A Look Back: the Evolution of the Air Max 90

A Look Back: the Evolution of the Air Max 90

As sneaker social media continues to grow and evolve, the month of March has been dubbed “Air Max Month” by sneakerheads around the globe. The main reason for this phenomenon is “Air Max Day” on March 26 – a day Nike has chosen to commemorate the cushioning technology that changed everything. 

A single page of an old Eastbay catalog showing Nike Air sneakers, including the Air Max 90.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the fan favorite Air Max 90. Thirty years ago, Nike launched a white, black, and bright red sneaker with a big Air Max bubble and a semi-covered Swoosh on the side. On the heel was a thermoplastic, heart-shaped tab with the patented NIKE AIR branding. Yet another stunning design by the young legend Tinker Hatfield, this third Air Max running sneaker quickly became a classic.

In 1990, the Air Max 90 originally retailed for $110 in several eye-popping neon colorways like ‘Laser Blue’ and ‘Radiant Red’. As the story goes, the sockliner featured an Air Max 1 outsole print debossed in it because Tinker Hatfield thought it was going to be the last shoe he ever designed. Like most of Hatfield’s designs, the sneaker was radical in every way and certainly was going to raise some eyebrows at first.

Over the years, Nike has re-released original colorways along with new AM 90s featuring a myriad of colors, different types of uppers, and a variety of sole swaps. Eastbay has always been the source for the Air Max 90, so here’s a look back at some of the colorways and model variations that helped make the AM 90 the cult classic that it is today.

After the initial drop in 1990, it took 12 years for the Air Max 90 to return. In ’02-’03, the AM 90 returned in the classic ‘Infrared’ colorway. Interestingly, the OG was never known by that nickname; it wasn’t until the first retro that they were referred to as ‘Infrared.’

In 2005, the Air Max 90 returned as part of the “History of Air” collection, which included the first official retro release of the AM 90 in the US. 

An old page of an Eastbay catalog showing different Nike Air sneakers and boots including Air Max 90.

In 2006, Nike released a completely new version of the Air Max 90 called the Air Max 90+ with a Max Air unit in the heel. It looked nothing like its predecessor but went along with the concept of the Air Max 180+ and Air Max 360 which were also launching that year. Additionally, the Air Max 90 ‘One Time Only’ featured the AM 90 upper with an Air Max 360 sole.

From this point on, the Air Max 90 became extremely popular and featured tons of different colorways along with updated all-leather uppers.

[sp_wpcarousel id=”73434″]

In 2008, Nike dropped a premium version of the AM 90 with an ‘Ostrich’ print. They also released the Air Max Wright, which bore a clear resemblance to the AM 90 along with an Air Max LTD sole. Additionally, Nike dropped the AM 90 Current Hybrid, which combined the popular aesthetics of the Air Max 90 with the popular Nike Free sole and a full mesh build.

In 2012, Nike revamped the upper of the AM 90 again with the ‘Hyperfuse’ and ‘Engineered Mesh’ models. Both utilized the same sole with a modern twist of the upper.

[sp_wpcarousel id=”73449″]

In 2015, a full winterized sneakerboot version of the AM 90 emerged, which was perfect for the cold and snowy months. In general, Nike has given the sneakerboot treatment to plenty of classic sneakers. It worked well with the Air Max 90, but many people in the sneaker community believe this model was slept on.

In 2017, designer Virgil Abloh partnered with Nike to release perhaps the most popular Air Max 90 of all time as part of his Off-White “The Ten” collection. The deconstructed model featured premium materials and plenty of interesting details that made it a new grail for many collectors.

[sp_wpcarousel id=”73465″]


This year, Nike has brought back several OG-inspired colorways along with a new FlyEase model that features a flexible heel that collapses to allow for easy on and off access. They are also launching a brand-new sneaker called the Air Max 2090, which is inspired by the DNA of the Air Max 90. 

Over the past 30 years, the Air Max 90 has been retroed and reinvented time after time, which shows how beloved the model has become for sneakerheads around the world. It’s exciting to see that after 30 years, the AM 90 is still as fresh as ever. And to think, Tinker Hatfield thought it was going to be the last sneaker he’d ever design.


Check out Drew’s other Sneaker History blog posts, and don’t forget to follow his @nikestories Instagram account for more sneakerhead content.

