Air Max Day 2019 by Limited Edt: Sneakerheads Air Their Views

Sneakerheads Air Their Views

For Air Max Day, we speak to Singapore’s culture makers about why they love the Air Max.

By Straatosphere Brand Studio for Limited Edt and Nike Singapore

 

Birth of The Air Max

The Air Max One was introduced to the world on March 26, 1987. Created by the godfather of sneakers, Tinker Hatfield, the shoe was considered a masterpiece in design and manufacturing.

Inspired by the Centre Georges Pompidou, a library in Paris with an inside-out aesthetic, the Air Max came with a visible airbag. If a shoe manufacturer tells you there’s buoyancy in their shoe, you’d take it as hot air. But air you can actually see? Well, seeing is believing.

Today, the Air Max continues to be one of Nike’s most important franchises and 32 years on, many of its shoe models are based on and built off Air Max technology. In celebration of Air Max Day, we spoke to Singapore’s culture makers about what makes the Air Max a great shoe. Read on to find out what they have to say and how you can win a pair of the Air Max 720.

Mr SabotageOf SBTG

Wears the Nike Air Max 720 from the Throwback Future Pack S$259 at Limited Edt Vault @ 313

What were the first pair of Air Max you came in contact with? What do you remember about it?
The Air Max 95, through a Japanese magazine called Boon. Back then, there was this obsession with Japanese style. I was very attracted to that movement, there was no internet or any way to obtain the 95s. The only way was to get them from someone who owned them and that’s what I did. I got someone to sell me the shoes off their feet in school. He sold it to me at S$150 – this was at retail or even below, but in Japan they were selling brand new ones for thousands of dollars. This was in 1996 or 1997.

What do you like about the Air Max shoe?
When it was introduced, it was extremely different. The visible Air bag was the first of its kind. It stood out from all the running sneakers in the industry. It was revolutionary during that time, so by that, I always have that memory that the Air Max was the future.

From a customization point of view, what makes the AM a good shoe to work with?
The Air Max 1 and Air Max 90 are my favorites to customize because of the shoe panels. The 1 is a very retro looking shoe, which suits my aesthetic. The 90 is more tech – it’s like 80s going into the 90s, trying to look futuristic – I really like that aesthetic.

Which is your favorite custom Air Max that you guys have worked on?
I always say that my latest custom is an improvement from my last. The latest Air Max custom that I worked on is called the Air Max Stampede, made in collaboration with Secondnature. We removed the Swoosh and stitched velcro onto the tongue so that we could put different patches on.

Which is your favorite Air Max spinoff shoe?
I’m a very old-school silhouette kinda guy, but when I saw the Vapormax Moc, I thought it was a perfect canvas for me to add some traditional elements, so I added Native American beading. The shoe is super tech, and I introduced super traditional beadwork to it. I made it for Sue first, but we ended up getting mad requests for it.

Mrs SabotageOf SBTG

Wears the Nike Air Max Dia SE from the Throwback Future Pack S$179 at Limited Edt Queensway, Chamber @ MBS, Vault @ 313 and Hall of Fame @ Vivo

What were the first pair of Air Max you came in contact with? What do you remember about it?
The Air Max 95. I wanted the pink or mint ones, but it was beyond my budget as a student.

What do you like about the Air Max shoe?
It’s a classic and classics never go out of style.

From a customization point of view, what makes the Air Max a good shoe to work with?
We have customized so many Air Maxes over the years. The shoe has very clear and simple panels, which makes it great to paint on. It’s not a complicated silhouette, so it’s almost like a blank canvas. Because it’s timeless, there’s always a demand for it. And because of how simple it is, our designs can go so many different ways. Shoes that are complicated, you always have to work within parameters and that can be restrictive. The Air Max gives us the freedom to be creative.

Which is your favorite Air Max custom work to date?
Mark recently made me some custom Air Max Plus TN SE tartan shoes. The inspiration behind that was that he wanted to buy them for himself, but it was a women’s shoe, so he bought them for me. We wanted to make them more extra, so we put fit locks and chains on it. It’s classic in that it comes in a classic print, but with a super-modern twist with the chains and locks.

