The end of June marked the very first Bespoke Air Max 1 Course offered by the guys at London Sneaker School (LSS). The five-day intensive course began on Monday the 22nd of June and wrapped up on Friday when the three shoemaking students unveiled their final products to a crowd of onlookers. I was lucky enough to be invited down to the workshop over the course of the week to meet the guys, snap some photographs and get a feel for how LSS conduct their sneaker construction lessons. The experience as a whole was so much fun and I learnt a lot just from watching and listening, despite not participating myself.
Prior to the start of the course, London Sneaker School provides you with a template of an Air Max 1, as well as a list of materials which are on offer to use. This gives you an opportunity to become familiar with some of the leathers and other materials which you will use during your time at LSS. It also means you can come up with some design ideas before stepping into the workshop.
Upon arrival, I was shown through the schedule for the week to follow as well as the impressive underground workshop located in Hackney, London. The three students; Morgan, Danny and Damon each had their own ideas about the direction they were heading in with their own AM1 designs. While for some it was solely an idea in their head, others had exact mockups of what they wanted their shoes to look like.
Every component of the Air Max 1’s you create during your course at LSS is fully customisable meaning you have complete creative control over your finished sneaker. Even the colour of the outsole, midsole and air bubble can be selected to fit your preferences, achieved by using Nike ID (or By You) soles as donors for your handmade pair.
Some materials available, for example, more stretchy leathers, can be harder to work with, which can prove problematic if it’s your first time using them. However, as part of the course, you first assemble a practice upper of an Air Max 1. You do this in the same fashion as you would if you were making your final piece, serving as a tester to experiment with materials and processes which you will rely on further in the week.
‘Piet Mondrain’ Nike Air Max 1’s by Damon (@Damonma1)
During the five day course, students are taught everything there is to know about how a sneaker is assembled by hand. This is perhaps the feature of the course which piqued my initial interest, as not only do you end up with your own bespoke’s, but you learn about the fundamentals of shoemaking. The guys were directed through everything from material selection, cutting and sewing, stitching and clicking panels, lasting and sole bonding by Thomas and Jase.
‘Horween Beast’ Nike Air Max 1’s by Morgan (@Morprime)
While previous experience may play a factor in the outcome of your shoe, it is not necessarily important. The three shoemaking students each had a varying experience when it came to shoemaking, yet each of them left the course with a sublime pair of Air Max 1’s assembled from scratch. While there may be some glue marks or imperfections, this is to be expected. Any handmade product is more than likely to have a few flaws here and there, especially if you haven’t done anything like it before. But these ‘imperfections’ only add to the character of one’s shoe and, in my opinion, serve as a reminder of the experience as a whole.
‘Kickin’ Off’ Nike Air Max 1’s by Danny (@Dannychillman)
Both Thomas and Jase are excellent teachers and their knowledge of shoemaking is clear from the moment you meet them. After witnessing the course first hand and seeing the final products come off the last I am even more keen to jump onto the course myself. If you share the same excitement as I do and would like to learn how to construct classic sneakers yourself, head over to the London Sneaker School website. At the time of writing this there are three upcoming sessions in the near future which are as follows:
Furthermore, the guys at LSS are currently running a giveaway in collaboration with @Morprime giving you the chance to win a spot on their Air Max 1 course for free! Follow the link below to London Sneaker School’s Instagram to enter:
Sneaker popularity over the last ten years has expanded at an unprecedented rate and now, what started out as a subculture intertwined with music, sport and skateboarding has blown up into a leading economic industry. At the same time, we live in an age of growing creativity amongst young people, where individuals want to create and learn about processes which may result in their favourite pair of shoes. Luckily for us, learning these skills is no longer out of reach, as professionals of the art have moved in a more transparent direction when it comes to sharing their knowledge.
In a movement which began primarily in the US, sneakerheads now have the opportunity to have hands-on experience in the process of shoemaking by deconstructing and reconstructing iconic kicks. For the first time, this once in a lifetime experience is available in the UK as of last week. London Sneaker School (LSS) is the collaborative effort of a team with over 15 years of shoemaking experience, founded this year by Jase Cooper and Thomas Rowe (pictured below). Their aim is to develop LSS into a platform which teaches people about the ins and outs of sneaker assembly while bridging the gap between product and consumer. For the most part, the sneakers we wear on our feet are manufactured thousands of miles away on the other side of the world. This is something which the team at LSS are attempting to overcome, believing that “bringing production closer to home opens up new opportunities for creativity and expression by understanding our sneakers on a new level”.
