March 26, 1987 brought us one of the most infamous sneakers in history—the Air Max 1. While Air Max technology was originally introduced eight years earlier in the Tailwind, the Air Max 1 was the first time the air technology was made at a larger scale and visible from the outside. Since its debut as both a function and fashion staple with the Air Max 1, air technology has been through quite the evolution. With its countless appearances in coveted collaborations with athletes, brands and sneaker stores like Atmos, to its key role in various sneaker silhouettes, Nike’s air technology has made itself a staple in just about every sneaker collector’s closet.
Yesterday, Nike hosted events celebrating Air Max’s big 30th birthday. While other countries celebrated in their own ways, here in New York City, we had a go big or go home mentality, as per usual. Celebrations were hosted in multiple locations throughout the city, each with their own surprises. Here’s a taste of what went down during the big birthday bash at our three favorite locations:
The Nike Air Vapormax
Before getting into specific locations, it’s important to note the star of yesterday’s show: The Nike Air Vapormax. This brand new silhouette takes Nike’s air technology to the next level with a sole that incorporates huge air pockets that make the Air Max 1’s visible air tech look like nothing. With previous Air Max models, you’re walking on a sole with air as a small buffer, but with the Vapormax, you’re basically just walking on air.
Sneakeasy at Nike Clubhouse
At the Sneakeasy exhibit tucked away in Nike’s Clubhouse, Nike product specialists walked visitors through the history of air technology and explained Air Vapormax features.
“The Nike Air Vapormax is the lightest, most high performing, most flexible Air Max we’ve ever created, weighing at just 8.8 oz in a men’s size 9 and with a range of motion similar to the Nike Free RN.”
There was also a chance for visitors to customize their own pair of Vapomax sneakers in an ultra fancy Nike id room, a room dedicated to the history of Nike’s air technology and a small exhibit centered around this year’s Vote Forward contest.
The third floor of the exhibit had a few more surprises—my favorite being a wall of custom Air Max sneakers designed by Alex Lee and Ava Nirui. Their cheeky designs all play on the name ‘Air Max’ in different ways:
Nike’s new multi-level retail complex in Soho was the hub of the celebration, housing multiple installations, interactive activities and most importantly, a ton of free stuff (no complaints). My favorite display was a huge wall of different Air Max models accompanied by a giant movable screen. As you move the screen across the wall, different descriptions pop up over the sneaker you’re looking at.
NikeLab 21 Mercer
NikeLab released three very special sneakers, all incorporating the Vapormax sole. The most exciting release—and I’m guessing you’ll agree—is the Marc Newson x Nike NikeLab Air Vapormax. This isn’t the first time the Industrial Designer has collaborated with Nike (remember these?), and I certainly hope it’s not the last:
A very limited number of the funky sneaker-moccasins were released yesterday. Unfortunately, the smallest size released was an 8 men’s, and I’m a 7. Purchasing was out of the question, but that didn’t take away from the nerdy moment I was able to enjoy. I have to say, they’re very comfortable and fun to wear—the Vapormax sole is extremely light and easy to move around in.
Air Max Day was a fun time all around. I always enjoy sneaker events because of the pure enthusiasm fans and collectors have about shoes—maybe because it justifies my obsession. There’s nothing like seeing or being a sneakerhead in a sneaker store, on a sneaker holiday—except maybe seeing or being a kid in a candy store the day after Halloween (when all the candy is half-priced, of course). Till next year, Air Max Day!