole and a mesh and suede upper representing muscle fibres.
- Nike x Corteiz Air Max 95 Gutta Green
- Nike Air Max 95 Neon Green
- Nike Air Max 95 x Comme des Garcons
- Nike Air Max 95 Greedy
- Nike x Atmos Air Max 95 Animal Pack
- Nike Air Max 95 Cuban Link
Air Max 97
Arguably one of the most iconic Air Max silhouettes ever, the Air Max 97 is the epitome of what an Air Max should be. Sleek, performance-based, and instantly eye-catching.
The Air Max 97 was the first Air Max to feature a full-length air unit and was dropped in the now classic Silver Bullet colourway. Creator Christian Tresser was inspired by water ripples, mountain bikes and Japanese bullet trains when it came to the unique shape and design.
- Nike Air Max 97 Silver Bullet & Gold Bullet
- Nike Air Max 97 Neon Seoul
- Nike x Skepta Air Max 97 Ultra 17
- Nike Air Max 97 Shanghai Kaleidoscope
- Nike x Off White Air Max 97 Literally any colour (again, RIP Virgil Abloh)
What’s your favourite trainer? Join the Student Hut Community and let us know.