The Nike TN is Returning

April 14, 2023 by Joey Birch

The Nike TN is Returning

Call them Air Max Plus, call them TNs. The fact is, they’re coming back.

Earlier this year, it was rumoured that the Nike Air Max Plus, lovingly known as the TN around the world after the Tuned Air technology that appears within the midsole, will be returning in its original form in Spring 2024 following its previous OG retro in 2018 as part of the sneakers 20th anniversary.

Originally designed by Sean McDowell, the Nike Air Max Plus arrived during what can be argued as the golden age of Air Max following on from the Air Max 96 and 97 and releasing during the same year as the Air Max 98 & 98 TL, the tail end of the list of key releases that remain in the rafters as some of the greatest Air Max silhouettes of all time.

The original ‘Hyper Blue’ colourway was inspired by the Floridian coastline with subtle nods to the gradient sunsets on the upper and a whale fin-shaped shank plate running along the midfoot, curling up the medial and lateral sides, encased by the black rubber pattern along the upper inspired by the shape of palm tree leaves.

The key detail of the Air Max Plus was the aforementioned Tuned Air technology which debuted in the timeless model, highlighted by Pebax (a footwear technology developer which has most recently worked on the likes of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next %) built Tuned hemispheres found curling around the heel, providing low-pressure cushioning, allowing for natural foot-landing while providing the stability of the Air Max.

Technology featured in the Air Max Plus is now taken for granted, being utilised in several silhouettes since despite being a point of contention for Nike before the introduction of McDowell onto the project. Created as a Footlocker exclusive release under the name ‘Sky Air’, McDowell was brought on in 1997 after the New York-based footwear giant had rejected over 15 design proposals from the Swoosh for what would eventually become the Air Max Plus.

While the AM97 debuted the full-length Air running underfoot, the TN took a different approach using the Air Unit from the Air Max 96. Nevertheless, it has remained one of the most beloved sneakers of all time, going on to become an iconic staple in Nike’s history and becoming particularly popular in Australia.

Since its debut, the Air Max Plus has been a canvas for a variety of intriguing projects, most notably a whole host of colourways stemming from the original trio of ‘Hyper Blue’, ‘Tiger’ and ‘Voltage Purple’ each of which featured a sunset-inspired aesthetic.

As the Air Max Plus’ lifecycle was forever extended after it was adopted by a myriad of subcultures thanks to its provocative silhouette and eye-catching colourways with the Air Max model being lovingly known as the TN, it can be argued that the silhouette never officially left as such - peaking and troughing in popularity with notable releases including the Supreme collaboration in 2020 which saw the iconic streetwear brands name spelt out within the upper’s pattern as well as last years ‘Tiffany’ inspired colourway, echoing that of the 2005 Nike SB Dunk ensuring a certain baseline of popularity.

Nevertheless, with reports of the original Air Max ‘Hyper Blue’ colourway returning in 2024, in conjunction with the recent influx of TN colourways including a gold/pink gradient pair in addition to a classic blue and white rendition, it appears that Nike is looking to reinvigorate the model with 2023 marking 25 years since its original release.

Promising to honour its ‘98 predecessor, the upcoming release is everything that fans of the original have been looking for since its last return to glory 5 years ago during its 20th anniversary with the inclusion of an elasticated lacing system and a padded tongue. Classic TN details highlight the sneaker with the same retro flare as it did in 1998, offering a nostalgic feeling as with recent Nike releases which see the brand go back through their deep catalogue.

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