Nike Air Max

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The Air Max IV/Air Max 91; nowadays known as the Air Max BW (Big Window)

Nike Air Max is a line of shoes first released by Nike, Inc. in 1987. The shoe was originally designed by Tinker Hatfield, who started out working for Nike as an architect designing shops; he also designed many of the Air Jordan models.[1]


The Nike Air Max shoe uses a large air cushioning unit at the heel which is visible from the side of the midsole in most models. Types of Air Max cushioning include:

  • 180 Air in the early 1990s which was visible through the bottom of the shoe (although smaller portions of Air units are visible through the bottom of many Air Max models)
  • "Air Max2" which does not have the holes in the cushioning unit and is of high pressure,
  • "Tube Air" which is visible in several small circles on the midsole of the shoe,
  • "Total Air" which is another word for full Air Max cushioning,
  • "Tuned Air," which is a system of individual pods tuned to different areas of the foot.


Models include:

  • Air Max (commonly known as Air Max 1) - 1987
  • Air Stab - 1988
  • Air Max II (commonly known as Air Max Light) - 1989
  • Air Max III (commonly known as Air Max 90) - 1990
  • Air Max IV (commonly known as Air Max BW or Air Max Classic) - 1991
  • Air Structure Triax 91 - 1991
  • Air Max 180 - 1991
  • Air Max ST - 1992
  • Air Tailwind 92 - 1992
  • Air Max 93 (also known as Air Max 270) - 1993
  • Air Max 2 - 1994
  • Air Max 2 Charles Barkley 34 (commonly known as Air Max CB 34) - 1994
  • Air Max Triax 94 - 1994
  • Air Max Light 2 - 1994
  • Air Max 95 - 1995
  • Air Max Racer - 1995
  • Air Max 96 - 1996
  • Air Max 96 II
  • Air Max 97
  • Air Max 98
  • Air Max 98 II
  • Air Max 99
  • Air Max Pillar
  • Air Max Posterize SL
  • Air Max Deluxe
  • Air Max 2000
  • Air Max Plus (commonly known as Air Max TN)
  • Air Max Ltd - 2002
  • Air Max 2003
  • Air Max 2004
  • Air Max Destined - 2006
  • Air Max 360 - 2006
  • Air Max 180 - 2006
  • Air Max 360 - 2007
  • Air Max 180 II - 2008
  • Air Max Elite
  • Air Max 180 III - 2008
  • Air Max T-Zone - 2009
  • Air Max Skyline
  • Air Max 2009
  • Air Max 90 Current - 2009 (redesign of the Air Max 90, with the most obvious change, the toe box)
  • Air Maxim - 2009 (redesign of the Air Max 1, featuring Flywire or torch materials)
  • Air Max BW Gen II - 2010 (redesign of the Air Max BW, featuring torch material)
  • Air Max 2010
  • Air Max Tailwind+ 2
  • Air Max Trainer 1
  • Air Max Trainer 1+ (Nike Air Max Trainer 1 with Flywire, toe strap, and 360 Air Max Technology)
  • Air Max Turbulence - 2010
  • Air Max 2011
  • "Air Max Command
  • Air Max 24/7
  • Air Max+ 2012
  • Air Max+ 2013
  • Air Max Defy Run
  • "Air Max Minot
  • "Air Max Motion
  • Air Max+ 2014
  • "Air Max Direct
  • Flyknit Air Max
  • "Fingertrap Max
  • "Nike Air Foamposite Pro" 2015 September 15

The 1993 model was the first to have the fully visible heel Air unit that was visible in the back as well as on the sides, and the 1995 model was the first to feature visible forefoot Air. The 1997 model was the first to include a full length Air bag.

Culture and fashion

File:First air classic.jpg
Air Max IV/BW in its original "Persian Blue" colourway

The line of sneakers is popular amongst many subcultures, for example Hip Hop, Gabber and the working class.

