When the word “Nike” is being mentioned in a conversation, one thing always penetrates the mind of the listener--Air. Air-sole, to be more specific. The only explanation for it is that almost all Nike shoes are infused with Air Max bubbles, in a general sense. The mischievous windows on the heel or forefoot are not only accessories or accents of design but serve a significant purpose in keeping the shoe light and heavenly.
Going back to the Nike and Air topic, the Air bubble was the huge factor for the Oregon company’s malevolent surge to the top of the sneaker food chain today. One might argue that there are the Cortez’s and the Blazers still so, yes, we get it. But regarding revenue and concurrent limelight stature, these Nike Air Max shoes hoard the market like a hungry pack of sled dogs.
Understanding the visible Air-bubble franchise should take us to the pinnacle iterations that were ever produced. Below is a ranking of the most watched-out kicks on the Nike Air Max pantheon.
Most hyped Nike shoes under the Air Max category
Since the dawn of its time, Nike Air Max sneakers were already coveted thanks to the relevant entrance of its inaugural silhouette not to mention the built-up sneaker momentum from the Jordan franchise. These attributes catapulted the audience’ inclination to Nike more and more as the years progressed.
For the basis of sneakerhead congruence, some rather irrelevant Air Max models were left out. And please, try not to sleep on these Nike Air Max shoes.
Nike Air Max 1
Every extravagant event that happened in nature is most likely sparked by something powerful, like that of a big bang. In the case of the Air Max line, the one triggering the chain reaction of events was the 1987 release of the Air Max I.
Blast from the past:
The first Air Max was unveiled on March 26, 1987.
It was created by Tinker Hatfield, an in-house architect hired in 1981 but pursued a career in shoe design in 1985.
It was one of the pieces under the “Air Pack” which includes the Air Trainer 1, Air Sock, and Air Safari.
Air Max Fun Fact #1 - The Nike Air Max 1 was inspired by the eccentric design of the Centre Georges Pompidou in France.
The Air Max 1, or the Air Max 87 as some might dub it, showcased for the first time the coveted visible Nike Air-Sole technology on the heel.
Air Max Fun Fact#2 - Frank Rudy was the pioneer behind the design of the Air bubble, and it was first included in the Nike Air Tailwind.
The original assembly of the Air Max 1 (AM 1) consists of suede and mesh.
The famous white, grey and red Nike shoes for the Air Max 1 catalog were the original colors used for the 1987 release.
A leather version was released in 1988.
Since it was launched, many versions of the AM 1 had surfaced.
Artists, sneaker boutiques, fashion designers, and many more exciting icons resorted to the shoe to showcase their creative input.
To date, the Air Max 1 has a similar status with the Air Force 1 in terms of numerous revamps.
Hybrids were born with the sneaker in mind including the Nike Air Max 1/97 SW (Sean Wotherspoon) and the Nike Air Max 90/1.
The cleanest-looking of them all would probably be the Triple white Nike shoes in the Air Max 1 category.
Nike Air Max 90
Following the boldness of the Air Max 1 was a rather ambitious spectacle to defeat. So in the case of the Air Max line, they waited a few years to produce another hot commodity that would battle the glory of its predecessor. Sorry, Air Max II. You don’t deserve us.
Blast from the past:
The Nike Air Max III, or shall hence be known as the Air Max 90, was, as obviously evident with the name, released in 1990.
Tinker Hatfield, being the prolific designer as he was on an early stage, created its design.
AM Fun Fact #3 - The Air bubble originally consisted of sulfur hexafluoride but was later changed to nitrogen due to the harmful effects of the former.
It was initially launched in a Hyvent Orange colorway which fans later dubbed as Infrared.
AM Fun Fact #4 - Though widely recognized as Infrared, the initial AM 90 release does not really display a true Infrared hue.
The structure of the Air Max 90 is basically the same as the AM 1 except for the mudguard and polyurethane (PU) details on the heel.
Many materials already went through with this silhouette including leather, synthetic leather, textile, and many more.
Most of the current designs of the AM 90 still sport the waffle outsole.
AM Fun Fact #5 - The waffle outsole is an invention of Bill Bowerman where he poured hot rubber in his wife’s waffle iron.
Even though the sneaker was a heralding follow-up to the AM 1, it took 12 years before it was retroed.