How it works.
London Sneaker School will be offering a range of five-day intensive shoemaking courses, the dates and details of which being posted on their Instagram (@londonsneakerschool). The first course has already been announced and has sold out, due to take place on the 22nd of June 2020. This first set of students will learn how to make a pair of Nike Air Max 1’s using a range of modern and traditional techniques under the guidance of experts at LSS. The classes are kept to a maximum of four students per shoemaker in an effort to maximise your time shared with the professionals. A range of leathers and materials are available to use in order to craft your ideal pair of Air Max 1’s, allowing a substantial level of customisation creativity. At the end of the five-day course, you will have learnt how to use tools and machinery, gained a knowledge of the processes as well as go home with your own 1 of 1 Air Max 1’s!
Whether you’re an experienced sneaker customiser or a novice enthusiast, you will be catered for at LSS. The courses accommodate for everyone, so previous skill or experience is not required whatsoever! If you’re looking to deepen your footwear industry knowledge, start your own brand and want more insight or just want your own handcrafted sneakers, their courses are for you.
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The sneaker making courses offered at LSS are available for the price of £1700, which can be paid upfront or in instalments over three months. When comparing the price to other similar programmes, this course is one of the more economical if you consider what you get out of the five days. One similar programme was introduced by popular sneaker customer and designer, The Shoe Surgeon, in 2018. His courses were based in Los Angeles and cost $3,000 (around £2,460), a substantially higher price than that at LSS. The Nike Bespoke programme is another sneaker customisation outlet costing £1,000 and allows you to design your own Air Max 1 or Air Force 1’s. The programme enables you to get up close and personal with materials, patterns and colour pallets. However, the Bespoke programme does not teach you how to craft your own sneakers, instead, you design them and Nike put them together for you! Furthermore, NikeLab is no longer offering Bespoke appointments in London, meaning it is only available in the US. Today, London Sneaker School have announced their next course dates. Their follow up session will take place on the 10th of August 2020 at their workshop in Hackney, London.
For more information on LSS, their next course dates and how to get involved, follow the link below to their website. I have also linked their Instagram account down below so you can stay up to date.
2019 has had a lot to offer in terms of the sneaker releases, retros and collaborations which we have been treated to by many of the big brands. In this article, I will be sharing my year in regard to which creps I copped to rock, sold and restored, including a few stories along the way. This article is not to be confused with the ‘Best Sneakers of 2019’, which is currently in the works!
I began the year with a bit of a heater, a shoe which actually released towards the end of 2018 but I didn’t get my hands on until February. Originally deemed a Shanghai exclusive the Concepts x Nike ‘Green Lobster’ Dunk SB thew SB fans into a frenzy trying to get secure a pair. The collaboration first released in Shanghai as a surprise drop on the morning of the 22nd of December and then received a slightly wider, but very limited, release on the 28th. I managed to get a pair of the converted Lobsters through an early morning campout and a bit of good fortune! I was actually camping out for a pair of the Concepts ‘Purple Lobster’ Dunk SBs with my brother, Max, at Concept’s Dubai location. We arrived just before 4am with the aim of bringing home two pairs of the Purple Lobsters! After about six hours in line, we were informed that there were hardly any big sizes available, much to the despair of sneakerheads towards the back of the line. Luckily for Max, he got his hands on a pair in his size but took the only UK10. Due to the uproar in the line, the management agreed to give those who missed out on their size first dibs on the stash of ‘Green Lobsters’ which were set to be released. So I put my name down and left empty-handed. About a month later the release date for the green pair was announced but unfortunately, I was back in the U.K. getting on with my studies. Knowing I should have a pair on hold, I sent my dad who was more than willing to wait a little while and bring home the Lobos. He found it hilarious that people in line were photographing each other’s sneakers – a very normal thing in today’s culture. After a bit of negotiation, he got my pair! Unfortunately, the only pair left was half a size big so I actually ended up selling them after failing to swap them for my true size. Out of the rainbow of Concepts Lobster SBs, I have to say the greens are certainly my favourite. Followed closely by the blue and purple colourways.