In the mid-1990s the line, especially the Air Max 95 model, experienced such a surge of popularity in Japan that it led to a phenomenon known as "Air Max hunting". The extremely inflated prices of the shoes led to a rash of muggings in the normally-peaceful country wherein Air Max wearers were attacked and their shoes were stolen. Even used shoes were in demand, and fakes also became a serious problem.[2]

Air Max Light

Released in 1989 as the Air Max II, the Air Max Light is a running shoe, a successor to the Air Max. It weighed less than the original, achieved by replacing the forefoot polyurethane midsole with one made of EVA foam. Re-released in 2007, the Nike has continued to release additional colorways.

Air Max 90

File:Air max 90.JPG
Air Max 90 CL
File:Leather Air max 90.JPG
Leather Air max 90

Known as the Air Max III until 2000, when it was reissued taking its name from the year of its launch year. The original colourway of white/black/cool grey with infrared was chosen to exaggerate the thickness of the sole air cushion. Nike specially designed a pair of Nike Air Max 90s for President George H.W. Bush. Images of the customized sneakers have been seen around the Department of Nike Archives, and feature AIR PRES branding along with what appears to be an entirely unique colorway.

Air Max 95

The visual design of the Air Max 95 was created by Sergio Lozano who based the design of the Air Max 95 on the human anatomy, with the spine of the shoe resembling the human spine and the materials intended to represent skin, ribs, and tendons.[3] The Air Max 95 was the first pair in the line to utilize two air cushions in the forefoot and used air pressure technology to fit the curvature of the wearer's forefoot.[4]

According to a 2007 tabloid newspaper study of the UK Forensic Science Service's database of footwear, the Nike Air Max 95 was "criminals' number one choice" in footwear.[5]

The product was referenced in the hip hop song "Hate It or Love It" by The Game, which was a worldwide top 10 hit in 2005. Also referenced by rappers Gucci Mane in the hit single "Bricks" and Waka Flocka Flame on the track "Head First" in his 2009 mixtape, "Lebron Flocka James". The rapper Eminem designed a limited-edition range of Air Maxes sold for charity.[6]

Air Max 360

File:Air max 360.JPG
2006 Nike Air Max 360
File:Nike Air Max 90 x 360 Hybrid.jpg
Nike Air Max 90 x 360 Hybrid

On 21 January 2006 Nike launched the Air Max 360, a new shoe design that utilized Max Air throughout the shoes midsole.

In September 2006 Nike introduced a special 'one time only pack' which fused the 360 model with three classics. The three shoes used were the Air Max 90, Air Max 95, and Air Max 97. For this special release, the design of the 360 sole was used in place of the normal sole of the three classics. The shoes were released in the three original colors: red for the Air Max 90, green/yellow for the Air Max 95, and grey/silver for the Air Max 97. Like other Air Max releases, deluxe editions were also produced. These deluxe editions lasted for about 500 miles (800 km) before their shock absorbing properties deteriorated. The use of '360' of air cushioning is meant to ensure the shoes longevity.


The shoes were initially advertised in 1987 with a TV campaign that used the Beatles' song "Revolution", the first time a Beatles song had been used in a TV commercial.[7] The following year, Nike used the Just Do It slogan.[8] They were also endorsed by Bo Jackson in exchange for a $100,000 fee, with advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy coming up with the slogan "Bo knows...".[9]


  1. Reidy, Tess (14 December 2013). "Nike's iconic Air Max trainer celebrates 25th anniversary with Tinker Hatfield". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 23 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Lev, Michael A. (November 17, 1996). "`Air Max Hunting' Shocks Japan -- Holdups, Beatings Blamed On Mania For Used Sneakers". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Jon Clements (2007-06-27), "YOU'RE NIKED!", Daily Mirror,, retrieved 5 June 2009<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "People: Eminem, Gong Li, Keith Richards - Arts & Leisure - International Herald Tribune". New York Times. Retrieved 23 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Wong, Glenn M (2012). The Comprehensive Guide to Careers in Sports. Jones & Bartlett. p. 232.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Carbasho, Tracy (2010). Nike. ABC-CLIO. p. 15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Cashmore, Ellis; Ernest Cashmore (2010). Making Sense of Sports. Taylor & Francis. p. 423.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links