Happy Air Max Month! A time when we look forward to fresh new releases from Nike and reminisce about the great Air Max running sneakers from years past. Personally, I love flipping through my old Eastbay catalogs to look for models most of us have forgotten about. The ‘90s and early 2000s were chock full of breathtaking new designs and colorways. There were so many great sneakers dropping, a lot were overlooked as the years passed by. I asked some friends what they thought of some of these models, and it’s clear I’m not the only one who would love to see some of these gems come back. Here’s a list of 10 you probably haven’t seen in a while. None have ever retroed, but hopefully we can change that over the next few years.
10. Air Max 2002
As time goes by, I find the Air Max 2002 more and more intriguing. Though the upper was nothing all that special, that Tubular Air sole was very different. The Air Max 2002 was definitely polarizing, however.
“I’d love to see Tubular Air return somehow even if it’s just as a one-off. To me, it symbolizes a time where experimentation was at an all-time boom and Nike was pumping out some incredible looking models. The quality was there and most importantly, the care was there too.” – @airmaxarchives
“These were horrible then and horrible now lol The tubular Air was funky/cool, but those uppers always killed it for me. That entire early 2000s Air Max era was kind of rudderless in my opinion. I think many ignored that era, it’s funny but there are very scarce DS examples of sneakers from that era.” – Complex Associate Creative Director @kevonmylevel
9. Air Max Plus Slip On (2002)
I don’t know why Nike hasn’t brought the Air Max Plus Slip On back yet, but it seems like a no-brainer to me.
“Slip-on TNs would go crazy. Those Stussy/Kukini/Spiridon hybrids ended up being one of my most worn pairs last year. It’s so good to have a slip-on with real cushioning/tech in the rotation.” – collector @jackzurier
I couldn’t agree more, especially since the Air Max Plus continues to be a sneakerhead favorite.
8. Air Max 2001
After switching to a Tuned Max sole for the Air Max 2000, Nike reverted back to the traditional dual-pressure, full-length Air-Sole unit for the AM 2001. The Air Max 2001 is definitely not one of the more memorable Air Max models. I completely ignored this shoe when it released, as I wasn’t really feeling the design. Seeing OG pairs 20 years later makes me wish Nike would have brought them back for their anniversary, though. The white/orange/silver pair would definitely stand out today. Maybe we’ll see them in 2026 for the 25th anniversary.
7. Air Max 2000
Talk about pressure. It’s 1999. Nike’s been crushing it with Air Max running designs for over a decade. Everyone is waiting with anticipation to see what they’ll come up with for the 2000th year of the Common Era and they drop….this? The Air Max 2000 was another underwhelming design with zero new breakthroughs. The only interesting feature was the fact they swapped out the Air Max sole for a Tuned Max one. As with all these models, I kind of like it now and would be intrigued to see how it would do in today’s market.
6. Air Max 98 TL
Whenever I post these on Instagram, they are by far the most beloved. This was my first pair of running shoes back in high school, and I was obsessed with them. So much so, I wore them to gym class and ended up severely spraining my ankle while playing basketball in them. Never play basketball in Air Max sneakers.
“The Air Max 98 TL has always been one of my absolute favorites. The colorways were bright, the Air unit was massive, and the mini swoosh always caught my eye. They always stood out to me at that time as the most comfortable pair of Air Max I had/that was out. Even the insoles were different and gave additional cushioning. I think these were overlooked at that time, making them a nice change from a lot of the more mainstream pairs. Need to push that pair, and we can’t settle for AM97 soles lol.” – @lemon_diesel
5. Air Max 98 TL (1999)
This sneaker is near and dear to my heart, as well, because I also owned this one. Nike pumped out three different Air Max models in 1998, and to make it super confusing, they all had the same name: the Nike Air Max. This particular model released at the end of ‘98 and during the first half of ‘99, but it is still known as the Air Max 98 TL (or Total Length). I wore this sneaker to school and during my shifts at Foot Locker back during my senior year of high school. I beat them into the ground, and I’m kicking myself for throwing them out years ago.
4. Air Tuned Precision (1999)
The Air Tuned Precision was the ladies’ version of the Air Tuned Max, which dropped in 1999. While we are definitely excited to see the return of the Air Tuned Max this year, it would be cool to see the Precision return as well.