The next sneaker I picked up this year was a low key model which also released in 2018. If you read my ‘Best Sneakers of 2018’ article I wrote last year, you will know how much I love the Nike Skylon II. Last year I rocked the purple/pink/white Skylon II’s to death and was keen to get another pair. Coming in at the retail price of £84.95, the model is a no brainer if you want a casual run-around shoe or something to wear for the summer months. In March I bought my second pair in the orange/yellow/white colourway, one which I had had my eye on for some time. I managed to scoop them up off eBay for about £30, an absolute steal for a shoe which received a lot of wear in the following months.
In May, we witnessed one of the most hyped sneaker releases of the decade. Especially amongst the modern sneaker enthusiast, and in the current climate, people would put this shoe in their top ten list in recent years. We all know about Travis Scott’s relationship with Nike/Jordan Brand by now and his second Air Jordan instalment had people going nuts! The shoe responsible was Travis’ Jordan 1 which featured a colour palette never before seen on the model as well as an outlandish reserved swoosh. At first, sneakerheads were divided but those not in favour must have been swayed by the hype, as you hear nothing but praise for the collaboration today. This was one of those releases that was always going to be near impossible to cop, but somehow I managed it. This will probably irritate some of you reading but I didn’t really try! Dover Street Market came through with the W, and was the only raffle I entered just on that off chance. It’s funny because I never get wins when it comes to modern-day releases but the only two I have both came from DSM. The other pair was the original Off-White Nike Air Max 90’s from ‘The Ten’. Whilst those stayed in the collection, the Travis Air Jordan 1’s did not. The asking price at the time was pretty high so I sold them for cash plus one of the commemorative T-shirts from the drop. Looking back I wish I had held onto them for longer, as they currently go for double what I sold them for! But I was not in the financial condition to do so… student life and all of that.
Later that month, I picked up probably my most worn pair this year. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I have rocked these non-stop since I grabbed a pair in the Footlocker sales. The pair is the Nike Air Max Plus ‘Grid Yellow’ a re-retro which first released alongside other Grid patterned TN’s in 1999. The pattern on the mesh upper alongside the clear cage make this shoe a showstopper in my opinion. I have also been tempted by the grey/red pair but am yet to pull the trigger. I recently travelled to Australia and my Yellow Grid TN’s were my crep of choice for the trip! The photo below was taken by Max whilst we were in Melbourne.
2019 has given birth to a revival of many models which had been long forgotten. Nike finally retroed the Tailwind IV and the Air Max Plus III. One model which is not in the same category but has seen a resurgence in popularity is the Air Max 90. Now despite all of this I actually didn’t buy any of the new 2019 Air Max 90’s despite trying to cop a few. Instead, I managed to get a pair of Dave White x Nike Air Max 90’s which were part of the ‘Wet Paint’ Pack in 2005. This is a big grail to many 90 collectors, myself included, and I copped this pair for a major steal of £50 back in June! As is usually the case with any Air Max over the age of ten years, the pair is no longer wearable, due to midsole crumbling but fear not, a restoration is currently ongoing. I had an old pair of Air Max 90’s with a very similar coloured air unit which I have used as a donor. The midsoles have been repainted and the OG outsoles have been attached. The only step outstanding is the reglue of the Dave White upper onto the doner soles, which in truth I am petrified of doing! I will get there eventually. A comprehensive tutorial article will be posted towards the beginning of next year outlining each step of the process, as well as the equipment needed and the overall costs. I have never done a sole-swap before so the article will be aimed more towards beginners, like me, who want to give it a go!
In August, I picked up my only non-Nike sneaker of the year, the Hypebeast (HBX) x Asics Gel Kayano 5’s. Honestly, Asics have killed it this year with collaborations from Ronnie Fieg, SneakerFreaker, Awake and numerous other high profile brands. Not to mention a variety of incredible GR colourways on some of their more desirable models. The Hypebeast Gel Kayano 5’s were certainly the standout pair for me and after eyeing them up for a while I finally got my hands on them during summer. The bulky 1990’s aesthetic of the model is perfect for today’s streetwear and high fashion inclination, and the materials used on this particular pair are second to none.
