The Enduring Appeal of Air Max

Three Paris-based creatives show us how they style Nike’s iconic sneaker franchise.

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Building on the momentum of the Air Jordan 1 and Dunks debuted two years earlier, the 1987 launch of the Air Max 1 further established the ’80s as a golden era for Nike. Designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield—now Nike’s Vice President for Design and Special Projects—the iconic style introduced the world to a groundbreaking exposed cushioning system. Its innovation was born out of a trip to Paris, where Hatfield, previously trained as an architect, found inspiration in the airy elements of the Centre Pompidou. The Air Max’s visible Air-sole unit took direct inspiration from the inside-out exterior of the controversial building and its postmodern design. "I don’t know if I was thinking, ‘Well now I’m going to design a shoe based off of this,’ I just remember being super influenced by it and having my architectural senses turned upside down,” Hatfield stated in the 2006 documentary series Respect the Architects.

2022 marks 35 years since Nike pulled back the curtain on its revolutionary technology—and the most advanced running shoe of its time. In celebration of this year’s Air Max Day, we asked Paris-based creatives Julien Boudet, Thanh Shei and María Bernad to showcase how they style their favorite Air Maxes.

Meet them below as they walk us through their personal takes on one of the world’s most enduring sneaker franchises.