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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Your Jordan Retro Destination Since 1985

Your Jordan Retro Destination Since 1985

Jordan Retro Vault Story

The Air Jordan line turned the basketball world upside down when it debuted in 1985. Over 30 years later, Jordans continue to be some of the world’s most sought-after shoes, delivering the perfect combination of innovative performance and street-worthy style.

Eastbay has been there every step of the way, from the introduction of the iconic AJ 1 to the hottest Jordans being released today. We combed through our archives, finding classic AJs that were showcased in the Eastbay magazine throughout the years. Eastbay has been your Jordan Retro Destination since 1985, when the AJ 1 graced our cover.

Check out some of our throwback magazines that featured famous Jordans and click here to see our huge selection of Retros available now.

 

A Look Back

1985 was the first time Air Jordans appeared in our catalog, thanks to the Retro 1 on this cover.

Jordan Retro Image 1

 


 

November of 1994 saw the debut of the soon-to-be-legendary Air Jordan 10.

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Eastbay Unboxed: An Inside Look At The Last 35 Years

Eastbay Unboxed: An Inside Look At The Last 35 Years

Eastbay

It’s easy to see a problem as a problem and not as an opportunity. It takes a lot of courage and hard work to find a solution, act upon it, and see it through, but that’s exactly what Art Juedes and Rick Gering did with Eastbay.

Throughout their time as competitive runners in high school and college, Juedes and Gering realized the best running shoes were hard to come by for athletes in small towns. As lifelong friends (they were born two days apart in the same hospital and grew up three houses away), they had always wanted to go into business together, and this quickly became the perfect opportunity.

It all started with one simple problem, but instead of ignoring it, they created a solution and poured their blood, sweat, and tears into it like true entrepreneurs.

The Problem: Athletes in Central Wisconsin had to travel more than 100 miles to buy high-quality running shoes.

The Solution: Bring the shoes to the athletes. Juedes and Gering drove nearly 200 miles to Milwaukee to buy $7,000 worth of running shoes. With a carload of shoes and a dream, the two of them drove around Central Wisconsin, selling shoes and teaching athletes and coaches about the benefits of the right gear.

The Hardship: To make Eastbay a success, Juedes and Gering knew they had to fully commit and make it a full-time job. As with any start-up company, the first year didn’t bring in a lot of money, and what it did bring in was poured right back into the company. The two founders were pocketing just $5 a week, relying on their wives for financial support. By the second year, that number grew to $20 a week.

The Turning Point: Eastbay grew as large as it could by the mid-1990s, and the only way to make the leap to a global leader was to seek out help. In 1997, Eastbay joined Foot Locker Inc. (then called Woolworth Athletic Group) to give them more access to professional athletes and a wider range of gear.

The Evolution: For 18 years, Eastbay gear was ordered through the mail or over the phone. In 1998, eastbay.com went from a simple informational site to an active ecommerce site. Today, eastbay.com is one of the leading athletic retail sites and offers most brands, colors, styles, and sizes than anyone else.

The Result: It started as a homegrown company, and despite 35 years of evolution, that hometown heritage hasn’t changed. The idea in the beginning was to help athletes become better, and that hasn’t changed — we’ve just gotten better at it. Eastbay has been introducing new ways to help athletes to become their best, and through the largest selection of gear, expert training tips, and exclusive looks into the lives of the pros, Eastbay has become the first choice for athletes.

Check out Eastbay’s 35th anniversary to see a timeline of the moments that shaped Eastbay.