Air Max Zero – The One Before The One

When Tinker Hatfield drew inspiration from the Pompidou Centre in Paris and designed the Air Max 1, we were all led to believe that it was the first of it’s kind. But it wasn’t… There was one before the One. This year, on the anniversary of 1987 classic, Nike brought it to life. Air Max Zero.

Air Max Zero

If you asked most people to name a modern day trainer I’m pretty sure the bulk of people would go for the Air Max. I’m also pretty sure that most people with even a minor interest in sneakers has, at some stage in their life, wanted a pair. It may have been the 1s, or the 90s, or the 95s, but somewhere along the line there’s been an Air Max for you.

If you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram you’ll have heard me going on about Shelflife. Shelflife are a speciality store based in Cape Town that have, without doubt, the best collection of trainers you’ll find in South Africa. So whether it is the 1s, or 90s, or 95s (or Zeros) that caught your eye, you’ll get them there.

Nike - Visible Air

Anyway, I wanted to give you guys a little bit of a history on the Air Max and the idea of ‘visible air’…

As I’ve mentioned previously, the concept of ‘visible air’ came from one of Hatfield’s trips to Paris where he came across the inside-out Pompidou Centre. Long story short, he thought it’d be cool to make a trainer with a similar look.

It was then that Hatfield, who has been key to practically every Air Max release, sat down and designed what we now know as the Zero. For whatever reason it was never made, and instead, in 1987, the 1 was released and a cult was born.

Hatfield wasn’t alone on his mission, and another man who was crucial to the idea of ‘visible air’ was David Forland, Nike’s ‘Director of Cushioning Innovation’ (Yeah, that’s a real thing).

Speaking on the concept, Forland said, “Air-Sole units were becoming thinner and thinner to make the manufacturing process easier. We wanted to get back to injecting more air in to the sole to achieve a strong cushioning sensation under the foot.”

“If you look at the history of Air Max, especially from 1987 to 1993, one of the main differences among models was each version held a greater volume of air than the last one, and conversely the least amount of foam. Foam breaks down; air doesn’t.”

“Foam breaks down; air doesn’t…”

As for the Zero itself, I’ve been really impressed so far. Air Maxs have always been comfy, and the Zero takes it an extra step further. It’s probably the comfiest trainer that I’ve ever had and is very clean aesthetically. I’m also a fan of the sock-style that it has, with the tongue-less design meaning that it really just fits to your foot. Mostly though, I just love the story behind this trainer and the Tinker Hatfield signature inside the left shoe is a really nice touch for me.

Anyhoo, there’s my two cents for the day, get yourself onto and get yourself hooked up. Trust me, it’s nice to walk around in my new Zeros knowing that only a handful of people in the continent managed to get their hands on a pair.

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Also, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to pick up a pair of signed ones. It turns out that a very, very, VERY limited amount of trainers don the signature of Tinker Hatfield himself. Good luck.


Whaaaaaat?! – @Heath22Newman’s pair

Oh, and seriously, for all you sneaker freaks out there, head on over to Shelflife’s site, or store if you’re in Cape Town, you’ll find some proper treats on there.



Joe Crann

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