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    Nike Air Max 95

    Air Max 95

    In the early 1990s, Nike’s basketball sneakers were flying off the shelves thanks to Michael Jordan. So, in an effort to revitalize the running division, Nike brought in shoe designer Sergio Lozano who’d worked four years in the tennis, training and ACG departments. His ambitions were grand in scale. He wanted to build a shoe the world had never seen before.This bold new aesthetic direction was inspired by the unlikeliest of things; the rainy Oregon weather.

    Lozano looked out across the lake on campus, into the trees, and began imagining the rain eroding the earth below. It struck him. What if the perfect product was discovered because of erosion? That birthed Lozano’s sketches that would form the 95’s aesthetic of geological striations similar to the walls of the Grand Canyon. He took inspiration from the very ground that the shoes are built to run on. Lozano then layered these panels in a grey gradient, which, in tandem to the introduction of the first black midsole, helped to hide mud and general wear. 

    The designers lightened the tone by adding Nike’s signature Volt shade as a direct nod towards Nike’s race kit which has since become a heritage-defining Nike color theme. Built as a running shoe first and foremost, Lozano sought to honour the human anatomy in the 95’s design: the upper panels resemble muscle fibers; the nylon speed lacing eyelets with reflective weaving are inspired by the ribcage; plus, the midsole and heel resemble the vertebrae. 

    The Air Max 95 further honoured the runner by providing a mesh lace guard for breathability and increased cushioning through the forefoot visible air. Original releases featured a “25 PSI” air pressure reading on the rear Air unit (a pressure considered ideal for running) and 3M Scotchlite uppers for extra flair plus roadside visibility. Lozano was so confident in the individuality of the 95, he left the iconic swoosh off the shoe in the prototype phase and was only reintroduced on a smaller scale towards the back of the outer.

    Culturally, the 95s bold aesthetic was a hit and as such, was adopted by well-known music artists and sport athletes. When released, the Air Max 95 was unconventional, rebellious, against the status quo, and therefore, hugely loved. One thing is for sure, it instilled the disruptive status of Nike in the 90s and paved the way for Nike’s glorious decade of continuous innovation.

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