Year Released: 1987
Standout Feature: First ever visible Air unit
With the Air Max 1, which is sometimes referred to as the Air Max 87, Tinker Hatfield flipped the footwear industry upside down, literally, by training his focus on the sole of the sneaker and creating the first visible Air unit of its kind. Hatfield’s inspiration came from the Pompidou Centre in Paris, a complex known for its unique deconstructed architecture.
Not only was the Air unit visible, but it was bigger than ever before. According to Nike’s advertisements from this time period, the sneaker’s Air unit was three times bigger than those found in previous sneakers, hence the name “Air Max.” This increased Air volume meant a more cushioned landing for runners as they hit the ground, but it didn’t hurt that it looked really cool, too.
The “wow” factor of the first of its kind—visible Air unit paired with Tinker Hatfield’s clean lines and sleek shape—proved to be a hit with style circles almost immediately. Years later, the Air Max 1 was used as the canvas for several popular Nike collaborations, making its lifestyle appeal unparalleled.