The lineage of the Air Max 1 is as rich as any of the other groundbreaking stars in Nike’s storied catalog. Thinking about how the Air Max 1 redefined not just the design of contemporary sneakers but Nike’s own commitment to technology and innovation, perhaps the Air Max 1 occupies even more rarefied air. But while Nike’s own design teams (including sneaker deity and father of Air Max himself, Tinker Hatfield) are the ones bringing life to the game-changing ideas emerging out of the Beaverton campus, there’s something to be said about the not-so-secret society that has so thoroughly embraced, enhanced, and energized Nike’s designs, especially the Air Max 1. The input from Nike’s community of fanatics, retailers, and collectors hasn’t simply helped influence new Air Max 1 colorways. Rather, it’s the community that has directly inspired some of the most important and lusted after releases from across Nike’s archive of Air Max.
In an homage to those who have helped pave the way for the Air Max 1’s continued success, and the hype that still surrounds many of the silhouette’s most visually stimulating iterations to this day, Nike continues its Air Max Day celebration with the Air Max 1 “Master.”The Air Max 1 “Master” is a lot to take in at first glance (taking in over 30 decades of collaboration isn’t something you can do lightly). A literal fusion of several Air Max 1 retoolings and aesthetic redesigns, it draws natural comparisons to Nike’s “What The” mashup releases. The combination of a variety of different Air Max 1 editions—including the OG Air Max 1 in University Red, the perforated upper from 2005’s Kidrobot x Air Max collaboration, the Atmos Air Max 1 “Safari” “Animal Camo” and “Viotech” models, and the Patta x Air Max 1 “Chlorophyll” —isn’t simply a look back at certain notable drops; the mashed up “Master” is also an examination of the unique identities that have helped keep the Air Max 1 at the top of sneaker conversations since 1987.
Don’t get it twisted: enthusiasts aren’t just antisocial guys trading in online shopping tips and sneaker survival stories over the Internet. Rather, enthusiasts encompass the designers, retailers and fans that have helped evolve and innovate on both the base features and the story of the OG Air Max 1. For radical Air Max reworks, take 2006’s “Kiss of Death” Air Max 1 NL partnership with Hong Kong-based CLOT. Virtually redesigning the silhouette from the ground up, the “East-meets-West” deconstructed design removed the sock liner and added the model’s iconic transparent toe box—one of only three Nike designs to boast such a detail at the time.