Haikal Bakar Co-founder Straatosphere

Wears the Nike Vapormax 2019 from the Throwback Future Pack S$269 at Limited Edt Queensway, Vault @ JEM, Vault @ 313 and Chamber @ MBS

Share your memory of the first pair of Air Max you came in contact with
The first ever Air Max that I came in contact with, I was probably 9 years old. I was on a family trip in London and the shoes that I was wearing at that time – can’t remember what they were – gave way during the trip. My mum passed me her sneakers, which I wore for the rest of the trip. They were some generic navy blue Air Max 1s. Of course at that time I didn’t know what the hell those were. Pretty sure they were women’s cut too!

What do you like about the Air Max shoe?
I love the Nike Air Max because it’s timeless. Admittedly, I wouldn’t wear the Air Max everyday, but it’s one of those sneaker models that I will always want to have in my collection to wear. I can’t imagine the Nike Air Max ever going out of style.

Which is your favorite Air Max spin-off shoe and why?
Tough question. The AM1 has a rich history, but I would say my favorite is the Vapormax. It was launched during a time when it was quite obvious that the lifestyle consumers were switching to their rival brand – you know which one – because of the aggressive marketing they were doing. And of course they had the biggest hip-hop star, Kanye, on their roster too. I think Nike had a couple of lukewarm years, particularly for Air Max Day releases prior to 2017, then, boom, Nike launched the Vapormax. The design of the shoe was so innovative and so ahead of its time. It looked so different from what was present in the market. It piqued my interest so much when I first saw it. I had so many questions: is it going to be comfortable? How are the Air units going to support prolonged wear/running with no other midsole elements? I really think that the Vapormax made people pay attention to the brand again.

In your work with sneakers, how has the Air Max stood out from the rest?
My interaction with shoes are pretty much an everyday occurrence. Whether it’s working with a sneaker brand or just out of personal interest. I’ve become quite immune to new sneakers and stuff like that. However, what Nike has done since 2014, to dedicate a single day to celebrating their most iconic sneaker model is quite impressive. I don’t think any other sneaker brand has done the same, nor would they be able to sustain this kind of buzz and interest year on year. Whenever March comes around, I’m always excited to see what Nike will be launching (2017: Vapormax), who they will be working with (2018 Vote Forward: Sean Weatherspoon)… Whether I’m involved in anything for Air Max Day or not, I’ve always made sure to put on a pair of Air Maxes whenever March 26 comes around.

Danial Mok Sneaker collector and Nike fan

Wears the Nike Air Max 270 from the Throwback Future Pack S$229 at Limited Edt Queensway, Chamber @ MBS, Vault @ 313 and Hall of Fame @ Vivo

What were the first pair of Air Max you came in contact with? Can you share some memories you have of that Air Max?
It was the Air Max 1 1998 Leather SC in the Royal OG colorway. My dad got them for me on my 16th birthday. I fell in love instantly with the colorway and the look of the shoes.

What do you like about the Air Max shoe?
I like how Air Maxes have a visible Air unit, it was one of a kind back then when they released the shoes. Air Maxes are also comfortable to wear.

Which is your favorite Air Max spin-off shoe?
I like the new Air Max 270 and also the earlier version of the Vapormax. The Flyknit upper of the Vapormax is really appealing and the Air unit of the Air Max 270 is unique.

In your mind, what makes the Air Max stand out from the other shoes?
Comfort level and also exciting colorways and designs.

How many pairs of Nike sneakers do you own?
I have about 180 to 200 pairs of Nike sneakers.

Of all the sneaker brands, why do you have the most affinity with Nike?
Innovation. I like how Nike constantly invents new technology to be incorporated into their shoes. They take their classic models and incorporate new technology like the Flyknit technology into it.

You also buy your kid, Ilhan, sneakers (he has 35 pairs), what are some of the best Air Max shoes he owns?
By far I think the best one that I bought for my son was the Off White Air Max 90. Had to get both the Black Cone and Desert Ore colorways for him.

