As we near the thirtieth anniversary of the Tinker-designed Air Max 1 running shoe, Nike has taken the time to explore the evolution of this famous model – the first sneaker with visible Nike Air technology. Six distinct installments of the shoes have shown that the evolution is geared toward lightweight and breathability while keeping the soul of the shoes intact, and thus far, Nike has achieved what they’ve set out to accomplish. Soon enough, the next chapter of Air Max 1 will debut (likely the Ultra SE or the Flyknit that has been leaked out earlier), and of course, 2017 is when things will get interesting given the incredible 30-year milestone. Take a walk through Air Max 1 history below.

AIR MAX 1 OG, 1987

It’s the one that started it all. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the original Air Max 1 features a traditional mesh and suede construction that was perfectly lightweight and breathable at the time. Its most defining feature though; a visible Air unit in the heel that was unlike anything seen at the time.

AIR MAXIM 1, 2009

In the years following its debut, the Air Max 1 continued to release in traditional fashion. It wasn’t until 2009 that the Air Max 1 was modernized for elevated comfort with the innovative Air Maxim 1. Taking inspiration from pinnacle models at the time such as the LunarRacer and the Zoom Victory Track Spike, the icon was updated with Acespan mesh, Flywire, a three-piece injected phylon midsole and a new overall shape that paved the way for new innovations in comfort such as Ultra technology.

AIR MAX 1 EM, 2013

2013 saw Engineered Mesh take over the Air Max 1. Similar to the Hyperfuse edition, the updated Air Max 1 featured a full mesh construction, complete with the iconic suede overlays in a vibrant red hue. The Engineered Mesh allowed for a zoned construction where tighter mesh was placed in areas where durability was most needed. Flexible mesh was utilized in areas where breathability was key.

AIR MAX 1 TAPE, 2013

Also in 2013, the Air Max 1 was innovated yet again with a unique tape rendition. Similar to previous versions, the Air Max 1 Tape features a Hyperfuse upper with a classic suede mudguard in red. The upper was further innovated with a unique taping process throughout the upper that mimic the OG’s design lines.


Lunarlon cushioning helped innovate the world of running footwear in 2008. The exceptional cushioning innovation was applied to the Air Max 1 in 2014, coming together with the AM1’s iconic visible Air to forever elevate cushioning. The updated set up was coupled with a no-sew upper to further lower weight while creating additional breathability.


Arguably the most innovative iteration of the Air Max 1, the Air Max 1 Ultra innovated the original from top to bottom. The upper was re-created with a one-piece synthetic suede featuring laser perforations. Down below, a new cored out Ultra tooling helped reduce weight and create additional flexibility.

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