Launched in 1987, the Nike Air Max 1 arrived at a time when Nike was looking for a way to overtake competition who, while still not as popular, was beating Nike in the visual department. As super-bright color palettes and eye-catching designs rose to the top, Nike’s understated Cortez, Waffle Racer, and Tailwind were being overshadowed. One trip to Paris later and Tinker Hatfield, having marveled at the Pompidou Centre and its exoskeleton of walkways, decided to design a shoe with its air bubble on show. The Nike Air Max 1 was born.
Although Nike’s Air unit wasn’t new, it had so far only been built into the soles of shoes and hidden from sight. Hatfield’s revolutionary reshuffle of the Nike formula set the sportswear giant on a path of no return, littered with yet-to-be iconic silhouettes. What is perhaps most impressive about the Nike Air Max 1, which was met with cynicism at first, is that it’s still one of Nike’s most popular silhouettes.
Now more popular in its lifestyle propensity, the Nike Air Max 1’s OG white and red colorway set the stage for a long and fruitful life. And while general-release Air Max 1s make up most of the market, the silhouette has seen its fair share of grailed releases, too, from the Nike x Patta Cherrywoods to collaborations with CLOT. That’s all to say that the Nike Air Max 1 ticks just about every box, so we took to the ‘net to round up some of the best Nike Air Max 1s on the market.
If you’re looking to pay homage to one of the greatest sneaker silhouettes of all time, there are few better colorways to do it with than this Anniversary edition. The original red, grey, and white palette that dressed the first-ever Air Max 1 returned in 2017 to the open arms of all sneakerheads.
We love Huaraches and we love the Air Max 1 (if you couldn’t already tell), so imagine how hard we fell for the Air Max 1 DNA CH.1 Pack back in January 2020. This number features the Nike Huarache’s famous — and insanely clean — Royal Blue palette.
Dropping as part of Nike’s Chinese New Year celebrations in January 2020, the “Longevity” Air Max 1 knows nothing about under-the-radar. This one’s loud and proud with bright pink patent leather featuring embossed Chinese symbols.
Amsterdam artist Piet Parra has dressed several Nike Air Max 1s in his time. While this 2018 release doesn’t rank with some of the more grail-status releases, it’s definitely a head-turner and it deserves a spot in your rotation.
Nike’s Obsidian Blue has grown to become one of the brand’s most-loved colors and it forms the chromatic foundations for this Air Max 1. Grey, Obsidian, and white leather make the upper which sits atop a classic, clean white sole unit. This one’s bursting with OG flavor.
Talk about eye-catching, a speckled midsole sets the bold tone for this unmissable pair which features a multi-material upper of punchy, striking colors ranging from rich orange suede to blue leather. Rope laces round out the attention-worthy look.
Alternating colored panels made of salvaged materials combine with classic black leather overlays to give this iteration of the Air Max 87 a pithy contrast. Sitting somewhere between ultra-clean and hectic, this design makes the eye-catching most of the classic silhouette.
Nike’s love letter to Amsterdam has several chapters, but one of the best was released in early 2020. Full-grain leather panels to the upper offset corduroy and suede overlays while Amsterdam’s XXX details the toe box.
When Nike teams up with Atmos, the results are usually pretty wild. This 2018 release echoed the Air Max 95 release of 2007 with a wild animal theme featuring faux-fur featuring tiger, leopard, and zebra markings as well as a Sport Red Swoosh.
More subdued than the Amsterdam rendition, this 2020 London release curried more favor in the sneaker community thanks to its easy styling. The majority-grey uppers boats a similar mix of materials as the Amsterdam pair with Valerian Blue hits to the heel and Swoosh.
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