Top 10 Air Max 1s Of All Time

July 24, 2022 by Joey Birch

Top 10 Air Max 1s Of All Time

2022 marks 35 years of the Air Max 1, the silhouette that kickstarted the now adored Air Max lineage, a project that upon its inception went against the grain giving consumers their first look at the technology that goes into their sneakers. 

While modern Air Max silhouettes don’t seem to garner the same impact as their predecessors, special projects utilising the original pair remain in the hearts of many as some of the greatest sneakers to ever release. 

Below is a selection of our top 10 Air Max 1 colourways and collabs of all time:

OG Red / Blue, 1987 

The sneaker that started it all, the Air Max 1 kickstarted a revolution in sneakers that we still feel on a global scale. Inspired by the deconstructed Centre Pompidou in Paris, Tinker Hatfield took the two primary colours and applied them to the two first two pairs of the iconic silhouette.

At the time of the release, the idea of visible air was unheard of and as such, was heavily pushed back upon by various Nike officials. While Air technology already existed within Nike sneakers such as the Tailwind released in 1978, allowing consumers to see what went into the sneakers they wore was entirely new. Hatfield goes as far to say that had he not gone to visit the Parisian building, he may never have come up with the design for the ‘87 model.

Patta Purple Denim, 2009

Patta’s second collaboration with Nike celebrating 5 years of their store opening, the Purple Denim continued to bend conventions of what a sneaker could and should include. Released during the same year as the widely beloved Chlorophyll and Denim colourways, the Purple Denim is a variant that is designed to get better with age. 

At the time of the release, Patta were yet to work on an Air Max 1 after releasing their take on the Air Max 90 titled the ‘Homegrown’ celebrating 2 years of the streetwear boutique's central Amsterdam location back in 2006.


atmos Elephant, 2007

Taking the most beloved details from the Air Jordan 3 and putting it onto a similarly groundbreaking silhouette was genius from Tokyo-based sneaker boutique atmos and has since become one of the most recognisable colourways of all time. 

The colourway was held in such high regard that it went on to win Nike's 2016 'Vote Back' campaign as part of their Air Max Day celebrations in which they brought back the elephant leather colourway.

London, 2020

As a UK resident, it’s hard to turn down a city series sneaker, especially if you’re London based. Inspired by the city streets, the London Air Max 1 features an entirely grey upper in various tones reminiscent of the Nike Dunk Low from 2004 with the inclusion of the River Thames stitched onto the heel. 

Released as part of the 2020 city pack along with the ‘Amsterdam’ colourway, the duo centred the collaboration around the two cities that the AM1 had the biggest influence on in a new, intricate way, by referencing the heart of the city on the sneaker from the grey brutalist architecture in London to the red bricks of the Danish streets.

atmos Viotech, 2003

A year after the release of the atmos ‘Safari’ Air Max 1 from 2002, the Tokyo-based sneaker boutique returned with a sneaker that is widely believed to be one of the best colourways of all time. 

It was the gold stitching and bold purple Swoosh that caught the attention of consumers when the Viotech was launched. In addition, there was a special box version of the popular colourway designed by Dez Einswell. With only 100 pairs made worldwide with numbered boxes, the sneaker was pushed to grail status.

Crepe Hemp, 2004

The Crepe Hemp Air Max 1 stands apart from the usual offerings from Nike thanks to its subversive use of materials. Utilising a range of hemp panelling on the upper in conjunction with a light blue Air Unit and Swoosh on the medial and lateral sides - the sneaker almost provides a Travis Scott aesthetic before Scott was on the scene.

Removing the synonymous AM1 outsole, the Crepe Hemp featured a rugged brown outsole made of a single piece of Crepe, thus giving the sneaker its name. 

While the colourway isn’t a huge collaboration, it has been instilled as a favourite for collectors. With rumours suggesting we’ll see a retro of the Crepe Hemp later this year to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the AM1, time will tell whether the colourway will be a welcome return.

Patta ‘Monarch’, 2021

By 2021, Patta’s relationship with Nike had been baked into the culture. After over a decade since the Danish store released its take on the Air Max 1, they finally gave the new generation of sneakerheads a chance to get their hands on a Patta collab.

The project titled ‘The Wave’ took the mudguard and outsole of the AM1 and created a waved motion adding a new perspective to the classic silhouette in the way that Patta does best. 

The release is classed as one of the greatest colourways of all time thanks to the heritage that the two brands share as well as the importance the shoe will have in years to come.

DJ Clark Kent 112 Pack, 2008

DJ Clark Kent is a name that any sneaker collector or enthusiast should know. His first foray, officially at least, with Nike named the 112 pack brought a unique aesthetic with a blend of elephant print, grey and black uppers finished off with a slue of neon green detailing. 

Officially, the pack featured three separate silhouettes which consisted of the Air Force 1, Air Max 1 and Air Trainer 1. However, there are rumoured to be far more including Lebron signature models, the Trainer SC amongst others. 

It’s the vibrant details and cosigns from one of the biggest figures in sneaker culture that give these the place they hold on this list. 

Kidrobot, 2005

An Air Max 1 that, at the time of release, was in huge demand. The Kidrobot collaboration saw the Swoosh partner with collectable toy company Kidrobot. Featuring a black, gold and pink aesthetic, the collaboration remains at the top of many collectors' lists after only 240 pairs were released to the public exclusively at Barney’s New York. 

The colourway was designed to match the exterior of Kidrobot’s 1986 Maserati Quattroporte III Royale and featured the instantly recognizable Kidrobot logo in gold on the heel in addition to being shipped in a custom shoebox with a special hangtag and insoles. 

As well as the black pair, an even more limited hot pink pair were released with an estimated 72 pairs made of the Hyperstrike colourway.

Sean Wotherspoon 1/97, 2018

Technically an Air Max 97, the Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 1/97 combines two of Nike’s classic silhouettes. Created as part of Nike’s ‘Vote Forward’ competition in which 12 separate creatives had their chance to pitch and, if they won, create their take on Air Max. Inspired by ‘80’s hats, the founder of vintage streetwear store Round Two created the entire upper out of various colours of corduroy.

In addition to the 97 upper, Wotherspoon added the midsole from the Air Max 1 along with the Air Unit from the Infrared AM90 for an additional pop of colour. The sneaker has since become a popular grail for many collectors with an instantly recognisable colourway. With the addition of the old-school corduroy upper, the sneaker gets better over time - just like the vintage garments Wotherspoon is so fond of.