Introducing The Nike’s New Air Max 1 ‘Master’ Sneaker

Nike's New Air Max 1 'Master'

Last year for Air Max Day, March 26, Nike released the first volume of a documentary series, “Masters of Air.” The 10-minute clip follows a handful of sneaker enthusiasts as they bring us into their obsession with the Air Max family of products. It shows us not only how they got connected to the shoes but also what they’re doing now.

“Masters of Air” continues in spirit this year with the upcoming limited-edition release of the Air Max 1 “Master,” a veritable archive of history on a single pair of shoes. The paneling might look like a jumble of mismatched fabric swatches to some, but for Air Max fans it actually represents a much deeper story.

“As a part of the 30th anniversary journey, we wanted to give back to the community who regularly engages with us,” Dylan Raasch, Nike Sportswear Senior Director of Footwear tells us exclusively. “We spent a massive amount of time perfecting the silhouette as we reintroduced the Air Max 1 OG—focusing heavily on the materials, color, and shape.”

That silhouette reflects an earlier age, but the colors around the mudguard do something much more. For many, the 2000s era of the Air Max 1 was something of a golden age. It’s an appropriate distinction. The collaborations from that decade, and even some inline colorways, remain some of the most sought-after pairs through all Air Max history.

Nike's New Air Max 1 'Master'

“The collaborations and colorways chosen for the Air Max 1 ‘Master’ were from this time, when the Air Max 1 was truly becoming a sneaker culture icon,” Raasch explains. Collectors scramble after these shoes to this day, creating an even deeper hunger for the line every year. They are a big reason the interest in the Air Max program hasn’t waned, even three decade after its launch.

As a nod to that history and a celebration of the lineage, Nike created the “Master,” bringing a veritable Hall of Fame of AM1 designs onto one shoe. The bulk of the upper is remarkably understated in tonal black leather, but that’s just the foundation for the main event: swatches from a dozen of the most popular Air Max 1 colorways ever produced.

Nike's New Air Max 1 'Master'

This one pair of shoes plays host to colorways from combination of three different Atmos collaborations, the two original AM1s from 1987, plus collabs from Kid Robot, Patta, Parra, and Clot, along with two popular general-release pairs. To the uninitiated, the sneakers might look like a hodgepodge. But that’s okay. These shoes weren’t designed for the novice.

“It’s a way for any collector to show the gems of their entire collection at once,” says Raasch. “If you are a passionate Air Max 1 fan, then you can probably name each and they may have a special place in your heart. It’s more of a statement for the hardcore fan.” You’ll find those original pairs in the collections of the most serious collectors, behind protective glass at sneaker consignment shops, and popping up all over the “Masters of Air” documentary.

To explain the name for the shoe, we have to look at what a “Master of Air” even is. At the beginning of the documentary the phrase is defined as, “A passionate ambassador of Air Max culture; a connoisseur of leather, mesh, nylon and above all else, Visible Air.” The subjects of the short documentary each tell a different story, in many different languages, about how they came to Air Max. For one, it was an injury. For another, a way to rebel against her family. For one man it was his own version of rejecting communism.

Nike's New Air Max 1 'Master'

If nothing else, this year’s Air Max Day on March 26 is more than a celebration of a shoe and product line that launched thirty years ago. It reminds us that even if we all have wildly different stories and look nothing like the person standing next to us, there’s still something that brings us together—and that our history is more shared than separate.