Nike Air Max 1s (also known as 87s)
It’s hard to believe that it’s over 30 years since the first Air Max sneakers were released. But it was indeed 1987 when the Air Max 1s came out and really set a new standard.
It was a simple design idea really, rather than a radical shift in cushioning technology. See, Nike had been using air cushioning in the soles since the late 70s, but nobody really knew what that meant and looked like. Unless, of course, you cut them open or wore the soles down so far that you could actually see inside.
Shoe Meets Architect
Anyway, it was actually a combination of Nike and structural architect Tinker Hatfield that resulted in this radical new design, which for the first time featured a small window into the inside of the sole.
The inspiration came from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which is a very modern building that essentially shows off everything that is usually hidden. To be honest, it’s not a particularly nice building to look at; maybe they should have teamed up with Nike for some better styling!
So, Tinker Hatfield took this idea and decided to show off some of what was going on inside a Nike shoe. Seems simple, but that’s the main ingredient to the most innovative design inspirations in history.
An Iconic Design That Has Outlasted All Others
Are they my favourites? No, but I can remember getting my first pair about a year after they were released and being the envy of all kids in school. Only one other boy, the rich kid, had a pair, so that really elevated my status.
What I love about them is that despite being 30 years old, the design still holds up against pretty much any other sneaker out there right now. Granted there have been some ridiculous new designs like the Jordan XX8, but for the average mainstream sneaker, it’s still a cool design.
Remakes of the 87s are regularly available as a retro re-issue, and if you want to get a bit nostalgic and relive the 80s, this is a great way to do it.
It’s really no surprise that these sneakers set the stage for a 30-year love affair between Nike and hip hop.
So, what was happening in 1987 in the world of rap and hip hop?
It was still a time where rap never hit any of the mainstream charts, and there were very few videos on MTV (back when MTV actually played music videos).
But a lot was happening with some classic albums being released. Ice-T released Rhyme Pays which was one of the earliest gangster rap albums that set the stage for a lot of the rap industry in the late 80s and 90s.
Also, Spoonie G released his first studio album The Godfather of Rap, and really set the stage for what we call hip hop today.
This was also the heyday of N.W.A., with the first compilation album of singles being released.
It really was the year when hip-hop took off, and rap redefined itself.