Brands such as Reebok began surpass Nike in size with the invention of Reebok Workout, designs to cater the aerobics craze in the 80’s. Ni-ke decided to reinvent themselves, aiming to design a shoe that could be worn as easily on the track as they could fashionably on the street. They wanted to upgrade their design group, and hosted at 24-hour de-sign contest in which Rob Strasser invited Tinker Hatfield to compete in. Tinker worked the whole 24 hours and didn’t go to bed that night, working towards something unique, something that told a story. In his sketch, he positioned the shoes not on a runner, but next to a European motor scooter, telling a story that his sneaker was the perfect shoe to ride a motorcycle in, hop off and go for a jog. Two days later, Tinker was told he was now a shoe designer for Nike.
Tinker had now become the lead shoe designer for Nike, and one of his first projects was the Air Max 1. Hatfield wanted to think different-ly, he thought. “Let’s make the bag a little bit wider, make sure it’s vis-ible, make sure it’s stable, but then let’s remove part of the midsole so we can actually see it.” Inspired by Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou, a controversial building turned ‘inside out’ exposing its internal me-chanics to its outside, and its designers, the bad-boy architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, whom he credited as personal heroes. The now external piping of the building was painted in primary colours to emphasize their work.
After Hatfield’s sketches had come out, it was widely discussed at Ni-ke that he had pushed it too far and many wanted him fired. Nike’s head of marketing for running felt that is would be impossible to sell a shoe with an exposed airbag that looked fragile, and that people who think the airbag could be punctured. Once more, the bright red stripe across the shoe did not look like a normal running shoe.
Tinker Hatfield’s Air Max 1 sketch.
March 26th 1987, Nike and Tinker Hatfield changed running footwear forever with the release of the Nike Air Max 1. The timeless silhouette was the first Nike shoe to feature visible Air cushioning, providing a window into the soul and sole of the Swoosh, the Air Max 1 helped jumpstart a revolution of Air that’s still alive and well today. The same year Nike aired their first television ad, the AM1 was part of the “Air Pack” which featured the Air Trainer 1, Air Sock, Air Revolution and Air Safari.
Since its arrival, the Air Max 1 has been innovated with everything from Engineered Mesh to Lunarlon cushioning and Flywire.