The Nike Air Max 1 is probably one of the most iconic sports shoes out there. But it turns out it had a predecessor that’s been relegated to the Nike archives. Until now. Settle in, ladies and gents as this is the legendary tale of the first Nike Air Max: the Nike Air Max Zero.
Most people have been led to believe the Nike Air Max 1 was designed in one swift movement. But that’s not the full story. Drawing on inspiration from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s Vice President for Design and Special Projects crafted a shoe with Air-Sole units to give the sensation of air underfoot over a number of sketches. Among these sketches was the concept the Nike Air Max Zero.
But alas, Hatfield was designing beyond his time and had crafted a shoe that used technology and materials that were too advanced for production. Fast forward 29 years and the Nike Sportswear design team stumbled across an interesting sketch while hunting for inspiration to celebrate the impending second annual Air Max Day. “There was an Air Max retrospective on display, complete with early prototypes and samples that had never seen the light of day,” says Graeme McMillan, the Nike designer responsible for bringing the Air Max Zero to life. “It was like an archaeological dig in terms of the items you don’t usually get to see unless you work there.”
The two design gurus met and Hatfield gave McMillan a full rundown on the Nike Air Max Zero. McMillan added Nike’s latest innovations including the newly-introduced Air Max 1 Ultra outsole, fuse uppers to reduce bulk and yarn mesh to with a focus on breathability. With a flourish, Hatfield’s original concept was realised and the unisex Nike Air Max Zero was finally ready to run out into the world.
You can purchase your own little piece of #AirMax Nike history from today to celebrate Air Max Day! But hurry as there’s only one per customer. And as the Air Max Zero is a unisex shoe it’s important to remember that for sizing.