In 1987, Tinker Hatfield created yet another iconic silhouette which deeply represents the Nike brand. The Air Max 1, the first sneaker that featured a visible air unit, which created a degree of internal controversy due to the “holes in the shoe,” but it will always be an icon of Nike’s sneaker revolution. The sneaker was inspired by the Le Centre George Pompidou’s inside out design in Paris.

Le Centre George Pompidou - Photo Credit: @Pascal Poggi

The design element had everything colour-coded on the outside of the building. It included plumbing, electrics, air circulation, wires and pipes. The most recognizable feature would be the escalator outside which gives the museum it’s unique looks.

The original release of the Air Max 1 featured a mix of materials, primarily suede and mesh while the mid sole has its exposing clear air unit. Released in a mix of red, white and grey, leather versions were also released in 1988 and again in 1992. The re-production of the iconic suede and mesh was not “retro-ed” until 1995.

Original version in 1988

Till today, a highly recognized silhouette with notable collaborations using a wide array of materials, the Air Max 1 has gained enough significance to create a celebration. “Air Max Day,” which started in 2014 has an official date of March 26, reflecting when the Nike Air Max 1 first debuted in March 26th 1987. Air Max day is celebrated with special releases along as a day where the sneaker world, wears and appreciates its existence.

In 2006, doors were open to the first sneaker boutique in China, ACU, a project with CLOT. This marked as China’s first sneaker boutique in Shanghai, providing customers access to Tier-0 products.

This was also the year ACU and CLOT collaborated with Nike to create their version of the Air Max. The Nike Air Max 1 NL premium, dubbed “Kiss of Death” carried inspirations from both brands, which are reflected by Chinese medicinal forms specifically “Chi.” Amongst Chinese history, “Chi” is known as spiritual energy that flows everywhere and most commonly relates to the human body and its connection with the universe. The sneaker has insoles that reflect pressure points, whilst the translucent outsole displays an image of the foot. The no-liner construction features a transparent toe-box, snakeskin swooshes and tongue, where the ankle collar uses ostrich skin.

The concept of a scroll in the special sneaker box with Chinese pins has made the sneaker even more unique. The special shoe packaging was inspired by the ancient medical texts’ box with Chinese seal stamped. On top of the box, renowned artist MC Yan completes it with graffiti spelling out the CLOT’s origin, Hong Kong.

Released in limited numbers, ACU and CLOT have definitely showcased their Chinese cultures in this collaboration with Nike. It continues to carry their concept of “East meet West” and probably still one of their most sought after collaborations they have done till date.