Jonathan Fong Co-founder Sole Superior and Street Superior

Wears the Nike Vapormax 2019 from the Throwback Future Pack S$269 at Limited Edt Queensway, Vault @ JEM, Vault @ 313 and Chamber @ MBS

Can you share a memory of the first Air Max you ever owned?
I was 16 when the OG Neon Air Max 95 dropped, but it was only a year later – when I started working part-time at Far East Plaza – that I became super enamored with that model and colorway after it surfaced in various Japanese print magazines stocked at my workplace. Flipping through the pages of magazines like Boon and Non-no allowed me to be transported to Tokyo – planet of cool, where these super dope street kids were mad about the 95 and other trainers and they dressed mad fresh. I was wowed from the go and didn’t understand why these rad colorways and models weren’t available in Singapore. I never owned a pair of sneakers above S$100 till I hit my mid-twenties, so the Air Maxes were out of my league as a teen. I finally got to fill the nostalgia gap in the late 2000s, copping the Air Max 90s Infrareds when they were retro-ed – wasn’t a fan of the ostrich leather bumps, to be honest – and scoring the neon AM 95s at the Nike outlet store later on.

What do you like about the Air Max shoe?
The love – and hate – stem from the Air bubble. That clear pocket of Air is what makes the Air Max gorgeous. Of course, the bubble isn’t so gorgeous when it crumbles or cracks, but that also just serves to remind the consumer to treasure and cherish the beauty while there’s time. As the eternal adage goes: rock, don’t stock.

Which is your favourite Air Max spin-off shoe and why?
I don’t know if it counts but I’m going to say the Nike Air Nomo Max 2, which was a rare pair of Nikes I owned when I was 18. I bought them for S$89, at more than half off. I don’t watch baseball but I knew of Hideo Nomo and it was rad that Nike had an Asian endorsed athlete sneaker. More importantly that sneaker just looked super dope to me with that huge Air bubble at the back and two mini bubbles at the front. I can still remember the swagger in my step walking to Poly rocking those.

In your opinion, what has been the most interesting milestone in the history and evolution of the Air Max?
I find it very interesting how the Air Max 97 got super huge in the last two to three years, especially with the teen set (who probably weren’t born when the shoe first released) and with both boys and girls. I know fashion is always about coming back in cycles, but I was super intrigued how this one caught on, and across so many style tribes. I also think it’s interesting to see how Nike continues to focus on design, tech, and R&D for the Air Max, while balancing sensibilities with what ultimately sells and moves units. Current trends suggest that working with fashion designers like Vigil Abloh (anyone notice that “The Ten” seems to have now gone to “The Hundreds”?) and Jerry Lorenzo churns out the hits, so I think they’ve got an interesting balance to maintain in coming up with new designs, reworking old designs or simply retro-ing the greatest hits.

Any particular Sole Superior-related Air Max story to share?
I’ve seen so many Air Max grails at our event but I still get super excited. Patta x Parras, Clot Kiss of Deaths, Kaws Currents, Viotechs; you name it, I’ve seen it. Sometimes I get nervy for guys that bust out some older super rare heat, but at the same time I feel super proud that they bothered to rock them to Sole Superior. It’s probably one of the best compliments to our event, when folks bust out their grails.

Dexter Tan Co-founder Sole Superior and Street Superior

Wears the Nike Air Max 270 from the Throwback Future Pack S$229 at Limited Edt Queensway, Chamber @ MBS, Vault @ 313 and Hall of Fame @ Vivo

What were the first pair of Air Max shoes that caught your eye?
The first Air Max that ever caught my eye were the Atmos Animal Air Max 1. I remember seeing it on the feet of one of the customers at the shop I worked at and I literally felt an intense urge to own it. Sadly it has always been an elusive pair that I have yet to own.

What do you like about the Air Max shoe?
I love it when shoes showcase their technology and no shoe does it better than the Air Max with its huge, visible Air bubble.

Which is your favorite Air Max spin-off shoe?
My favourite model is the Air Max 180 because it was co-designed by Tinker Hatfield and Bruce Kilgore, who designed my favorite silhouette – the Air Force 1. The shape and design was so sleek and Michael Jordan wore it during the 92 Olympics.

What has been the most interesting milestone in the history and evolution of the Air Max?
I think it was when the Air Max became a mainstay in hip-hop. Everyone from Eminem to Kanye has worn the Air Max, which made the shoe a de facto must-have in sneaker collecting. I mean most of my generation heard of the Air Max 95 after The Game name-dropped it in his hit single, “Hate It Or Love It”.

Any Sole Superior-related Air Max story to share?
My favorite memory would be being able to hold really rare Air Maxes in my hands like the Kid Robot friends and family Air Max 1 during our collaborative event with Sneaker Pimps last year. I had only seen them in magazines before that and never imagined being able to see them in real life, let alone hold them.

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