A hyperfused version was eventually introduced coming in numerous forms including one in Solar Red, Volt, Olympic, and many more.
The Nike men’s Air Max 90 Essential shoes are some of the updated examples bearing the AM 90 design palette.
Nike Air Max 95
Ever since the incarnation of humanity, technology and innovation have pulled out hints from nature for inspiration. No one ever knew that a brilliant shoe design lies within the depths of one’s skin. Or torso, perhaps.
Blast from the past:
The Nike AM 95 was released numerous times on 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2015.
The initial colorway was called Neon distinguished by its bright rib-like eyelets in a toned down grey upper.
It was designed by a striving young designer named Sergio Lozano.
AM Fun Fact #6 - Resell market for the AM 95 way back in the mid-90s reached a staggering $3000 value.
The AM 95’s main design basis comes from the human anatomy.
It was one of the first Nike Air Max shoes on sale that features a forefoot Air bubble.
AM Fun Fact #7 - The layering on the upper was inspired by muscle fibers, and the original neon eyelets were pulled out from the rib cage. The midsole, well you guessed it, is from the spine.
The AM 95 was never considered as one of the cheap Nike Air Max shoes due to its $140 price point on debut.
It was one of the first Nike Air Max black shoes incorporated through the midsole and fans loved it.
Soon after, the hip-hop community embraced the silhouette like a loving mother.
AM Fun Fact #8 - It was the number one choice of footwear for criminals based on the 2007 UK police database.
Nike Air Max 97
It seems like Nike designers have a knack for infusing day-to-day elements into their catalog. The Air Max 97 proved to be a quintessential example of such amalgamation.
Blast from the past:
The AM 97 was designed by Christian Tresser, a relatively young artist who joined the Nike design team in 1996.
Its release was rather late, considering it debuted at the fall of 1997.
The sneaker’s tooling was created first before handing it over to Tresser who is responsible for the upper’s creation.
Tresser hailed the accents of the AM 97 from his inclination to mountain bikes and water ripples from puddles.
The Japanese bullet train design hint was speculated to be an advertising stint conspired by Nike during the sneaker’s early days.
The AM 97 was the first sneaker to utilize a full-length Air sole unit.
It also featured the first instance of hidden laces in the Air Max Nike shoes line-up.
The AM 97 also consists of 3M details along the upper.
The AM 97 was only stocked on shelves for a brief period before other Nike Air Max shoes were on sale thereafter.
It was a massive hit in Italy during its early years of release.
As with its predecessor, these women’s Nike Air Max shoes boasted a higher price.
AM Fun Fact #9 - Nike initially dubbed it as the Air Total Max III with the AM 95 as the first on the collection.
Nike Air VaporMax
For those who surmised that this list follows a chronological order, then its safe to say that you’re wrong. Being creative with Air and all the shenanigans involved with it is in Nike’s DNA. The VaporMax is a prime example of less is more.
Blast from the not-so-distant past:
The Nike VaporMax was generally released on March 25, 2017.
It was initially teased on March 16, 2016.
Kathy Gomez was Nike’s VP of Underfoot Cushioning Innovation and the one responsible for the VaporMax’s creation.
The VaporMax’s were never a cheap addition to Nike Air Max shoes because it retailed at $190 on its launch.
It was relatively one of the newest Nike Air Max shoes in the market that was continually hybridized.
The goal of the VaporMax was to make walking on air more possible.
AM Fun Fact #10 - The sneaker comprised of 39,000 parts. Talk about minimalism.
A Nike patented Flyknit upper complements the lightness of the full VaporMax outsole.
Foam materials and some whatnot underfoot were scrapped to maximize the sensation of walking on air.
AM Fun Fact #11 - It was in 2006 when the first foamless Nike Air Max shoes were witnessed courtesy of the Air Max 360.
The entire outsole/midsole is made of a TPU material.
Initial contact with the sneaker draws back to Paris Fashion Week of October 2016 which is a foreshadowing of what the sneaker stands for in the recent years.
The ingenious VaporMax tooling has been consistently remastered in numerous iterations including the Nike Air VaporMax 97 gold colorway.
People have been wearing it either for athletic purposes or for casual use.
Nike Air Max 180
Seconding the dominance of the AM 1 and AM 90 was a heavily arduous task to conquer. Some might fail while others triumph. Ironically, the Nike Air Max 180 had encountered both.
