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Air cushioning sneakers undoubtedly did succeed all around the globe. Surpassing competing brands' flagship models in popularity, the Air Max Nike series recognizability has been secured for a long time. On the top of that, ever since their rise, the urban fashion around the world has been dancing to the Air Max tune.

Even the very first Air Max design were praised so high, that today dozens of diverse Air Max variants still triumph on store shelves. Since the first release, Nike has taken its flagship product to the new level and kept pushing the boundaries in redefining the meaning of cushioning. Delving into the history of the brand, we'd like to present the 10 most popular Air Max models.

Nike Air Max 1

  March 26, 1987 was a breakthrough not only for Nike, but also for the entire sneakers world. On that day the Oregon manufacturer released the Air Max 1 model - the first ever to offer a visible cushioning system based on gas filled pods. Nike has embraced a then-risky idea of ​​putting those pods on full display. They made transparent windows in the soles through which the shock-absorbing pods could be seen. Initially, Nike feared of the users that would intentionally pierce pillows to get money off complaints, but in fact Nike Air Max 1 received a warm welcome.  

Nike Air Max 90

During the 90s, Nike's flagship series was thriving. The boom was began with the releasing of Air Max 90, the second most popular model of the brand to this day. 90s were designed Tinker Hatfield, the creator of the legendary "ones". He gave 90s a more dynamic look and new material - combined skin and synthetic suede. Initially, the shoes were called Air Max III, but after resuming the series 10 years later, they were renamed. Air Max 90 in general had many reissues. To this day, the cult sneakers keep coming in ever cooler reiterations.

Nike Air Max 180  i 95

This model owes its name to the cushioning system, for the 1st time visible in 180 degrees. On the top of that, the system was half more effective. Air Max were released in several colorways, but they all followed the same pattern. The upper retained its white color, and the particular colorways were distinguished with the colors of the details. The Swoosh and the frame of the Air pod window was different each time. While the first half of the 90s was Air Max III's time, the second was ruled by Nike Air Max 95. Otherwise called Air Total Max. Incidentally, they were not developed by Tinker Hatfield but Sergio Lozano. The inspiration was human anatomy, and more precisely - the spine, ribs and tendons. On this basis, he worked on improving the cushioning system. As a result, the new Air Max sneakers the air cushion pods were located not only under the heel but also in the front of the shoe.


Nike Air Max 97

Nike Air Max 97 was the first with gas cushioning system applied under the entire length of the foot. The design was supposedly inspired by a Japanese, super fast bullet-train - Shinkansen. As does the train, the sneaker resembles a bullet just fired. Interestingly, the Air Max 97 were additionally supplemented with reflective elements taken from 3M in order to increase the visibility of runners at night. However, as the designer Christian Tresser admitted years later, the one and only inspiration for this design was a drop hitting the water.


Nike Air Max 2003 i Air Max 360

These models clearly make the use of their two predecessors' innovations. Nike Air Max 2003 was created by Air Max 95 designer - Sergio Lozano. He attempted to design a sole made of a gas cushion pods only, but it was impossible at that time. Instead, he took the cushion pod from Air Max 97, but used it to increase the flexibility of the sole. Interestingly, the design was minimal. The flashy colors, among other details, were dropped in exhange for a simple and universal white.
In 2006, finally, Nike achieved what it has been trying to from very beginning of the Air Max series. Foam layers were eliminated from the soles, allowing users to "walk on the air". Along with the cushioning, the stabilization was increased. When it comes to the looks, the Air Max 1 colorway was revived, along with the Air Max 95 windows that allowed the gas cushioning to be visible. The Air Max 2006 model got a new name - Air Max 360.

Nike Air Max+ 2009

In these very sneakers, the Air Max system has been ultimately "set free". The air cushion was taken from Air Max 360 and its successors - models 360 II and 360 III. However, no frame was used for the pods, so the entire system was totally visible along the entire length of the foot. The continuation of this trend can be observed, among others, in Nike Vapormax.

Nike Air Vapormax

Looking at these sneakers, you can wonder if it is still shoes at all. Certainly, it's miles away from any regular sneakers. The shock-absorption system reached its perfection here. As in some of the previous Air Max models, the soles are only gas cushions. The difference isthat they do not compose a single unit. Instead, the system consists of crystal-like unites, placed in the strategic parts of the sole. This allows Nike Air Vapormax to provide cushioning that seems to break the laws of the gravity. This line takes over the Air Max heritage, taking it to the completely new level.  


Nike Air Max Zero

  The last, but not least, Air Max model we discuss is the one that was designed first. And it's not the cult "ones". Not at all. Before Air Max 1 there was merely an idea for a shoe that would definitely be more technologically advanced. At that time, however, it was not possible to make one. So the idea was revived after 29 (!) years. This is how Nike Air Max Zero was born. It brought the series to its roots, thus being the last - and the first - chapter of the series' story.

The Nike Air Max models presented above were milestones for globally loved sneakers series. With each subsequent release, the brand's designers kept proving that they can push the boundaries even further. Judging from what we saw, they are not going to stop at all.


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