Top 10 Back-to-School Shoes

Top 10 Back-to-School Shoes

It’s time to go from jumping in the pool to diving into the books, from swimsuits to school gear, and bike rides to backpacks. Starting a new grade provides the opportunity to express who you are and sport the brands you love through your clothing and more importantly your shoes! We’ve put together a list of the top 10 back-to-school shoes for this fall so you can look good and feel good all while rocking the latest trends.

Get ready to walk the walk this school year.

Women's adidas Originals Stan Smith -- White and Green

adidas Originals Stan Smith

True fashion never goes out of style, which is why the Stan Smith sneakers, though originally a favorite of tennis pros in the ’70s, are now a closet staple for everyone. A leather upper and rubber outsole provide durable comfort to last the whole school year.

Men's Nike Cortez -- White, Varsity Royal, and Varsity Red

Nike Cortez

Bill Bowerman’s first masterpiece – the Cortez – is a retro style perfect for your back-to-school look. The upper and outsole were built for traction and durability, while the midsole keeps your feet supported with a lightweight feel.

Men's Jordan Retro AJ1 Mid -- All White

Jordan Retro AJ1 Mid

The first AJ1 dropped in the ’80s with full-grain leather and the “Air Jordan Wings” stamped on the side. Since then, it’s kept the timeless look we love, but updated the rubber outsole with flex grooves to give you the durability and flexibility you need.

Men's Nike Air Force 1 Low -- All White

Nike Air Force 1 Low

The Air Force 1 has been a staple since it debuted as a basketball sneaker in 1982. Over the years, the shoe has stayed on-trend through various colorways and cuts, but one thing that’s remained the same is the iconic court style that’s built for a premium fit and feel.

Men's Nike Air Max 90 -- University Red and White

Nike Air Max 90

The running shoe created by Tinker Hatfield has evolved into one of the most iconic streetwear classics. Updated for modern style, the Air Max 90 is the perfect back-to-school sneaker. A padded ankle collar provides optimal comfort and support while a Max Air unit in the heel absorbs impact and makes you stand out among your classmates.

Men's Nike Air Max 97 -- White, Dynamic Yellow and Evergreen

Nike Air Max 97

The Air Max 97, inspired by earlier models, took the Air Max line to a whole new level. As Nike’s first shoe with a full-length Max Air unit, the 97 keeps your feet cushioned while the layered colors keep your shoe game strong.

Men's Vans Old Skool -- Black and White

Vans Old Skool

Step into the school year with style in this true throwback. Originally designed for skateboarding, the Old Skool quickly turned into a mainstream shoe. Its classic canvas-and-suede upper and the trademark side stripe complete your back-to-school look while giving your feet all-day comfort.

Men's Nike Air Max Plus -- White and Cool Grey

Nike Air Max Plus

If you’re looking for a shoe that’s all about the details, look no further. The Air Max Plus started as an experimental design in 1998 and has since changed the shoe game forever. This sneaker is wrapped with ribs for an edgy look and injected with Air technology for supportive cushioning.

Men's Nike Air Max 270 -- White, University Red and Vast Grey

Nike Air Max 270

The design of the Air Max 270 pays tribute to the original ’91 Air Max 180 with the exaggerated tongue and logo, but still brings a modern vibe with an updated look and elevated comfort. As the first Air Max shoe designed to be worn casually instead of for performance, the Air Max 270 is the perfect choice for an everyday sneaker.

Men's adidas Originals NMD R1 -- Black, Silver, White and Yellow

adidas Originals NMD R1

A breathable, flexible, and stylish shoe perfect for everyday wear, the NMD R1 was born from an inspired past and built for the future. This shoe has a tried-and-true silhouette and is the first lifestyle sneaker from adidas featuring the bouncy Boost midsole. Confidently stride into school with this popular Three-Stripe sneaker.

Top 10 Best Selling Air Max Shoes

Top 10 Best Selling Air Max Shoes

March is Air Max Month—let’s celebrate in style! As your year-round, go-to spot for Nike Air Max, we’ve got sweet, new kicks dropping all month long. Check out our top Air Max shoes, pick your favorite, and sport them for Air Max Day on March 26.

