The Nike Air Max is among the most recognizable sneakers ever made; the exposed air pockets are as evocative as the Jumpman logo is to the Air Jordan. If you’re under 30, you’ve known the Air Max your entire life, and you’re probably able to triangulate its many iterations with landmarks in pop culture, or in your own life. However, the now-ubiquitous design was once the daring, controversial vision of a pole vaulter-turned-architect who traces his roots back to the storied track coach Bill Bowerman and Steve Prefontaine-era Oregon Track and Field.
The shoe’s original designer, Tinker Hatfield, drew his inspiration from the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, which he saw as an inside-out building; without exterior walls, its Nike Air Max Command Damen innards are on full display. According to a 2006 documentary, he widened the air pocket of an existing shoe, the Tailwind, and removed some encapsulating heel foam to reveal the air cushion—an inside-out shoe. The Air Max 1 Nike Air Presto Femme was born a chunky sneaker with a window to Nike’s bigger-than-ever air cushion, and although the company has increased the size of the air pocket over the years, the new shoes use the same basic design and materials as the originals.
Air Maxes are no longer the go-to running shoe, but the shoe’s performance obsolescence is overshadowed by its massive presence in the worlds of music, fashion, and celebrity. They’re some of the hottest and most sought-after sneakers around. The Air Max 1 debuted the same year as Public Enemy’s first album, and a recent collaboration with U.K. rapper Skepta sold out in minutes. Designers Patta, Foot Patrol, and Supreme are frequent Air Max collaborators, and the shoes appear on the Instagram’d feet of the world’s Hadids and Jenners.
The shoes that saw the most success during their original Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Damen releases—the Air Max 1, 90, 95, and 97—have received myriad remakes from outside designers and Nike’s own creative team, and new technologies like VaporMax and Flyknit extend the shoe’s penchant for originality into the future. We’ll continuously update this list to reflect the latest, most inspired Air Maxes at the best price.
For a summery take on the classic Air Max 1, try this subtle Fresh Mint colorway, released in April. Low-key grey mesh panels come layered over light green suede accents on the upper, matched with a minty Air unit in the midsole and a hit of green on the outsole, too—it’s fresh in more ways than one.
Sure, Nike Air shoes have been around since the ‘70s, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t continuing to innovate. These new VaporMaxes feature the lightest, most flexible Air Max cushioning ever.
Now here’s Nike Air Max 270 Mujer a colorway that’ll really turn heads: Nike released this “dip-dyed” VaporMax Plus in May, and its psychedelic orange and white colorway over clear Air units will keep you light on your feet all summer long.
One of the most hyped—and most bizarre—Air Max drops of 2019, these VaporMaxes were created in collaboration with streetwear retailer Cactus Plant Flea Market. They come decorated with puffy 3D detailing, stitched taping, and other wonky details. Highly sought after, you’ll have to drop some serious change to cop a pair.
The new Air Max 720 comes with Nike’s tallest Air unit ever, and the shoe promises exceptional cushion and energy return. But with colorways as wild as these, we doubt you’ll want to risk scuffing them on a run.
Nike debuted the Air Max 270 in 2018, and it has since become highly popular among sneakerheads. Adidas Stan Smith Dámské Keep an eye out for new summer colorways, including this sharp white-navy-fuchsia combo for women.