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The third and final installment in our Air Reinvented series pays homage to one of the most dramatic entries to the Nike Air Max dynasty to date, the revolutionary Air Max 95. With an emphasis on maximising cushioning for the wearer, a new level of comfort and a brand new design was achieved. The result was unlike anything seen before and the 95’s initial intrigue and conventional defiance has remained unmatched to this day. Testament to its continued success is the range of rereleases Nike has recently dropped which feature the 95, and other models from the Air Max family from the last 25 years, in both their OG versions and new Engineered Mesh makeovers.

Words by Benjamin Menzies

A young designer by the name of Sergio Lozano dreamed up the Air Max 95 during an era when tradition took a backseat to experimentation, particularly where the pursuits of music, fashion and design were concerned. Whilst the line between creativity and outright ignorance was sometimes blurred by the more forgetful fashion results of the mid ‘90s, Sergio’s chapter in the Air Max story remains a shining example of what can occur when conceptual freedom is granted to the right person at the right time.

Instead of building upon previous models, Sergio imagined a completely fresh silhouette that took cues from the architecture of the human body. The black dipped sole represented the spine, the graduating panels of suede took inspiration from layers of muscle fibres and the lace loops and mesh upper mimicked the surrounding ribs and exterior skin responsible for housing our vitals (a possible metaphor suggesting our feet were the vitals in the equation).

In a move that was completely unrelated to the human body but just as unique in concept, Nike’s paramount swoosh trademark was shrunk, rotated and relocated to the back of the shoe, much to the relative confusion (and gradual adoration) of Nike’s most devout purists. The introductory colourway further removed the 95 from its predecessors by avoiding predominantly red and white hues and swapping them for tonal greys and a contrasting neon green. Funnily enough, after the 95’s initial release, must-have tech products and covetable gadgets began to be released in left-of-centre colourways, often featuring neon green and grey accents, with an emphasis on transparency in their design. Coincidence? Perhaps… but one thing is for sure, the iconic green and grey colourway of the 95 was very much the colour-combo which spoke of the future.

Technically speaking, the Air Max 95 was as progressive aesthetically as it was performance wise. Seven units of varying air pressure ran from heel to toe, further pushing the boundaries of just how much air could be jammed into a running shoe and it was also the first shoe of its kind to feature a completely layered construction, a process that subsequently birthed the infamous tonal grey waves that make up the 95’s bulletproof upper.

Given the avant-garde stylings of the Air Max 95, its crossover appeal was secured from the moment it hit shelves. The track and field fiends were drawn to its superior support, while Asian sneakerheads immediately understood the shoe and fell in love with its unique shape and the 3M sparkles that adorned its upper. This sentiment trickled down to the Western fashion consumer, as street style trends often do, and before you knew it the shoe was loved the world over.

The next gen of the Air Max 95 sees the application of Nike’s Engineered Mesh technology. The 95 EM retains its neck-breaking appeal in a lighter format, giving clout to its creed of ‘the more air the better’. “We have made subtle changes over the years as we discover new innovations and materials that improve on the fit and feel for the wearer,” explains Nate Jobe, Design Director for Nike Sportswear Footwear. “We are dedicated to keeping the integrity of the original design, but open to using innovation to make them better. It’s what Nike does best”.

While the Air Max celebrates 25 years in the game this year, Nike’s dedication to innovation ensures the Air Max story is far from over. Reinvention is in the DNA of each shoe, as that’s what the Air Max was first built upon. So when asked what single word defines the Nike Air Max shoe, it’s not surprising Jobe answers: “Revolutionary”. Agreed.

Slides 1-4: Nike Air Max 95 OG
RRP $220. Available from Nike Stores, Hype DC, Footlocker, Unison, Espionage, Sure Store, Submerge, Laced.

Slides 5-8: Nike Air Max 95 EM
RRP $220. Available from Hype DC, Mi-Life, Sure Store, Notorious & Co, Laced, Espionage.

Shoot Credits:
Art Direction – ACCLAIM Magazine
Photography – Michelle Tran
Styling – Jade Leung @ Vivien’s Creative
Makeup – Caroline Massola
Model – Jackson @ London MGT

This was the last feature in our ‘Air Reinvented’ series. Follow the link for a look at some of the other iconic Air Max releases through the years and an introduction to the new releases.