A 180-degree blast from the past:
The Air Max 180 was unveiled in 1991 as an ambitious follow up to the AM 90.
The sneaker was designed by two powerhouses including Tinker Hatfield and Air Force 1 designer Bruce Kilgore.
It was prominently worn by the US “Dream Team” including the audience-dubbed G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan.
Ads for these Air Max 180 Nike shoes even listed coveted directors like Eiko Ishioka, Caleb Deschanel, and David Cronenberg of the cult classic Naked Lunch.
In essence, the Air Max 180 contains 50% more air than the previous AM 90.
Revamping the Air bubble to make in contact to the ground promoted its full capacity for cushioning.
Its collar was a bit taller than the previous AM models and the flatness of the sole lie closer to the AM 1 rather than the 90.
Material assembly usually composed of leather and textile.
The famous 1991 colorway was notably known as Ultramarine.
It was also one of the iterations which showcased purple Nike shoes under the Air Max collection namely the AM 180 Bright Concord.
Though the AM 180 was created by two brilliant heads in sneaker history, sadly its sales did not materialize.
It took years before the sneaker was religiously retroed but was considered a cult icon by some.
AM Fun Fact #12 - Kanye West and Eminem were gifted a limited number of pairs which resells thousands of dollars to date.
Despite its numerous attempts for advertising, the sneaker didn’t manifest a considerable amount concerning sales.
The rise of the dad sneaker zeitgeist was helpful to the AM 180’s fame.
Nike Air Max 98
Nike was on a roll in the mid-90s for releasing consecutive hits like the AM 95 and the promising AM 97. Continuing to do so was a tedious task even for a colossal company like Nike. The Nike Air Max 98 was in the cusp of either both sides of the confused spectrum.
Blast from the past:
These Nike Air Max 98 shoes for men and women were first witnessed in February 1998.
Originally, its retail price was $149.99.
The sneaker was designed by Sergio Lozano, the same person behind the AM 95.
Somehow, the sneaker recycled the exact Air-Sole tooling from the Air Max 97.
For support and stability, the AM 98 includes a lateral crash pad system coupled with an overlay strapping system.
For its anatomically-designed uppers, it comprises of synthetic leather and mesh.
A sculpted midsole made of polyurethane hugs the full-length Air bubble.
The audience response was not that energetic towards the AM 98’s unveiling probably because of the 97’s prestige carrying over.
Another factor for its under-appreciated status would somewhat be the result of several iconic releases during the same year.
But above all, some versions of the 98 had seen the light of day including one that was patterned with Gundam tints.
Nike Air Max BW
Acronyms usually stand for something bold. In the case of the Nike Air Max BW, or Nike Air BW as vintage people might prefer calling it, the initials were a bit derivative. Otherwise, the sneaker was a great addition to someone’s retro catalog.
Blast from the past:
Being released in 1991 alongside another flagship silhouette like the AM 180 was a bit ambitious for the Air Max BW.
It was drawn and conceptualized by Tinker Hatfield himself.
The sneaker debuted in a Persian colorway when it launched in 1991.
Its big break happened in 2016, almost enthusiastically called as its golden anniversary, when the OG iteration was resurrected from the grave.
Regardless of its newer image, the Nike Air Max BW sports the same Air-Sole unit as that of the AM 90s.
To emphasize this bold move, a wider window box was used showcasing more surface area for the Air bubble.
Its mesh upper is usually dipped in two-tone pigments.
For its overlays, synthetic leather was initially used along with several TPU elements.
Europe, during the early years of its release, embraced the Air Max BW with both arms evident with its frequent rave scenes scattered all throughout the continent.
The Nike Air Max BW tapped numerous subgroups from R&B artists to the actual athletic people.
AM Fun Fact # 13 - BW stands for Big Window, for those curious enough to know.
Nike Air Max Plus TN
The Nike Air Max TN, or the more recently identified Air Max Plus from Nike, was one of the birth children of Nike’s fruitful year of 1998. Coming along with several reputable iterations and colorways, the Air Max TN sweetens through time.
Blast from the past:
The promising silhouette was conceptualized and was brought into the material world by Sean McDowell.
It was released in 1998, a few months after the AM 98 was introduced.
The timeless design of the AM Plus TN was ahead of its release, gaining inspiration from the fading of the Florida beach skies towards dusk with the accommodating silhouette of palm tree leaves.
