The concept of the original Air Max was created by a NASA engineer. Now it’s fusing with Nike’s latest foam technology.
You don’t have to be a connoisseur to know the Nike Air Max. The shoe is a style staple, and has seen variations galore over its 32 years.
Besides Air Max, there’s also React. These are two of Nike’s more prominent cushioning systems, born in different eras in the quest for finding the best cushion for runners.
The idea of putting air in a sneaker’s sole was floated by NASA engineer Frank Rudy. The concept—encapsulating inert gas in a polyurethane plastic layer—was initially tried by Nike with the Air Tailwind. That concept gave birth to the Air Max.
The Air Max made its mark in the 1990s, with Tinker Hatfield’s forever resurgent Air Max 1. That defined a new age of running and basketball sneakers, with a unique silhouette to mark each year of the decade. Sporting the signature “air bubble,” the sneaker’s sole window became a trademark aesthetic for the cushion, and made its way to numerous styles beyond the ’90s from casual to sport.
React, the younger of the two models, was released in 2017, when expectations for industry-defining innovation were high. The React foam was supposedly lighter, and held a better energy return than predecessors like the Zoom and the Lunarlon. But it ran into the same problems as its predecessors: the foam was also dependent on a firmer encapsulating presence to hold it in place, which compromised its best features.
In 2018, we saw a different React. Consumers got an ultra light sneaker with a single slab of foam, and it didn’t rely on an encapsulating foam to hold its structure in place. It looked like the shoe was sitting on the cushion and nothing more, eliminating excess weight and providing low-to-ground responsiveness. It offered a different feel, as it was actually was directly in contact with the ground.
Today, we get the best of both worlds in the Nike Air Max 270 React. As the name implies, the React and the recently released Air Max 270 are fused nicely into a piece of art. We can see cues and inspiration taken from two other prominent siblings, the Air Max 2 Light and Air Max 93, and a no-sew construct inspired by the Element React 87.
Aesthetically, the sneaker is a walking statement that takes over an outfit. The protruding Air Max heel bubble definitely commands attention, and the vibrant mix of colors encourages keeping things muted up top so that the sneakers can do the talking.
Go and try a pair on, and don’t say you can’t pull it off until you check yourself out in the mirror.
Mitch is your average caffeine-fuelled IT guy. He’s almost always window shopping for menswear and managing his incurable sneaker addiction. He’ll still probably be a basketball junkie even if he can't run anymore.