Despite being nearly two decades old, Sean McDowell’s iconic design continues to surprise.
In 1997, Sean McDowell was brand new to Nike, if not to the shoe design game; he had worked with New Balance since 1995. Immediately, Nike put him onto a challenging project: a shoe designed exclusively for Foot Locker that used a new type of Air Max cushioning. 15 sketches had been submitted to the client so far and they had all been rejected.
Unbeknownst to everyone (including McDowell himself), the idea for Air Max Plus had been planted years earlier. One evening during a vacation in Florida, McDowell was sketching on the beach.“One evening, it was turning to dusk, so the very blue sky was starting to fade to dark blue, and the palm trees were blowing in the wind.” The designer sketched out a design and saved it for future use.
An original sketch for the Air Max Plus, then under the working title of ‘Sky Air.’
The Air Max Plus is like a great painting; the more you look at it, the more details you’ll find. From the sublimated fade on the upper as it goes from dark to light blue, to the welded TPU, to the brand new Air technology in the sole, the design is an exercise in new techniques. As a testament to this, if you put on a pair of Air Max Plus before hitting the street, most kids will know them as Tn’s. This nickname arose from the biggest innovation on the shoe - The “Tuned Air” sole and its corresponding logo on the heel.
Released in November 2017, the Air Max Plus “Big Logo,” as its name suggests, puts the iconic Tn logo front and centre.
THEN AND NOW
The Nike Vapormax features the most advanced Air Max sole yet.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Air Max 1 (the first sneaker with visible Air in the sole), Nike dropped the Vapormax. Featuring a flyknit upper and massive Air units, it was hailed as the company’s most advanced and comfortable shoe yet. With such a recognizable sole, the possibilities for crossover were plentiful.
From this, The Vapormax Plus was born. Combining the best of old and new, the Vapormax Plus fuses a Vapormax sole to an Air Max Plus upper, combining two iconic silhouettes into a force to be reckoned with. The shoe comes in several colourways, my favourite being “Rainbow,” pictured below.
This crossover highlights the innovation associated with both models, and creates a unique looking shoe that is perfect for those who want to turn heads.
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