In some respects, 1987 was a great year for entertainment and culture. Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Simpsons made its first television appearance, Michael Jackson released Bad and Nike released the inaugural Air Max sneaker, the Air Max 1. These moments would all go on to be hugely influential and each one’s revolutionary character lives on today.
For Nike, the Air Max 1 went down in history as a pivotal and innovative design that elevated the brand when Nike Air Pegasus 83 Donna they needed it most. Although the story is part of sneaker lore, its 30th birthday—also known as Air Max Day—is approaching and as Nike dedicates an entire month to its celebration with more releases than we can keep track of, we’re taking a look back at how the Air Max revolution started.
It’s a story that can’t be told without first introducing renowned designer Tinker Hatfield. In 1981, long before becoming sneaker industry royalty, Nike hired Hatfield as a corporate architect to design buildings on the brand’s Oregon campus. It wasn’t until four years Nike Cortez Dame later, in 1985, that he would begin designing footwear upon request. He applied his architectural background to sneaker design and it didn’t take long for him to impart a rebellious spirit into the recently struggling brand. “I began working on a renegade set of shoes that Nike Cortez Womens were not part of a design brief or marketing drive,” he explains, referencing what would become the very first Air Max sneaker.
The ‘80s started well for Nike, they’d acquired 50% market share in the U.S. athletic shoe market and were on track to become a one billion dollar company. However, midway through the decade, the competition was creeping up on them. Bright colors, daring patterns and bold neons embellished the era, and Nike needed something more striking. Nike’s Cortez, Waffle Racer and Tailwind had proved popular in the past but they didn’t capture Nike Air Max 270 Flyknit Femme the experimental nature of the time. Hatfield saw the importance of risk taking and a trip to Paris would provide the catalyst for a brightly burning idea
Father of the Air Max, Tinker Hatfield, found his inspiration for the inaugural design in the architecture of the Centre Pompidou during a visit to Paris. Hatfield, who was trained as an architect, was taken by the building’s inside-out approach -— with its structure wrapped around the building’s exterior. From this came the idea to expose the inner workings of the shoe, and the visible Air window was born.
Nike’s first sneaker to reveal the Air-cushioned sole, the Air Max 1, finally released March 26, 1987 and featured in Nike’s first television ad the same year. It was part of the Air Pack which also featured the Air Trainer 1, Air Sock, Air Revolution and Air Safari. Nike Air Max 720 Donna “I was at an airport right around the time the first Air Max sneaker launched,” explains Forland. “I was calling a tech in the lab when someone walked by wearing a pair. I stared at him from the phone booth and said, ‘Somebody bought them. I see the Air-Sole going up and down!’ It was a big risk, but bigger reward.”