Nike’s Air Max line is my personal favourite thing in creps and over the years I have been collecting each OG colourway of each given model. One of these which I had not yet added to the collection was the OG Air (Max) 180’s in the Ultramarine colourway which originally released in 1991. The Air 180 was the first Air Max to advance past the standard air unit with its air bubble being visible at 180 degrees around the shoe. In October I was blessed by my boy Omar (shoutout to Omarni) with the 2011 retros of the 180’s for my birthday. What a hero! They have got plenty of wear since then, despite the wet conditions at the moment and could certainly do with a cleanup. A few OG colourways still elude me, in particular, the Air Max 360’s… but hey we’ll probably get a retro shortly!
One month later I copped my next pair and it was a bit of an impromptu one. This was the Gortex x Nike Air Force 1’s in the black colourway. I acquired these on a day out in London with my girlfriend where we spent far too much money and each returned home with a new pair of creps. While I copped the Gortex AF1’s, Lydia got a pair of the Nike Air Max 95 SP ‘Multicolours’ (rainbow slices) which released earlier in the year. I have hardly taken off the Air Forces since I got them! The Gortex and rugged leather upper make this shoe a very durable option for the weather to come in the next few months. I was drawn to this shoe mainly by the orange detailing which is present on the tongue and the heel, and the benefit of using them as a Timberland alternative!
My final sneaker pick up of the year was probably my favourite of the year. I secured a pair of the new re-crafted Nike Air Max 90’s in the ‘Hyper Purple’ colourway whilst in Dubai for Christmas. When I wandered into Nike DXB I was shocked to see both the purple and the volt colourways of the new Air Max 90’s sitting on the shelves. The purple pair, in particular, has been on my radar since we saw the first images online a few months back so these were a must cop! Whilst I was also tempted by the Volts in the OG colour blocking I am planning on waiting it out for the green pair dubbed the ‘Chlorophylls’. It’s fair to say I left the best till last. The new recrafted 90’s are honestly so much better in hand than they look in photos. The updated shape is beautifully done and makes the shoe feel much sleeker compared to the bulkier 90’s we’re all used to. The box size has been narrowed to match its original 1990 size and the pair comes complete with a Nike hangtag and arch supports. The box, hangtag and arch supports are all purple to match the theme of the sneaker which I think is a great touch from Nike. I can only imagine that the Volt, Blue and Green pairs, as well as the OG Infrared, will all release with similar packaging in their designated colours. This is such a good release, and the fact I was able to secure a pair two weeks before they drop in the U.K was pretty cool!
So that is my year in sneakers!
What did you pick up this year? Let me know what your personal favourite pickups were of the year by commenting below, or through Instagram @crepcultureblog
2018 has been a monumental year in terms of footwear. We’ve seen a whole load of new technology and models introduced, along with extremely coveted collaborations and huge growth of an already booming sneaker industry. In this article, I want to break down my ten favourite releases of the year, along with some honourable mentions. Bearing in mind I am a Nike guy so the list may be a little biased!
Also, huge shoutout to Dan Freebairn (@kickposters) for letting me use his illustration for the featured image of this article. Follow the link below to view his website and check out some of his other work!
An unlikely contender for most people’s top ten but a certain for mine! The Skylon II originally came out in 1990 and was the first Nike model to feature heel and forefoot air in its foam midsole. This year was the first time the model has been retroed since its original debut and the timing couldn’t have been better (especially with the ‘retro runner’ trend at the moment). The vibrant colours used on the Skylon definitely make it a stand out! The two colourways featured above were my favourite from the year.
9. Adidas Yeezy 700 Wave Runner
I had to include one Adidas shoe on the list and it’s got to be this one. Probably the strongest model (IMO) in the Adidas Yeezy locker, the 700 wave runner. Despite technically dropping last year, in very limited numbers and exclusive to the US, the model saw a global release this year and made waves in the sneaker community. Kanye’s first 700 colourway has sold out instantly on every drop. I would love to get my hands on a pair but unfortunately, the retail price on this pair was pretty high – £250 I believe.