“The Air Tuned Max is my favorite Air Max running model from the Alpha Project Era. Everyone is excited for the celery colorway, but I’m hoping for a retro of the firefly/storm grey colorway. Not to mention the shoe had one of the most controversial/memorable print ads of all time. The shoe is just criminally underrated, which speaks to the Alpha Project era in general.” – @nikealphaproject
3. Air Max Light III (1997)
A sneaker that was highlighted in both the men’s and women’s colorways on the iconic Nike phone ads, the Air Max Light ‘97 has a cult following and would certainly do well if retroed properly. I always thought it was cool that the Air Max Light featured Zoom Air in the forefoot and an Air Max sole in the heel. It also has a similar upper to another favorite of mine – the Air Zoom Pounce, which was worn by tennis star Andre Agassi. In my opinion, this is the coolest Air Max Light that ever dropped.
2. Air Max Tailwind II (1997)
A nice, clean runner with plenty of cushioning and a solid follow-up to the ‘96 Tailwind. Unfortunately for this model, it dropped the same year as the super-iconic Air Max 97, so it easily got overlooked. In the current dad-shoe era, I feel like the Tailwind II would thrive – especially in that crispy white/citron/black colorway. There was also a great matching track suit that paired perfectly with this model.
1. Air Max Tailwind (1996)
I really have no explanation as to why this Tailwind hasn’t come back yet. Nick, aka @ogorbust had a pair and loved them.
“They were technically my first ‘Air Max’ I got for track. Previous years were always the Pegasus or Icarus. I was really excited to see larger open Air units and would push on them quite a bit lol. (I got them when) they were a year-old model and colorway in blue/yellow hitting the sales rack, but I loved them nonetheless.”
Also of note is that there is an iconic photo of The Notorious B.I.G. rocking them. So if Nick and Biggie were wearing them, you know they were dope.
Drew is the creator of @nikestories on Instagram. Growing up in the ’90s, Drew loved playing soccer, basketball, tennis, and even dabbled in cross country running. He ended up focusing on tennis in high school and helped lead his team to multiple state titles. His favorite athletes growing up include Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Andre Agassi, and Ken Griffey, Jr. He was smart enough to save all his old Eastbay catalogs from the ’90s and loves sharing them with the sneaker community. Follow him at @nikestories
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
In 1987, Nike designer Tinker Hatfield sparked a revolution.
Is it crazy to talk about a shoe this way? Maybe. But 30 years after its original inception, visible Max Air remains one of the biggest style statements the shoe industry has ever seen, spanning casual wear, running, basketball, training, and more. So what is it that makes Max Air so enduring? Let’s look back and find out.
Posted 3.26 Day 7: Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit
Yesterday, we wondered what more, after thirty years, could Nike have to add to the Air Max line. The answer?
Less weight. Less bulk. And, surprisingly, less Air.
So, why, on Air Max Day 2017 — on the 30th birthday of visible Air — would Nike suddenly dial it back? Because, just like with the Tuned Air of the Air Max Plus, the Air VaporMax Flyknit that launches today was designed to answer an athlete’s specific need. After all, that was Tinker Hatfield’s original goal with every shoe he designed: solve a problem for the athlete.
The problem Nike is solving for here is that not every runner is the same. Just like Tuned Air added stability for overpronators, the VaporMax adds freedom for runners who need a lighter touch.
This starts with a one-piece Flyknit upper that wraps the foot for a snug, sock-like fit. Flyknit provides areas of support and breathability where you need them most without the bulk and weight of leather or synthetic overlays. Areas that need more support or durability – like the heel – are more tightly woven, while areas that need cooling airflow – like over the toe box – feature a looser weave.
Flywire cables are embedded in the Flyknit, wrapping the midfoot before joining the laces. As the laces tighten, so does the level of lockdown over the footbed. And what a minimal footbed it is. In the Air VaporMax Flyknit, Nike has managed to remove almost every single layer standing between the foot and Air cushioning.
VaporMax Air is the lightest version of Air cushioning yet. While still a full-length unit, VaporMax Air is segmented, providing cushioning only where you need it and allowing optimal flexibility. Rubber lugs are then added to high-impact areas for durable traction without unnecessary weight to slow you down.
The shoe world has never seen anything like the Air VaporMax Flyknit. Like many of the revolutionary models that came before it, the VaporMax is poised to spark another revolution and inspire countless athletes, shoe collectors, and industry leaders around the world. It makes us wonder where we’ll be in another thirty years.
So far, we’ve covered the evolution from small heel window to visible forefoot Air, and simple design elements to boundary-breaking style. The next leap Nike made brought the Air Max line full circle. The key word here is full — as in full-length Air.
This transition was not a quick or easy one. 1991’s Air Max 180 made the first big stride towards full-length Air with a unit that seamlessly transitioned from outsole to Air-Sole. Like previous models, the Air Bag was visible on the lateral and medial sides, as well as from the back of the heel.