McDowell first worked on a project for Footlocker called Sky Air in 1997 which would then be renamed as the Air Max TN.
AM Fun Fact #14 - TN stands for the type of tech found in the AM Plus called Tuned Air.
Initially assembled for running, the AM Plus TN was relatively lightweight at 12 ounces despite being a polyurethane shoe.
Three separate welds were done with the sneaker due to its heavy TPU detailing.
For its cushioning, the sneaker utilizes a revolutionary Tuned Air unit maximizing stability on the heel while smoothening the transition towards the forefoot.
Dividing the Air-Sole units is courtesy of a whale inspired accent on the shank.
What made the icon a unique piece in the Air Max collection is its color-faded upper with matching Venom-like squiggles.
Among the sneaker’s amazing stints happened at its launch in 1998 when kids were already asking how to buy it 10 to 15 minutes after placing it on the shelf.
Crooked Tongues founder Chris Aylen explained that the Air Max Plus TN inspired the creation of the now-defunct shoe retailer and his inclination towards sneakers.
It was one of the fortunate models that never ran out of stock, consistently being appraised by its cult following.
Countries or cities would sometimes feature specific colorways not found globally.
One of its fans even tattooed the sneaker’s particular design on his foot, including the Tn heel logo.
Nike Air Max 93
From a window to a 270-view, Nike kept on providing its audience a taste of the full Air-bubble experience. Exploiting two sneaker concepts in one shoe was also part of that project.
Blast from the past:
As with the name, the sneaker donned its first appearance in 1993.
It was one of the last iterations that Tinker Hatfield was heavily involved in.
The Air Huarache, which was released in 1993 lent its upper to the AM 93.
It was sometimes dubbed as the 270, but decades after, Nike followed through with the actual Nike Air Max 270 model.
The massive chunk of Airbag at the heel was made possible by Parry Auger and David Forland.
The sneaker was re-released in 2003.
The AM 93 is heavily influenced by the Huarache from its toe box design to the nylon sock liner.
The ubiquitous 270 Air-Sole unit was created using a blow moulding technique.
Handles on plastic milk jugs inspired the sneaker’s heel cushioning.
It contained 35% more air than its predecessor.
The AM 93 was one the first Nike Air Max shoes to have a colored Air-sole unit.
It was one of the early forms of a mid-top runner.
One of the most famous versions that loyalists crave was dubbed the Dusty Cactus colorway.
Tinker Hatfield told the late Gary Warnett that it was his personal favorite shoe.
The AM 93, as advertised, was the shoe choice of amateur runners.
Frequently asked questions involving Nike Air Max shoes
How much are Nike Air Max kicks?
The price of the Air Max Nike shoes varies depending on numerous factors. Generally released models are usually accordingly priced based on the gender, age, and technology involved. Collaborations with particular artists most likely boost its value hence the high price tag.
Those who are looking for cheap Nike Air Max shoes should look into older models like the AM 1 and 90 which has a price range of $90-$120. Other examples include some women’s Nike Air Max casual shoes like the Nike Air Max Jewell, Nike Air Max Axis, and Nike Air Max Thea which roughly average around $95.
The rate of Nike men’s Air Max shoes does not fall far from that of the Nike Air Max shoes for women. A Nike Air Max Zero in a specific colorway are equally priced despite the gender. But for those who are rooting for discounts should watch out for Nike Air Max shoes on sale.
AM Fun Fact # 15 - Here are some of the highest priced Nike Air Max pumps
Parra x Nike Air Max 1 - $2900 in 2018
Dizzee Rascal x Nike Air Max 90 - $1501 highest bid
Off-White x Nike Air VaporMax Black - highest bid is $1250
Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 1/97 - $1119
Off-White x Nike Air Max 97 Mensa - (2018) $1100
Mita x Nike Air Max 95 Ueno Prototype - $950
How to clean Nike Air Max sneakers?
Key points to follow when cleaning dirty Nike Air Max shoes should revolve around four things: soft bristle brush, damp cloth, mild soap/shoe shampoo, and warm water.
Different materials like leather, suede, or textile take various approaches to handle them. For nylon and fabrics, soft-bristle brushes dampened with warm water, and mild soap usually does the trick. Leather also uses a soft-bristle brush, but no water is involved. Suede, on the other hand, requires a damp cloth and a nylon brush for giving the nap more dimension.