 

Nike Air Max Plus
This experimental design debuted in 1998, and it’s just as mesmerizing today. With in-your-face features like injected ribs that wrap around the upper, this kick is a must-have for your Air collection.

Nike Air Max 95
Throwback look, modern comfort, timeless style. This shoe keeps the classic lines of the 1995 original, and delivers that iconic Max Air cushioning. Get the Air Max 95 today and add some swagger to your step.

 

Nike Air Max 97 Ultra
Ladies, nothing is more luxurious than suede and velvet. This shoe provides you with a sleek, sophisticated design, and the full-length, visible Max Air unit will leave you feeling like you’re walking on air.

 

Nike Air Vapormax Plus
Tech from the Air Max Plus of ’98 teams up with modern VaporMax Air features to bring you the VaporMax Plus. This powerful hybrid sneaker provides superior, lightweight cushioning, and innovative bootie construction for a snug, comfortable fit.

 

Nike Air Max 90
Rock retro style while enjoying modern comfort with the Air Max 90. Extra cushioning at the collar sets this kick apart from the rest, and flex grooves let your foot move naturally. Step into this brilliant addition to your sneaker rotation today.

 

Nike Air Max Speed Turf
This shoe takes you from the field to the streets with a football-inspired look. Featuring a leather upper, high-top design, and classic cleat silhouette, the Air Max Speed Turf gives you durable materials, premium comfort, and maximum style.

 

Nike Air Vapormax Flyknit
Flyknit upper. Flywire cables. Fly style. As the lightest and most flexible Max Air design to date, the VaporMax Flyknit is a must-have for runners and trendsetters alike.

 

Nike Air Max Sequent
Runners, the Air Max Sequent 3 combines performance, comfort, and plenty of style for an enhanced ride. Flywire cables lock down your foot, and the flex grooves in the sole give you an extended range of motion that you’re sure to love.

 

Nike Air Vapormax Flyknit Moc
Stand out from the crowd and go laceless! The adjustable gore strap of the VaporMax Flyknit Moc lets you adjust your fit while still enjoying the modern, no-lace look. The Flyknit upper gives you seamless, supportive style and comfort, and no-sew overlays at the toe provide structure and durability.

 

Nike Air Max 270
Get even more Air! Step into the Nike Air Max 270 and experience the most cushioning yet. Seriously, this tallest-ever Max Air Unit clocks in at 32mm and gives you 270 degrees of visible Air. Inspired by the 1991 Air Max 180, this sweet kick has been updated for modern style and comfort. Get excited for this groundbreaking new release, and click here to learn more! Happy Air Max Month!

Nike Air Max 90 Jacquard

Nike Air Max 90 Jacquard

Nike Air Max 90 Jacquard (4)

words // Brandon Richard
images // Mary Hoffmann

The latest version of the Nike Air Max 90 brings an all-new textile to the iconic silhouette.

This variation features a jacquard woven base, combined with synthetic materials for a premium fit and comfortable feel. Visible Max Air handles its usual cushioning duties, while Natural Motion-inspired flex grooves in the forefoot provide a smooth, flexible ride.

Pictured here in detail is one of several Air Max 90 Jacquard colorways dropping this weekend. The shoe sports varying hues of  green, including hits of venom on the Swoosh logos, upper lace tab, heelstay and Max air window.

You’ll be able to grab these Nike running shoes here for $150 this Saturday, April 5 at 8:00 a.m. EST / 7:00 a.m. CST. Follow @Eastbay on Twitter and @OfficialEastbay on Instagram for all release information and updates.

Nike Air Max 90 Jacquard (1)

Nike Air Max 90 Jacquard (2)

Nike Air Max 90 Jacquard (3)

Nike Air Max 90 Jacquard (5)

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

words // Brandon Richard

The Nike Air Max 90 Ice is a throwback to the original Air Max Mantra of “making the invisible visible.” Inspired by the Nike+ Fuelband, this version of the classic runner is constructed using see-through Hyperfuse on the upper, allowing computer generated geometric graphics to appear without distraction. The shoe also sits atop a translucent sole that displays the iconic cushioning setup.

These Nike running shoes will release in Gym Red, Volt and Cool Grey for $150 each this Friday, February 21. Follow @Eastbay on Twitter and @OfficialEastbay on Instagram for all release information and updates.

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack

Nike Air Max 90 Ice Pack