We’ve said it before: The Air Max revolution is driven by the idea that more is better. Where did this idea come from? The fact that more Air seemed to mean a more comfortable ride. And the shoe industry at large seemed to agree.
So, two years after the Air Max 180, Nike once again delivered on that idea. The Air Max 93 featured 270 degrees of visible Air, extending the unit all the way through the back of the heel. Then, ten years after the very first visible Air Bag hit the market, Nike unveiled the Air Max 97, complete with a full-length Air-Sole unit.
The progression didn’t stop. Now that there was full-length Air, Nike wanted to create a shoe that was ONLY Air. Foam cushioning breaks down over time, especially in running shoes where the repeated impact of heelstrike can be brutal. Max Air, however, doesn’t lose its cushioning properties. The bag self-inflates, so it never loses its shape and you never lose your comfort.
So, Nike said goodbye to foam and in 2006, released the Air Max 360 featuring Caged Air. The shoe was a monumental achievement, and to pay homage to how far the line had come, the Air Max 360 was released in an OG red and white colorway.
Since 2006, we’ve seen new upper technologies and fabrics to decrease weight and update style. We’ve also seen flex grooves added to the Air-Sole design for a more natural range of motion while walking or running.
Thirty years in the making, the Air Max 2017 proves that Max Air technology is here to stay. The line has withstood the test of time in ways that most sneakers only dream of, earning the title of classic while somehow remaining fresh and unique year after year. But at Eastbay, we can’t help but wonder – is there any “more” left to add to the Air Max line? We’ll find out tomorrow – on Air Max Day 2017.
The Air Max 95 paved the way for edgier silhouettes and bolder color choices. As a result, running shoes were taking over street culture and earning a tough reputation in the process. There is no shoe more notorious for this than the Air Max Plus, also known as the TN. Released in 1998, it took the inspiration of the 95 and turned it on its head.
The recognizable wave element is still front and center on the Air Max Plus, but instead of using layered panels, designer Sean McDowel fashioned a synthetic exoskeleton to wrap the entire foot. Meanwhile, the gradient grey of the 95 transformed into a spray-faded upper in brighter hues like Orange Tiger and Hyper Blue. Flat, tube laces and a small neon swoosh finished off this futuristic look.
But when it came to the Air Max Plus, innovation wasn’t only skin deep. Nike had also made updates to the Air technology, because while Max Air was great at comfortable cushioning, some runners needed more. Welcome, Tuned Air. By combining Max Air with structural elements, called hemispheres, the Air Max Plus could provide much-needed stability for overpronators. At heelstrike, these mechanical elements would prevent the foot from rolling inwards, guiding the wearer through a more natural stride. Max Air was no longer a one-size-fits-all cushioning.
The Air Max Plus is not for the faint of heart. This is a shoe that dared to be different, and those who are drawn to it defy definition and crave change. Sound like you?
In 1995, Hatfield stepped back from the Air Max line, and a new designer took the reigns: Sergio Lozano.
Lozano knew the time for subtlety had passed — the running shoe industry was in a slump and the Air Max 95 needed to spark another revolution. Lozano accomplished this by creating a shoe that broke the Air Max mold while remaining true to the line’s philosophy of revealing the invisible.
The secrets of the human body. Nylon lace eyelets wrapped the top of the forefoot, much like the human rib cage, and the layered panels of the upper echoed the muscle fibers hidden beneath our skin. The gradient grey of the original Air Max 95 was also meant to resemble the geographical effects of erosion on the earth over time, leaving us to wonder what surprises Nike could still unearth eight years after visible Air. The answer (as always) was more.
Peeking out from the shoe’s black outsole — the first of its kind for Nike — was the now recognizable Air-Sole unit. But this time, visible Air wasn’t just relegated to the heel. The Air Max 95 had visible Air in the forefoot.
It’s fair to say that Nike wasn’t exactly sure what to do with the Air Max 95. The shoe was so unlike anything that had come before, that it would have to forge its own path through popular culture and the shoe market. And forge, it did. The Air Max 95 became a street style sensation. The famous — or infamous, depending on who you ask — silhouette has been commemorated in song lyrics, graphic novels, and in numerous shoe designs that came after. Are you ready to reveal your true Air Max style? We have original, sneakerboot, or Ultra versions of the Air Max 95 in sizes for the whole family.
