It’s been 20 years since Nike first debuted the classic Air Max 95, which marked a big shift in the performance running sneaker market at the time. With its distinct rippled design across its upper, gradient gray color scheme, and bright neon yellow accents, the original model was a bold, provocative silhouette that had not been preceded by any sneaker before its time. Nike brought on board Nike ACG designer Sergio Lozano to spearhead Adidas Superstar Femme the project, a trained industrial designer whose four-year experience with tennis and training shoes would bring a fresh perspective to the Air Max family.
In the early ’90s Nike Basketball was dominating the sneaker market, with the popularity of basketball shoes gaining traction well ahead of runners. Lozano positioned the revolutionary Air Max 95 project as a means to recapture the public’s attention towards the performance running category.
Lozano recalls, “I remembered something Tinker Hatfield used to always bring up while working on other projects, he would say, ‘Okay, so that’s a great design, but what’s your story?’” Inspiration for the 95 came to him one rainy day in Nike headquarters’ home of Beaverton, Oregon; “I was looking across the lake out into the trees and I began picturing the process of rain eroding the earth Nike Internationalist Femme and thought it would be interesting if the perfect product was unearthed by erosion,” says Lozano. He took further influences from the anatomy of the human body, where the forms of human muscles and vertebrae were locked into the design. The final shoe had an upper with layered panels that resembled muscle fibers and flesh, Nylon eyelets that were fashioned after ribs, a midsole that took after the spine, and a gradient that resembled geographical striations of eroded rock walls.
Lozano wanted to minimize the appearance of dirt, mud, and wear-and-tear that the shoe would achieve over time and use, so he prioritized the use of the gradient gray even when told that the colorway would not sell. The signature neon yellow shade too is a direct nod towards Nike’s race kit that continues to incorporate bright colors. This neon “Volt” Nike M2k Tekno Damen colorway has since become a heritage-defining Nike color theme that is consistently reissued for other silhouettes.
The first 95 prototype didn’t have the Swoosh logo at all. Eventually it came to incorporate the minimal branding as a small accent, with an unconventional placement that could not distract attention from the undulating lines of the upper. Lozano told Sneaker Freaker, “from the design to the color to the little Swoosh, it all caused controversy. I had initially designed the shoe without a Swoosh because we believed the design was aesthetically strong… so we positioned it as a signature, a sign off on the shoe.”
The 95 was a brand new approach to runner cushioning by being the first-ever shoe to also feature Nike Air Max 270 Womens the visible Air unit in the forefoot. It was also the first Air Max model to have a black midsole. Despite these Nike Air Presto Femme innovations, the Air Max 95 was considered an outcast. Even the advertising was quite unconventional for Nike – check out this retro commercial advertising the bold atmos x Nike Air Max 95 2006 Supreme “Animal” silhouette that was made in collaboration with the Tokyo-based streetwear boutique.