The industry-changing “Air” has been a staple in Nike products since it was first introduced as a feature in 1979’s Air Tailwind. The feature remained hidden until 1987 when one fateful release, the Air Max 1, revealed to the world what would become Nike’s signature feature, the air pocket. Sunday, March 27th marks the 30th Anniversary of the revolutionary shoe and in celebration of Air Max Day, we thought it was appropriate to run down the best Air Max shoes of all time. With so many legendary releases over the years, it wasn’t easy, but we managed. Let’s get ready for lift off…
1. Air Max 1 OG Red/White and Blue/White (1987)
It’d be tough not to have the OG of OGs in the top slot and we gave it a double billing because not only is this the shoe that started it all, but it’s classic colorways are unbeatable even today.
2. Air Max 90 “Infrared” (1990)
The Infrared 90 could have very easily taken the top spot as its influence is still felt today via new colorways, collabs, and retros. Originally utilized to make the air pocket seem larger, this was the first appearance of the now iconic “Infrared” color.
3. Air Max 95 “Neon” (1995)
Some purists and collectors actually favor Sergio Lozano's iconic 95’s over all others, and its gradient colorway design (meant to mimic the human anatomy) and multiple air pockets are still relevant today.
4. Air Max 97 “Silver Bullet” (1997)
The Silver Bullet’s futuristic design was the first Nike shoe to utilize a full footbed air design and represented one of the few large-scale evolutions in the air pocket’ s design. 97 fans should be also be fired up to hear the Bullet is getting the retro treatment this year.
5. Air Max More Uptempo (1996)
Sure, Jordan had his shoes, but there were others too. The Uptempo’s bold design goes down as one of the most iconic hoops shoes of the 90’s thanks to another Bulls legend, Scottie Pippen.
6. Air Max 180 (1991)
Asking legendary Nike designer to top the immediately iconic Air Max 90 was a tall order, but Hatfield delivered another massive success with the 180 (with 50% more air cushioning, hence the name). That it then became the 1992 Dream Team’s “off duty” sneaker at the Barcelona Olympics only cemented its status in history.
7. Air Max Penny 1 (1995)
Despite its low-key design, Penny Hardaway’s namesake line would go on to become one of the biggest and most successful in Nike’s stable of basketball shoes.
8. Atmos x Air Max 1 "Jade" (2006)
The AM 1 has seen a number of amazing collabs over the years, and the ones Tokyo-based designers Atmos can always be counted on as fire. But the 2006 “Jade” version, with its iconic elephant print, stands above the rest. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s being retro’d this year after its recent one-year anniversary.
9. Air Force Max (1993)
Another influential 90’s hoops shoe, the Air Force Max enjoyed massive success after becoming the signature shoe of both Michigan’s Fab Five and Sir Charles Barkley himself. Multiple colorways were released but nothing tops the mean, all-black everything OG colorway favored by Weber, Jalen Rose, and the rest of the 5.
10. Air Max 90 Independence Day (2013)
This patriotic three pack included three colorways, the now-infamous Solar Red, Navy, and an icy AF white. It’s design mashed up the 90’s classic silhouette with Nike’s nascent (at the time) Hyperfuse fabric for a clean, monochromatic design. While the pack’s good looks made it popular upon release, things really blew up when Kanye was spotted rocking them in multiple paparazzi encounters.