As you can see, the changes between the Air Max III and Air Max IV were subtle, and maybe that’s why what we now call the Air Max BW flew under the radar when it was first released. But the idea these changes were based on is an important one — one that shaped the entire evolution of the Nike Air Max Line. And that’s the idea that more is better. More cushioning. More padding. More comfort. More attitude.
And so, in 1991, Nike once again beefed up the Air Bag and carved out a slightly bigger window — earning the name BW. This trend would continue. It seemed the answer to Nike’s question, “What more could you want?” was, well, more. The inspiration behind the BW would lead to the Air Max 180 in 1992 — a shoe with an even larger Air-Sole unit that made contact with the ground for the first time AND was exposed at the heel as well as on the medial and lateral sides.
But that’s not the BW’s only legacy. Like its big brother, the BW would make a lasting impact on the sneaker world in the form of color. This time, the popular hue was Persian Violet. To this day, it sits right next to Infrared as one of the most recognizable colorways in Nike history.
You can still cop the classic colorway on the original version or as a revamped Ultra with a more breathable mesh upper and lighter, more flexible outsole. Get your Air Max fix by checking out our full range of colors and sizes.
Originally dubbed the Air Max III, what we now know as the ’90 took the visible technology of the original and upped the ante. Artfully combining form and function, Hatfield drew the eye straight to the shoe’s Air-Sole unit by surrounding it in color. And not just any color. Infrared.
The original Infrared Air Max ’90 is one of the most iconic style statements of all time. Thanks to Hatfield’s inspired design, this shoe bridged the gap between performance and style in a way that had never been done before. He combined the technology of Nike running with functional elements that appealed to the eye and complemented street style, using ribbing and sharp lines to evoke the forward motion of a runner and a fuller silhouette for an edgy, modern look.
Today, the Air Max ’90 is still key for serious sneaker heads and casual wearers alike. Part of the shoe’s enduring popularity is linked to its adaptability. The ’90 lends itself well to customization, and as a result, you can find unlimited color and material combinations, as well as celebrity and designer collabs that freely mix prints, patterns, and textures in new and interesting ways. Twenty-seven years after its release, the Air Max ’90 continues pushing the design envelope and challenging the world to see sneakers in a whole new light.
Inspired by the Pompidou Centre in Paris, France — which uses its structural features as visible design elements — Hatfield decided it was time for Max Air cushioning to come out of hiding. Nike had already been using the midsole technology across many of its performance shoes since 1979, but Hatfield knew it was time to make a change — it was time to bring Max Air front and center.
What exactly is Max Air? Actually, it’s not even air at all, but a urethane pouch filled with gas. Designed by aerospace engineer Frank Rudy, Max Air was lighter than traditional midsole foam and provided better impact protection and a smoother running stride.
Hatfield knew that while runners loved the feel of Max Air, they weren’t actually sure what it was. So, he decided to increase the size of the Max Air bag, carve out a section of the shoe’s foam midsole, and expose the cushioning. And so, visible Air was born.
Today, the Air Max 1 is a retro casual shoe, but in 1987 it was a top-of-the-line runner. Throughout its 30 years, the Air Max 1 has gone through many changes, innovations, and updates. The OG university red and white colorway remains a classic must-have for many collectors, while newer Air Max fans benefit from recent technology updates like lightweight Ultra and the snug fit of Flyknit. Today, we’re kicking off our Week Of Air Max celebration by featuring a shoe that combines both of these tech updates: The Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Flyknit.
This stylish remix of the classic kick keeps the traditional Air-Sole design of the original, but cuts down on even more weight with a breathable, cored out Ultra midsole. The finishing touch is a one-piece Flyknit upper for a sock-like fit and premium look.
Want more Air Max? Don’t worry — we’ll be back every day this week to feature another of our favorite Air Max models from the past 30 years. Trust us, you don’t want to miss this.
Every revolution has to start somewhere. In 1987, Nike Air wasn’t a new concept. In fact, it was already being used in many of the brand’s performance shoes. But, as the saying goes, seeing is believing.
The Pompidou Centre in Paris, France is home to an enormous public library, museum of modern art, and center for music research. But more than that, the building is known for its inside-out design. The way the Centre uses its inner workings and mechanics as design elements inspired Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield. He saw how the Pompidou Centre had revolutionized the architecture world, and he had similar plans for the running shoe industry.
And so, the Air Max 1 was born. For the first time, customers could see their shoe’s technology in action and understand how it was working to make them better. And they loved it. Nike took visible Max Air and hit the ground running — and over the past 29 years, they haven’t missed a step.
Never have sport and casual style come together as they did during the creation of Air Max. In honor of Air Max Day, here are some of our favorites.
