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  • Writer's pictureLegit Laces

A Celebration of the Air Max 1

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

How one man changed the sneaker industry forever...


Tinker Hatfield with the Air Max 1

The first in a long line of Air Max sneakers, the Air Max 1 was designed by Tinker Hatfield, and originally released in 1987. The sneakers featured red, grey, and white color blocking that has since become a classic. Like many of Tinker’s designs, the Air Max 1 features an encapsulated Air-Sole unit in the heel and the iconic “Nike Air” branding.

Today, March 26, 2020 is the 33rd year of the annual “Air Max Day” and what is a better way to appreciate this iconic sneaker than by going back and looking at its humble origin.

Hatfield was first hired at Nike in 1981 as an architect designing the buildings on the Nike Oregon campus. In 1985, Tinker began to design sneakers at Nike’s request.

Centre Georges Pompidou

On a trip to Paris, Hatfield was struck by the architecture of the Centre Georges Pompidou. Unlike other buildings, the Centre exposed all of its functional/structural elements for everyone to see.

An inspired Hatfield rushed to his preliminary designs and added an exposed Air unit on the sneakers mid-sole. In 2020 it may seem ridiculous that people actually pushed back against this move, especially considering that the Nike Air Vapormax features an Air unit as the entire sole of the sneaker.

Tinker Hatfield's Air Max 1 design

At the time, other Nike executives had thought that Hatfield pushed the design to far. They worried the sneaker would look and feel structurally weak, but Hatfield and a few other people pushed ahead anyway.

Nike finally released the sneaker on March 26, 1987 and was featured in Nike’s first television ad. The lasting impact this sneaker would have across the globe was unimaginable at the time of its release. Tinker Hatfield is 67 years old, and still helps design sneakers for Nike and Jordan Brand and has since become one of the most influential sneaker designers of all time.

The Evolution of Visible Air (1987-2015)

The Air Max line has continued to flourish in the last 33 years with the addition of insanely popular models such as the Air Max 90, Air Max 97, Air Max Vapormax and several others. Nike continues to celebrate every year with an annual Air Max day by releasing extremely sought-after colorways or new Air Max innovations.

Have a great Air Max Day and remember to wear your air!


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