8. Air Jordan 4 ‘Cactus Jack
Travis Scott has had a huge impact on sneaker culture over the past two years or so. This is his third collaborative effort with the Swoosh, this time with Jordan Brand on the Jordan 4. The inspiration behind the colourway came from the jersey colours of Travis’ hometown basketball team, the Houston Oilers. These 4’s released just around the time Travis dropped his latest album ‘Astroworld’ and contributed to the hype of the album further. I was lucky enough to be gifted a pair for my birthday!
7. Nike Air Max Plus OG
The Air Max Plus (or TN’s) saw another retro in its OG colourways towards the end of the year. Even though this model has been re-released in its OG form a handful of times, this release was certainly an anticipated one amongst air max enthusiasts. Nike got this release spot on and the packaging was next level! The box design featured the pattern of the TN’s toe box all over it, and the shoes even came with autonomic arch supports! This addition is something we haven’t seen in Nike packaging since the early 2000s, mainly because they’re a bit outdated but it definitely helped regain that vintage feel. My favourite of the three colourways was the OG ‘Tiger’ pair.
6. Nike Air Max 98 ‘Gundam’
In 2017 we saw a variety of Air Max 97’s released in a range of OG and new colourways for the 20th Anniversary of the model. This got sneakerheads excited for this year as we hoped for the same on the Air Max 98. Nike did not disappoint. The first two colourways we saw this year were the ‘Tour Yellow’ and ‘Gundam’ 98’s, the best of the lot if you ask me. The ‘Gundam’ colourway takes the number six spot on the list. The OG colourway is the perfect combination of blue, red, white and black and is bound to turn some heads. I always love the OG’s and this one is on right at the top of my hit list.
5. Nike Air Max 1 ‘By Day’
I’ve already written about my love for this shoe in a previous article so I’ll keep this one brief! The Air Max 1 ‘By Day’ or the Pompidou Air Max 1’s released in September and was a relatively slept on drop in the grand scheme of things. The sneaker features coloured piping all around the white upper, reminiscent of that of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. I love that Nike has gone back to the routes of the Air Max and delivered a colourway in celebration of them. Click the image above to read my full article on Nike’s history with the Pompidou Centre.
4. Nike React Element 87 ‘Sail’
Nike made some serious headway in 2018 with retros, collaborations and entirely new models. This falls under the category of the latter. Nike React was a technology introduced to us through their running shoe the ‘Epic React’ and was seen as a counter to Adidas’ beloved ‘Boost’ technology. This is the first time the springy sole was utilised on a lifestyle shoe and was, and remains to be, extremely popular. The new model also features a semi-translucent upper. The ‘Sail’ colourway was the first of many to be debuted to the world, and in my opinion, the best of the bunch. The model’s popularity is reflected in its resale price, currently selling for roughly £330 (Stock X).
3. CDG x Nike Air Max 180
The Air Max 180 was seen a whole lot throughout 2018 in a variety of colours and makeups. One of the leading colourways was this 180 by Comme Des Garçons and Nike, a partnership spanning almost a decade. The sneaker was pushed into the eyes of the world at Paris Fashion Week for SS18 and made an immediate mark. Three colourways of the model were released, all with a bold pink foundation, but the black and pink version was my personal favourite.
2. Parra x Nike Air Max 1
Piet Parra and Nike join forces once again on the Air Max 1. This is the third time the pairing has worked on an Air Max 1 together (not including the Albert Heijn Air Max 1’s which were not released to the public), the first time in 2005, the second in 2009. A slightly different approach was taken on the 2018 collaboration; the shoe featuring colours and patterns in the style of Parra’s artwork. A Nike Air Zoom Spiridon was also released beside the Air Max 1, as well as a full tracksuit. The model flew off shelves and was very difficult to get hold of. This shoe (and the surrounding release) was executed perfectly to continue Piet Parra’s legacy with Nike.
1. Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 1/97
I really did not want to put this in first spot due to the number of these I have seen this year… and the fact I wasn’t able to grab a pair… but how could I not. The whole story behind these is enough to sell the shoe alone. The fact that Sean Wotherspoon, a vintage collector, curator and co-owner of Round Two was able to take part and win the Nike ‘Vote Forward’ Campaign is something you dream about. The drive behind his Air Max 1/97 hybrid got everyone talking and as a result was probably the most hyped release of the year. This has taken the number one spot on my list because of Sean’s backstory and the process of building the shoe surrounding the Air Max day campaign. The material and colour combination is entirely unique to a Nike model and the hybrid wave is back in full effect as a result. I have written a full-length article on this sneaker and its importance in today’s crep culture. To read it, click on the photo above.