For our first pick, we’re starting at the beginning… kind of. The Nike Air Max 1 Ultrais a new remix of this cult classic. Don’t be afraid — all the style elements of the original are here to stay, just on a more breathable, lightweight frame. Now you can wear your favorite Nike style all day long without ever breaking a sweat.
Released in 1990, the Air Max 90 was only the second shoe to sport Tinker Hatfield’s visible Max Air bag. The shoe’s design elements are meant for those who feel the need for speed, with sharp angles and ribbing symbolizing forward motion. There’s no better way to finish off your look than with a clean, black and white sneaker.
Size matters, and that’s why Tinker Hatfield went all out on the “big window” of the Air Max BW. Released in 1991, it featured a beefed-up silhouette, more Max Air, and more plush cushioning with every step. For Air Max Day, we’ve chosen the ultimate color — Persian Violet — considered by sneakerheads to be THE most popular color of any Air Max shoe. Ever.
If you’re looking to add a throwback style to your shoe collection, the Air Max 95 is a great place to start. Designed by Sergio Lozano, the original shoe inspo took cues from the sinews and tendons of the human foot. The result? A shoe drastically different than anything the Air Max line had seen before. And an instant classic.
If we can learn anything from the Air Max 95, it’s that change is good. That’s why we’re loving these next two options.
The Air Max 90 Ultra and Air Max BW Ultra are new takes on old-school cool. Nike Ultra is bringing a breath of fresh air — literally — to some of your favorite OG styles by adding breathable new uppers and more lightweight midsoles. We broke it all down for you here, but don’t just take our word for it.
This Air Max 90 Ultra keeps the sought-after Infrared color of the original, so you can rock this style staple in a more comfortable, lightweight way than ever before.
With its bold design lines and maxed-out cushioning, the Air Max BW lent itself perfectly to the casual world. That, combined with new Ultra construction, makes the BW the perfect choice for the warmer months ahead.
While the most classic Air Max styles have long since traded in their running roots for a more laid-back life, there are still performance shoes that use Max Air. We think speed and style should go hand in hand, so here are the Air Max running shoes we think embody the best combination of performance and looks.
The time for spring cleaning is upon us, and nothing says fresh like a sparkling pair of all-white kicks. That’s why Nike created the Spring White Pack.
This spotlessAir Max 2016, available in both men’s and women’s sizes, is perfect for runners and casual wearers alike. A visible, full-length Air-Sole unit cushions on impact and ups your style game. Flywire cables through the laces provide runners with customizable lockdown, so they can feel secure over any distance, while a breathable mesh upper allows cooling airflow to keep all-day wearers feeling dry and fresh.
Looking for a newer take on the Air Max line? Then this pristine Air Max Sequent is the shoe for you. With a visible Max Air bag in the heel and a breathable white mesh upper, the Sequent is another great way to clean up your shoe game.
Year after year, the core Air Max line has brought together performance running tech features with classic, everyday style to create shoes for everyone to enjoy. Though these two ideas seem very different, the combination has created some of Nike’s most iconic shoes. Bringing together opposite ideas to create one cohesive, complete feeling is also the inspiration behind this Air Max 2015 color.
The Dos Angeles color celebrates the city of Los Angeles, but the bigger idea behind the shoe is the duality found in everyday life. Light and dark, motivated and laid-back, working hard and playing hard — whatever the combination, our complicated natures deserve to be honored.
What better way to do that than with this pair of Air Max 2015s? Lace ’em up for a run on days when nothing can slow you down, or kick back and relax, using them as a finishing touch to any outfit.
Nike continues to play with the idea of light and dark in their Equinox Pack. These three Air Max shoes are for guys only, and take their inspiration from the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, or the two times a year when day and night are almost the same length — equal parts light and dark.
The shoes in the Equinox pack are the Air Max 2016, Air Max Sequent, and Air Max Excellerate 4. The Excellerate 4 combines the Flywire cables of the 2016 and the heel Max Air bag of the Sequent to create a comfortable, stylish shoe that can keep up as you move from class to work to your evening run.
And there you have it — Eastbay’s top picks for Air Max Day 2016. We believe in getting the best to be your best, and there’s no question that the Air Max line is just that.
But today, we don’t just want to tell you what we stand for. It’s Air Max Day, after all, and like we said before, seeing is believing. So here’s a look at how Eastbay employees are celebrating Air Max Day 2016.
For a closer look at how Eastbay is celebrating Air Max Day, plus behind-the-scenes info on our athletes, shoes, and catalogs, follow OfficialEastbay on Snapchat.