Remember to remove the insole and laces first before cleaning the whole shoe. Warm water and a mild detergent are the essential components in washing the two. Some who are searching on how to clean white Nike Air Max’s must be diligent on what shoe shampoo to choose.
How to lace Nike Air Max shoes?
With the growth of sneakerhead fandom taking over the world by storm, numerous styles for lacing one’s kick are also prevalent. One can either cross the laces the traditional way or pattern it in parallel bars. Videos on how to fasten these pumps are widespread across the internet. Some even tuck in the latter part of the laces and leave the aglets hanging on the last hole.
How do you inflate Nike Air Max bubbles?
Restoring the suppleness of the Air-Sole unit to its original form is not an easy task and quite impossible, to say the least. These airbags contain a secret concoction of molecules that Nike keeps secret and one commoner cannot replicate that.
But to some who need a quick fix can use a compressor, super glue, a pin, and a basin of water to determine where the leak is. This is only one of the feasible ways on how to fix a Nike Air bubble.
How to wash Nike Air Max silhouettes?
The thing to remember when washing Nike Air Max shoes is to NOT put it in the washing machine. It only takes three words--old toothbrush, warm water, and a soft cloth. Those are the things necessary for tidying up these Air Max’s.
What is Nike Air Max?
Nike Air Max refers to the franchise under the Nike super company which makes use of entrapped “air” inside a flexible bag for cushioning. Tinker Hatfield, an institution in sneaker design, spearheaded the movement in 1987 with the first visible Air bubble in a shoe. Since then, the moniker “Air Max” had been widely used in a platoon of their models that display the said Air-sole unit.
Where to buy Nike Air Max models?
A quick trip to the mall would indeed reveal numerous variations of these Air Max sneakers in any Nike outlet. If some of those on display does not tickle your fancy, browsing the internet is the best option in acquiring the perfect colorway for one’s taste. Some sneaker retailers even have both an online and physical store.
When is Nike Air Max Day?
Air Max Day happens during March 26. It pays homage to the release date of the very first Air Max in history which is the AM 1.
How to style Nike Air Max kicks?
Containing an air accent on one’s sneakers has a tendency to make such footwear a bit chunky. Riding the dad-shoe pandemonium would suit Air Max sneakers the best thus joggers would always be a staple. Because these Nike Air Max shoes were initially made for running, the sporty look would always suffice including track pants and leggings.
What are Nike Air Max shoes for?
The earliest forms of these sneakers were intended for the running. In between the decades, the sneaker morphed into a more lifestyle-driven alternative. Technological advances in the more recent years reinvented its original athletic purpose as testified by several silhouettes including the Nike Air Max 2015 and 2016. Heck, even the VaporMax can be used heavily for running.
Where are Nike Air Max’s made?
Footwear produced by Nike, along with other global players like Adidas, New Balance, and Puma, are manufactured in factories across the world including China, South-East Asia, South America, and even in North America.
Who sells Nike Air Max sneakers?
Nowadays, there are two types of sellers in the sneakerhead market. One is the actual retailers and boutiques that import the shoes from Nike at wholesale prices, and the other one is resellers. Resellers capitalize on the most hyped shoes that are limited in number. One can spot a reseller by observing the huge mark-up bestowed upon a model.
15 best Nike Air Max sneakers
Nike Air Max Motion 2
Nike Air Max 200
Nike Air Max Motion LW SE
Nike Air Max Speed Turf
Nike Air Max Plus
Nike Air Max 93
Nike Air Max 180
Nike Air Max 720
Nike Air Max Axis
Nike Air Max Axis Premium
Nike Air Max Vision
Nike Air Max Modern Flyknit
Nike Air Max Prime
Nike Air Max Oketo
Nike Air Max2 Light
Danny is a sneakerhead turned sneaker industry expert that believes a good outfit begins from the feet up. His aunt currently isn't speaking to him for wearing a pair of kicks at his cousin's wedding. He spends most of his time trying to keep on top of the latest releases, hitting up his contacts and doing what needs to be done to secure his next pickup. Danny has been featured in prestigious publications such as The Washington Post, The Irish Times, Footwear News and the like.
This shoe has recently been added to RunRepeat. There are still not enough reviews for us to assign it a CoreScore.
CoreScore A score from 1 to 100 that summarizes opinions from users and experts. The average CoreScore is 78.