Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight started Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964, where they would sell Onitsuka Tigers in America until they eventually formed their own brand, Nike. They released their first Nike sneaker in 1972, and only 18 years later they would create the iconic Air Max 90. So, we decided to create an Air Max 90 that calls back to Nike’s roots. Check out the result above, and read our full breakdown below.
Our concept is dressed in a white leather and mesh upper, but with red accents on the Nike and Air Max branding. The midsole is also completely white, and both the lining and the outsole come in blue. This culminates in a subtle look, but the blue serves as an outline for the sneaker, around the top and bottom. And the red hits help draw your eyes towards Nike’s branding, and the particularly exciting details on the side of the shoe.
The sneaker is inspired by one of Nike’s most popular silhouettes, the Nike Cortez, that originally released back in 1972. This is notable from the white base, with blue and red accents, that was present on one of the most famous colorways of the Cortez. It was this exact colorway that was worn by Farah Fawcett in the show Charlie’s Angels, and by Tom Hanks in the film Forrest Gump! We decided to take this look and apply it to another Nike classic, the Air Max 90.
When you look at Nike’s history as a brand, you can separate it into 3 clear phases: 1971 to 1985, 1985 to around 2000, and then from 2000 onwards. This marks Nike’s early work, then when Tinker Hatfield came in and changed the sneaker world on so many levels, and finally our current situation with a fully online sneaker culture.
The Nike Cortez is the perfect sneaker to mark the first phase, created with the help of the late great Bill Bowerman, it formed Nike’s move away from Onitsuka Tiger, and their start as their own brand. The Air Max 90, however, is a great choice to represent the second phase, created by Tinker Hatfield, it showed a new direction for the brand, and came only a year after Nike became the largest sportswear brand in America. To therefore release a shoe that fully embodies the first 2 phase of Nike’s history, in its 3rd phase, would be legendary.