Sneaker lovers today are treated to a glut of wild, imaginative and seemingly endless collaborative interpretations of various sneaker models. The abundance of collaborations nowadays clearly indicates that companies outside of Nike have figured out how to monetize these collector-oriented projects. In fact, they have become so commonplace that some companies use them as the centerpiece of their marketing strategies. One model that has notably tapered off in its use however is the Air Max 1, as virtually all AM1 releases now come from within Nike. This was not always the case however. The Nike Air Max 1 collaborations from 2001 onward helped (they were a large part but not the sole driving force by any stretch of the imagination) to set the stage for the collaboration scene of today. As part of our Air Max Day 3.26 celebration we present to you 10 iconic Air Max 1 collaborations that pushed the boundaries not only of the Swoosh, but also of sneaker culture.
Produced by: Dan Hwang
Nike Air Max 1B x Atmos – Safari (2003)
Color: Flax/Tennessee Orange-Chestnut-Light Graphite
Atmos’s first collaboration with Nike set the bar so high that many would argue it has never been reached again. For starters, the Swooshes were different colors on the inside and outside and the toebox featured a never-before-seen canvas material. In true Japanese fashion, the colorway paid homage to the Nike Safari, a shoe that was part of the original pack that the AM1 was released in. The eye catching safari print was perfectly mellowed with a gum sole and brown suede and leather on the upper. It also featured the mini Swoosh on the toebox, a feature that has come to signify the very best in AM1s. Perhaps it was the sheer number of additions, alterations and firsts that caused people’s heads to snap whenever they saw it, or maybe it was just an incredible shoe.
Nike Air Max 1B x Atmos – Viotech (2003)
Color: Khaki/Viotech-Dark Mocha-Metallic Gold
Often it’s the smallest touches of a shoe that wind up providing the signature aspect of it. Atmos’s second collaboration (or Special Edition as they were known in 2003) on the Air Max 1B sported exactly two hits of Viotech on the Swoosh and inside the air bubble, but it complemented the tans, browns, olives and cream colors so well that it was all that it took. Like the Safari, the Viotech sported the rare mini Swoosh on the toe. Making this AM1 even more memorable is its release in a 100 pair run nestled in a Dez Einswell designed box for the grey One Year 1 anniversary.
Parra x Patta x Nike Air Max 1 Maroon (2010)
Color: Cherrywood Red/BLTC Blue-Dl Sl
Dutch artist Parra and Patta seem to strike gold every time they lay their hands on the Air Max 1, so when the two merged minds the result was a shoe that gripped the sneaker world in 2010 and beyond. A decidedly uncomplicated shoe, the all maroon upper takes its texture and form from the suede and chenille materials as well as Baltic Blue accenting on the tongue and ankle eyelets (giving a decidedly 1970s Philadelphia Phillies look to the upper). The upper alone would make an amazing shoe, but the inclusion of red, yellow and blue on the sole and heel logo made this shoe a cinch for legendary status.
Parra x Nike Air Max 1 ‘Amsterdam” (2005)
Color: Brownstone/Blue Reef-Dark Oak
Dutch artist Parra first used the Air Max 1 as his canvas in 2005, releasing a Tier Zero all-time banger dubbed the “Amsterdam”. The burgundy, pink and baby blue tones worked together perfectly, and the insoles display a lady’s derrière in Parra’s signature illustrative styling. The Amersterdam is still one of the most coveted and expensive pairs of AM1s ever. Even rarer still is the friends and family pairs from this collab which featured Parra’s signature on the toe wrap.
Kid Robot x Nike Air Max 1 (2005)
Color: Black/Black-Hot Pink-Metallic Gold
In 2005 Kid Robot used a 1986 Maserati Quattroporte III as inspiration for what has become one of the most sought after AM1s around. This model had it all: scarcity, there were only 250 pairs made that were released exclusively at Barneys; extras, a slide out box that included a foil packaged set of sock-liners designed by one of five designers (Gary Baseman, Dalek, David Horvath, Huck Gee, and Frank Kozik) and a Kid Robot keyring; and an incredible luxurious aesthetic, with a premium black leather upper offset by hits of pink and gum all tied together with a perfectly executed gum sole.
CLOT x Nike Air Max 1 SP (2013)
Color: Neutral Grey/Obsidian-Gmm Grn
CLOTs first Air Max 1 released in 2006, and included a feature that is yet to be seen again in translucent toe box. Seven years later they again showed their commitment to progression with their second collab, this time utilizing the Hyperfuse version of the AM1. This time the Honk Kong streetwear brand used greys and whites on the upper, accenting only with green on the ankle eyelets and inside the airbag. The ice blue sole lay atop an image of a bare foot, an obvious homage to their first silhouette. This shoe was a clear declaration by CLOT that while progression is often bold and loud, a subtle attention to detail and strong understanding of the grey color palate will take you just as far.
HUF x Nike Air Max 1 Hyperstrike (2004)
Style: Anthracite/Dark Apple-Medium Grey
Limited releases don’t come much more sparse than the 2004 Huf AM1 Hyperstrike friends and family. With only 24 pairs released to friends and family (along with several samples that have surfaced) in total, it’s safe to say that these are incredibly rare. The differences between these and the non F&F release include a stitched San Francisco skyline on the heel, a perforated leather toebox and baseball inspired insoles. The Huf release was one of the very first stateside AM1 collab releases, making these a landmark pair in AM1 history.
Patta x Nike Air Max 1 “Chlorophyll”
Color: White/Chlorophyll-Matte Silver
In 2009 Patta was celebrating their 5 year anniversary with a round of collaborations, finishing up the year with a 5-pack from Nike (yes you read that right). Two of the pairs were designed as a tribute to Tinker Hatfield and his original Air Max 1 color mockup. The first was a dark purple denim and the second, shown here, was a Quickstrike pair dubbed the Chlorophyll. With premium nubuck, canvas and denim, as well as a dope green colorway (Patta is based in Amsterdam) these kicks were designed to fit in on the street. They also sported the mini swoosh on the toe box, a feature that makes any true AM1 fiend swoon.
Ben Drury x Nike Air Max 1“Hold Tight” (2006)
Color: Black/White-Medium Grey
In 2006 Nike teamed with UK designer and artist Ben Drury to work on a shoe that would be part of the “Air U Breathe” pack. Along with classmate Will Bankhead, Drury was the joint art director of legendary music label Mo’ Wax, with their direction and designs arguably creating as much buzz for the label as the music did. The AM1 that Drury designed was a black, silver and white affair featuring a 3M mudguard and pulsar stitching on the heel, taking its inspiration from London’s pirate radio scene. The phrase “Hold Tight” was a reference to industry talk that was uttered when something good or special was on the verge of happening. These came with a matching t-shirt, Windrunner jacket and cinch bag, all sporting the concentric radar rings.
Nike Air Max 1 ‘Urawa’ (2004)
Style: Jersey Red/White-Metallic Silver-Deep Red
Search for the city or Urawa in Japan and you will likely come up empty, as the city merged with two others to become Saitama City in 2001. It’s name lives on however in the form of one of the more successful soccer teams in the J-League, the Urawa Red Diamonds. In 2004 Nike dropped an Air Max 1 inspired by the home kit of the Red Diamonds that quickly became one of the more sought after pairs of AM1s. A vibrant red colorway popped (especially if you added yellow laces) off of these classically shaped Japan exclusives. The Nike Air on the heel, a feature that is rarely ever changed, was replaced with the Urawa Dragon symbol. Scarce and difficult to obtain quantities, rare features and a dope colorway all combined to make these a much sought after pair that still firmly hold their place in the pantheon of AM1s.