Thirty Years Strong: Nike Air Max Remains Iconic Sports Fashion Piece

In terms of actual functional running shoes, it's tough to think of a product other than the Air Max that is still deemed cool fashion wear.

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Apr 10 2017, 12:40pm

Dozens of people line up along Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto outside of a semi-operational fish market. It's clear that nobody is here to haul dead creatures, as no one would ever sully the shoes they were wearing by subjecting them to hard labour.

Sneakerheads have lined up for Nike's "Sneakeasy" event, which was to culminate with the unveiling of the Nike Air VaporMax at midnight. It's an invite-only event, mostly populated by artists, media, celebrities, and athletes, but a select number of tickets were released to the public (which were reportedly being resold surreptitiously for up to $500). People were not paying $500 for the chance to buy the shoes first. They were paying $500 for a chance to see the shoes first.

Mistakenly, I gave everyone in line that opportunity for free. Event organizers encouraged attendees to "wear their favourite Air Max," and since the advance pair of VaporMax were still in my living room as I was getting ready, I put those on.

READ MORE: DeMarre Carroll on His Fashion Roots, How to Look Fresh, and Dirty Shoes

At some point in a middle of a conversation, a sneakerhead notices. "Hey, he's got the VaporMax on right there!"

Suddenly there's a small congregation around me asking me questions about the shoe. As a runner, I begin to describe their performance as, you know, a running shoe.

"It's really spongy when it hits the ground, but the shoe itself fits very similar to a track spike. It will take some getting used to, but it could definitely be a great shoe for speedwork," I answer.

Nobody is really concerned with its functional performance, though. The people in line may run, they may not, but they're sure not here to find the shoe they'll be training in for this spring's 10K. They just want the visual—to see how cool the transparent gel sole looks.

The new VaporMax shoe, via Nike

Thirty years ago, Nike revolutionized the running shoe with its launch of the Air Max 1, also known as the Air Max 87. Though Air technology had been implemented in previous shoes, this was the first time the air pockets were not only enlarged, but made visible through a partially transparent sole. Tinker Hatfield's design was mindblowing, an entirely backwards approach to the design of a shoe, building it from the bottom up and presenting it from the inside out.

Read the full story at VICE Sports.

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