So yeah Sean’s 1/97’s rank supreme in my eyes.
It was incredibly hard to narrow the list down to just ten pairs so it wouldn’t be right to do ‘the Best Sneakers of 2018’ without a few other mentions, worthy of the top few spots. So in no particular order:
Nike Tailwind 87:
Originally released in time for the Honolulu Marathon in 1986, the Tailwind changed the course of Nike footwear forever. The shoe was the first ever to feature the brands famous ‘Air’ cushioning in its sole. The model officially hit retailers the following year in 1979 and sold out straight away! In 2018 we saw a retro of the iconic model, in a colourway as close as possible to that released to the public in 1979. The shoes also came with a pair of white and blue Nike socks incorporating the vintage logo, a nice touch!
Skepta x Nike Air Max Deluxe
Finally, this year we saw retros of the Air Max Deluxe, a model not seen since 1999. The silhouette had a big year releasing in a variety of OG colourways as well as this collaboration with U.K. rap artist, Skepta. This was Skepta’s third collaboration with Nike and went hand in hand with his tour, ‘No Sleep on Tour’.
Supreme x Nike Zoom Streak Spectrum Plus
Supreme and Nike had probably one of their weakest years in terms of collaborative footwear. Out of a bad bunch, however, came these gems. The Streak Spectrum Plus’ debuted in 2003 and were designed for Japanese runners by Steven Smith. The most eye-catching feature is, of course, the flames, which run from the toe backwards. This design was inspired by the hot rod culture in the U.S. Before this collaboration, the model was pretty much forgotten, so it’s always good to see a banger like this make a comeback.
Diamond x Nike SB Dunk
Nicky Diamond and Nike SB have an incredibly important history in the formation of the crep culture we see today. In 2005, the original Diamond Supply Dunk shook the world. It was like no skate shoe anyone had seen before, featuring the famous ‘Tiffany’ (Diamond) colour and black crocodile leather on the upper. Towards the end of 2018, we began seeing leaks of another Diamond Dunk low and we got three of them! The photos above depict my favourite of the colourways, the third being an all over yellow dunk, releasing in quantities of around 250 pairs. The dunks feature the platinum silver swoosh used on the original pair, this time removable, revealing tiffany hints. Just like the original, these are extremely sought after. Dunks are back!
Air Jordan 11 ‘Concord’
Around Christmas time every year, Jordan brand releases a Jordan 11 which used to cause havoc, with just about everyone trying to get their hands on whichever 11 was being brought out. In recent years the hype surrounding this seasonal release has not been what it once was. If there was a Jordan 11 which was going to change this, it’s this one. The Concord has been a classic since 1995 and certainly deserves a place on this list.
Air Jordan 1 x Union Los Angeles
The Jordan 1 had a huge year in 2018, with numerous colourways dropping and mass public appeal. These two pairs of Union Jordan 1’s were the best of the bunch in my opinion. Nowadays everyone is trying to get their hands on the original 1985 Jordan 1’s and this collaboration brought the OG’s to life in the present day. They are made to look old, with slight a discolouring to the midsole, laces and tongue. The yellow detailing around the panels certainly makes them a stand out amongst other Jordan 1’s and the mismatched upper is something we haven’t seen before on the model. I couldn’t make up my mind about which pair I preferred so they are both included!
Dragon Ball Z x Adidas Yung-1 ‘Frieza’
The Adidas Yung-1 has been one of Adidas’ most popular models this year and one of my personal favourites. This collaboration with Dragon Ball Z featured two models; the Yung-1 and the ZX-500, the first being the stronger of the two. The bold purple and pink detailing certainly make this sneaker stand out from the crowd. As well as this, the packaging was executed superbly, which always makes a big difference!
Daniel Arsham x Adidas 4D Futurecraft
Adidas’ 4D Future craft has got to be the most revolutionary innovations in footwear we have seen for quite some time. The technology is essentially, a 3D printed midsole on a running shoe. When we first heard of this project, people had a lot of questions. Will it even hold up? Is it comfortable? The answers are yes and yes. I have never tried on or even held a pair of these (due to their rarity and very high retail price), but have only heard good things. The reason these are included in this list is mainly due to the sheer technological advancements that have been made by Adidas and the possibilities this may lead towards in the future.
