The 3 Best Air Max 1’s of 2021/2022
Celebrating the legendary silhouette's 35th anniversary
Air Max Day is coming up! 26 March marks the anniversary of one of the most renowned silhouettes of all time. Marking its 35th birthday, this year is even more special for the AM1, so Nike has some specialties in store for us. The Tinker Hatfield-designed sneaker from 1987 has been subject to multiple retro-colorways and new editions in the last year, with Nike really pushing the silhouette to get it back to the top of its reign. Last year, we provided an overview of the best Air Max 1’s, but we’ve seen beautiful new releases since then. Therefore, we round off the 3 best Nike Air Max 1’s of the last year.
3. Air Max 1 CLOT Kiss of Death
Chinese label CLOT revived their iconic take on the Air Max 1 “Kiss of Death” from 2006 fifteen years later in 2021. With minor adjustments on the finish, the sneaker is an even more enhanced version of the original. The most striking features of this AM1 are the adjusted shape, making the sneaker somewhat more athletic and performance-based, as well as the translucent toebox.
The latter allows for creative sock-shoe combinations, giving you all freedom to extract the most out of the fire-inspired colorway. Other details include a distressed suede-upper, intricate stitching on the heel, and neon-green details on the eyestays. Further, a reflexology-inspired outsole symbolizes the traditional Chinese remedial practice of acupuncture.
The sneaker is special not only because of the collaboration with CLOT. While this definitely adds to the hype, the sneaker itself is more than just a simple AM1, with the altered shape and elaborate details making this grail stand out from the rest.
This qualifies the Air Max 1 CLOT Kiss of Death as one of the best Air Max 1’s of recent times, and with the current hype around the silhouette, it’s definitely worth the price.
2. Air Max 1 Air Max Day Pack
Last year, fans were somewhat disappointed with the only mildly attractive Air Max 1 releasing on Air Max Day. While the AM90 Bacon made a comeback, along with multiple new colorways of Air Max Models, Nike’s take on the flagship was more of an understatement and failed to blow up.
Nike Air Max 1 "La Ville Lumiére (EU-Exclusive)
This year however, Nike is releasing regional-exclusive colorways of the silhouette, and I have never been more sad to live in Europe. The Europe/Africa exclusive “La Ville Lumiére” pays homage to Paris, the City of Light, with an illumination-inspired design. The women’s exclusive sneaker features iridescent paneling on the mid-panel and heel, symbolizing the light inspiration, with “Summit White”, “Light Bone”, and “Navy” colors featured on the remaining upper. To mark the silhouette’s anniversary, the tongue label features large “3.26” (could’ve made it 26.3 since it’s EU exclusive anyway), as well as a metallic keychain featuring the date, a Nike Swoosh, and an Air Max 1 silhouette.
Nike Air Max 1 "Blueprint" (US-Exclusive)
Next up, we have lucky USA, in the beautiful “Blueprint” colorway. Taking this name quite literally, the sneaker emphasizes the lengthy design process of Tinker Hatfield’s 1987-made silhouette. Probably inspired by the “Sketch-to-Shelf” editions from 2019, the tongue label and swoosh feature blueprint schematics, adding a work-in-progress element to the shoe.
Ironically, the regional exclusive also features a stitched globe on the heel, which symbolizes the sneaker’s global appeal, according to Nike. Generally, the white/blue upper is a beautiful colorway, and the intricate details make the shoe even more special, resulting in a gorgeous summer-ready silhouette, that we Europeans will unluckily only see rarely.
Nike Air Max 1 Premium / Wabi-Sabi
Lastly, and perhaps the most exciting colourway of the tripartite regional exclusive is the Asia/Pacific Air Max 1 Premium/Wabi-Sabi. The blend of canvas, leather and suede on the upper somewhat resemble the iconic “Susan Missing Link” from early 2019. The shoe features a color-mismatched mudguard, alternating between olive green and brown on the left and right sneaker, respectively. White stitching across the sneaker also add to the “unfinished” look, which is then contradicted by the cracked midsole.
The theme of balance between unfinished and overworn is also reflected by the interchangeable tongue labels, allowing the wearer to have some influence on the final look as well. Work in Progress and Worn in Process, the Air Max 1 Premium/Wabi-Sabi is perhaps the one of the best Air Max Day special of all time.
1. Patta x Nike Air Max 1
Arguably the best Air Max 1 to release in the last 12 months. Iconic Amsterdam-based Patta teamed up with Nike once again to release a quadruple line-up of beautiful Air Max 1 colorways. The duo has come a long way (read more about their history here), but shows that they are here to stay with The Wave collection.
Patta x Nike Air Max 1 "Monarch"
Debuting in a Dutch-inspired Monarch orange, the designers also adjusted the shape of the silhouette somewhat to make this sneaker instantly recognizable. Replacing the linear mudguard with a wavy pattern creates a clean and minimalistic, yet eye-catching design that Air Max 1 fans instantly adored. Further, details on the tongue and insole reflect Patta’s influence in the design process, with an accompanying metal bracelet adding the finishing details. Whether you want to keep it in the eyestays or wear it around your wrist, it’s a beautiful detail which can enhance your outfit even more.
Patta x Nike Air Max 1 "Noise Aqua"
A month later, the blue Noise Aqua dropped, ranked by many as the best in the collection. The Aqua blue creates a pastel backdrop to combine with a beautiful summer fit.
Nike x Patta Air Max 1 Maroon & Coconut Milk
While the third “Maroon” colorway was less hyped, its success is yet to come. The odd colour-blocking disgruntled sneakerheads at first, but seeing the sneaker on feet definitely convinces of the shoe’s potential.
Lastly, the Coconut Milk black-white sneaker released, this time in more limited quantities. A clean Panda-like Air Max 1 in collaboration with Patta is a guaranteed grail, and the sneaker (like its older brothers) has been rising in resell since release.
Drawing on past inspirations and future aspirations, Patta emphasized culture and heritage in this collection, once again proving their legendary status in the streetwear scene. The collab which will remain collector’s pieces for years to come marks one of the best Air Max 1 releases of all time.
Any Air Max 1 that’s still on your must-cop list? What was your favourite AM1 release of the last year? Let us know in the comments.
by Freddy Schwoerer of Drip Drops
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