Will their legacy remain forever?
26 March 2021 – Air Max Day: celebrating the 34th anniversary of the historic Air Max 1. 34 years of Air has gifted the sneaker-world some incredible models, collaborations, colourways and special editions! To honour the occasion, we bring you our top five Air Max 1 models of the last years!
5. Atmos Air Max 1 Elephant
Out of the numerous collaborations between the Japanese sneaker store and the American Footwear giant, the ‘Elephant’ is probably the most iconic. Originally released in 2007, it saw a retro 10 years later on Air Max Day, re-sparking the hype among Air Max enthusiasts. Nike gave the sneaker a second release as the winner of the Nike "Vote Back "campaign, triumphing above over 100 other candidates.
The shoe draws inspiration from the Air Jordan 3, combined with vivid imaginations of water-splashing elephants and jade gemstones. Atmos have never missed their shot with Air Max 1 collaborations, the Animal Packs are timeless and impactful in the sneaker world, but the Elephant is by far the most iconic of them all. The colourway was so popular, that the design was doubled-up on Nike's popular Nike SB Dunk Low in 2020.
Atmos x Nike SB Dunk Low
4. CLOT x Air Max 1 ‘Kiss of Death’
The Hong-Kong-based label has collaborated with Nike on some extremely coveted Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1, but their edition of the Air Max 1 stands out from the rest. Marking the first collaboration between the two brands, the sneaker originally released in 2006, but is set to return today, for Air Max Day 2021. The shoe features Chinese accupuncture-inspired details, such as anatomy-inspired insoles and outsoles highlighting stress points of the body. A translucent toe-box highlights the detailed insole and creates a unique look that gives wearers the opportunity to match their socks too!
The shoe is a seamless anecdote of CLOT’s aspiration: to bridge Chinese and Western culture through footwear and apparel. The sneaker sparked the beginning of a flourishing bond, that further inspired subsequent collections.
CLOT x Nike Air Force 1 Low & Air Jordan 1 Mid
3. Nike Air Max 1 Parra
Renowned Dutch artist Piet Parra has left his legendary colour-spectrum on numerous Nike sneakers, including the Nike SB Blazer and the Nike SB Dunk. However, the perhaps best-known and most coveted collaboration is the Nike Air Max 1 Parra.
Released in 2018, it renders the model in a summery contrast of colours, resembling the artworks that Piet Parra is known for. Shades of pink, gray and blue, along with artful details such as polka dots and stripes create an abstract landscape imagery. Just like an artwork, Piet Parra embroidered his signature on the piece, stitched into the forefoot of the sneaker.
The shoe also released as a rare Friends & Family version, omitting the swoosh for an even cleaner aesthetic. For those looking for an even rarer pair: the Nike Parra Air Max 1 ‘Amsterdam’ from 2005 will break your bank – provided you even find a pair in your size!
Nike x Parra Air Max 1 Friends & Family and Air Max 1 Amsterdam
All Parra collabs are hard to get your hands on, but the vibrant summer feel these shoes emit is unbeatable, undoubtedly deserving a rank in our top 5!
2. Air Max 1 City Pack
Air Max 2021 will feature a set of US city-inspired Air Max silhouettes, but these have no chance to trump the possibly most aesthetic city-pack to release so far. In 2020, Nike honored London and Amsterdam with two city-themed Air Max 1 colourways releasing just before Air Max Day 2020.
London adds a blend of Smoke Grey and Valerian Blue, honouring the River Thames, the concrete jungle, and possibly the infamous rainy weather the city is often associated with. Amsterdam gets represented in the form of its autumn-toned architecture and ambience, with the city’s symbolic ‘XXX’ stitched on the heel.
The collection creates a contrast of warm and cold hues, both sharing some signatures of their titular inspiration. Both shoes are incredibly clean, easy to wear and give you the chance to represent your hometown or the place you have always dreamed of visiting.
1. Nike Air Max 1/97 Sean Wotherspoon
Technically only 50% Air Max 1, visually even less, but this sneaker deserves to be at the top spot in everything Air-Max related. Definitely the best release of 2018, potentially of the decade, this shoe will remain an icon for years and years to come.
Winning the Nike Design Contest, Sean Wotherspoon was given the opportunity to represent his history and the Californian atmosphere in the form of a sneaker for Air Max Day 2018. The idea of applying an Air Max 97 upper onto an Air Max 1 midsole thrilled sneakerheads, and the implementation was flawless. Texture, design, colours, everything was perfect.
Surf, Skate, Sun, in a sneaker. 50% Air Max 1, 50% Air Max 97, 100% California:
The “Wotherspoon” soon became classic, inspiring apparel, accessories, even car paintjobs! It isn’t easy getting your hands on a brand-new pair in 2021, but the shoe is unarguably a must-have for sneakerheads and collectors.
(Honorable Mention): Nike Air Max 1 Sean Wotherspoon
While fans were anticipating a second collaboration in the form of an Air Max 1 (which would have made it easier to include in the list), Nike and Sean Wotherspoon parted ways in 2019. However, images of this scratch-off silhouette emerged on social media, and sneakerhead/rapper Lil Yachty actually owns a sample pair. Regardless, to the dismay of all fans, the sneaker will unfortunately never see a wider release.
by Freddy Schwoerer of Drip Drops