What do you think of my Top 10?
Let me know in the comments which you would or wouldn’t include! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more articles coming soon.
In 1987, Nike debuted one of the most iconic sneaker silhouettes of all time, the Air Max 1. The model was designed by Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, a man responsible for some of the greatest and most popular Nike shoes; the Air Max 90, the Air Jordan 3 and Jordan 4, just to name a few. The release of the Air Max 1 saw a revolution in athletic footwear, introducing never before seen technology. Tinker’s Air Max 1 is a shoe which is now recognised in every corner of the globe but its origins began in Paris, at the Centre George Pompidou.
The Pompidou centre opened its doors in 1977. At the time it was an extremely controversial building as it is in complete contrast to the surrounding area which is built up of typical french houses and restaurants. The Pompidou centre towers over the surrounding landscape and consists of steel and glass foundations. When stood outside of the structure everything is visible, mainly the escalators and piping as well as the different levels of the museum exhibits inside. It is entirely transparent, with its piping painted in an array of primary colours on the outside of the building. It is a building like no other! When I visited Paris, going to the Pompidou centre was top of my priority list.
Much like the Air Max 1, the Pompidou centre changed architectural design and changed the way people looked at buildings. Before becoming a shoe designer, Tinker was an architect and worked with Nike on building projects for years before moving to shoes. After visiting Paris and the Pompidou, Tinker began work on his new design. Years later in an interview, he claimed that seeing this building “turned his architectural senses upside down”.
Nike ‘Air’ had been around since 1978 at this point however it had never been utilised in the way it was on the Air Max 1. The airbag had previously been encased in polyurethane, embedded within the sole of a performance running shoe. The new airbag of the Air Max 1 was widened for stability, and the midsole was cut away, revealing the air unit. This was the first time the air unit was actually visible. This inspiration behind this design was, of course, the ‘inside-out’ aesthetic which the Pompidou Centre is so widely known for. Tinker famously said; “I am fully convinced that if I had not seen the building, I might not have suggested that we actually expose this airbag and make it visible”. He wanted to let people see inside the shoe, and actually through it!
Just like the Pompidou Centre, the original Air Max 1 was very controversial. Despite its revolutionary outcome, people did not understand it at first, and it received a lot of backlash. As well as the visible air unit being out of the ordinary, the original colour scheme was unheard of. The shoe featured a bright red mudguard and swoosh, a striking colourway entirely different from any running shoe at the time. This was another influence of the Pompidou Centre in Paris. The piping and mechanics of the building are painted in bright colours, making it visible from almost anywhere! Tinker wanted to recreate this on the Nike Air Max 1 and did just that. This shoe stood out!
Since 1987 the shoe has been held in the highest regard by sneakerheads everywhere and has been the forefather of a whole host of Air Max models. It has undergone many collaborative makeups with brands such as Atmos and Patta (most famously) as well as thousands of different colourways. The OG red colourway has been retroed a handful of times since its original release, most recently in 2017 for the shoes 30th Anniversary. It’s crazy that 30 years later the shoe’s rerelease can sell out almost instantly! The Air Max one has certainly stood the test of time as it is still one of Nike’s most popular models today.
The reason I wanted to write this article was due to a pack consisting of two Air Max 1’s, which came out this year. The pack was called the ‘By Day/By Night’ pack and was inspired by Nike’s heritage with the Pompidou Centre. Pictured below, the two colourways are reminiscent of the Pompidou during the day, and at night.
The ‘By Day’ pair (on the left) is the more eye-catching of the two. The shoe features coloured piping detail all around it, which of course is inspired by the Pompidou’s colourful makeup. My favourite detail about this pair is the colour used on the swoosh and the airbag. The red air unit symbolises that used on the original 1987 red Air Max 1 and the blue swoosh recognises the second OG colourway of the model – with the same colour blocking, just in blue. This pack is certainly paying homage to the inspiration behind the shoe and the history of the Air Max lineage. I am a sucker for all that so this was a must cop for me. In hand, they’re even better!