Nike’s Air Max franchise has never been a slave to convention. Since the late 80s, the visible Air department has been flipping the script to disrupt the status quo. While we may take hybrid designs for granted these days, it was the bubble-bolstered line that pioneered the concept. Thanks to that trademark DNA manipulation, Nike designers now look at the Nike archive as a rich bounty waiting to be harvested. Here’s a look back at some of the more memorable hybrid Air Max models.
This was the original sole swap that triggered Nike’s obsession with genetic engineering. In 1992, the Swoosh set out to update their premier Air Max model by sticking the much-loved Air Max 1 upper above the new Air Max 90 sole unit. Canny enough to know a good thing when they Adidas Stan Smith Damen saw it, small quantities of the hybrid Nike were released. Today these shoes are relatively rare, but they can be found if you know where to hunt. Almost from day one, Tinker Hatfield was wise to the art of cross-pollinating Air Max design cues.
The Air Burst was the first fusion model to really explore the blending of design elements. Rather than just trading parts, the build was informed by the look of the OG Air Max 1 and the cutting-edge tech of the Air Max 93. The upper was a redesigned version of the former, which utilised a more modern style to fit in with the all-round heel bubble, which was donated by the latter. The shoe’s name really hammered the point home with a healthy dose of sass. In 1987, when the first visible Air unit released, people were scared it would burst. Seven years later, the Swoosh wrapped the whole Adidas Gazelle Femme heel without a worry in the world.
The release of Nike’s Air Max 360 was a huge milestone for visible gas. This was the first ever shoe to have a completely foamless, entirely Air-supported sole for maxed-out cushioning from heel to toe. The brand didn’t hold back flexing their revolutionary new tech to the masses, and sparked one of the biggest collections of hybrids the world has ever seen.
Paying tribute to the previous 20 years of innovation, Nike designers Richard Clarke and Jesse Leyva proposed the ‘One Time Only’ pack, a selection of classic Air Max designs with retrofitted Max 360 soles. OG colourways hit the spot, while the ‘Clerk’ pack revisited some older collaborative schemes and a ‘Deluxe’ set came with high-quality cowhide.
In 2008, Foot Locker celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their flagship Air Max model Adidas Stan Smith Womens in spectacular fashion. The Tuned X and its multicoloured ‘Olympics’ colourway was the key variant that most sneakerheads remember, but two TN fusions that were also Foot Locker exclusives shouldn’t be overlooked.
Following the rest of the family’s lead, the Air Max Plus took on the 360 sole, creating a TN that was somehow even more aggressive than the original. The year also marked the first time the TN upper was paired with the Air Max 97’s sole – a style Nike has revisited for the 2018 range.
All day, every day – the 24/7 is a true triple treat, a walloping scoop of Neapolitan Nike. The long ingredient list features three of the Air Max line’s most predominant figures – the 95, 97 and 360. Working down from the top, the layered structure of the design divides the shoe into segments. The 95 donated its mesh and webbing lacing Nike Air Max 2016 Dame system, then comes the 97’s wavy lines and Swoosh panel, before we land on hard on a 360 sole.
The resulting shoe had a surprisingly modern feel thanks to the seamless Adidas ZX Flux Femme way in which the pieces were fitted together – just what a hybrid should be!