Nike has a habit of creating era-defining footwear, and the Nike Air Max 90 is no exception. These slick kicks are an update on the Nike Air Max trainers, which were first conceived in 1987 by Tinker Hatfield, a former shop architect for the sportswear label.
Over the course of their nearly 30-year history, the Nike Air Max 90s have maintained a place at the very forefront of youth and urban culture, becoming the unofficial star of MTV as pop icons, rappers and hip-hop dancers clamoured to slip them on. In vibrant shades and with the bold swoosh symbol, they characterised the confident ambition of Generation X.
Decades on and the shoes – which usually come with a vivid colourway surrounding the sole's visible air pocket to highlight its chunkiness – are still appearing on the most directional feet. And with umpteen ways to style them, they're also an indispensable addition to your own shoe collection, forming the foundation of a spectrum of possible outfits.
Exercise your right to style
It's been clinically proven that the correct gym kit can help you keep those healthy resolutions. Or at the very least ensure you look on point while you try. These days, any old outfits just won’t cut it; the gym is the new club, after all. Discussing your exercise regime has become acceptable, perspiration has become desirable and sportswear has become on trend.
It’s easy to build your workout ensemble from the ground up with a pair of Air Max 90 trainers. For women, the designs in bubble-gum shades combine a girlish appeal with ankle support and shock-absorbing rubber soles. Add some streamlined, colour-block Kuke leggings from No Ka’ Oi for a game-changing look. Men, try matching steely grey Nike Air Max 90s with pink accents to something loud and colourful like the all-over snakeskin tees from the House of Holland x Umbro collaboration.
Take your gym kit to the streets
It’s true that gyms have become more of a catwalk in recent years. But the enduring appeal of the Nike Air Max extends beyond treadmills and dumbbells. The reason? Athleisure. For seasons past this obsession has gripped the fashion world, transforming hoodies, trainers and tracksuits into haute couture – and leaving muddled dress codes in its wake.
In SS17 in particular, athleisure levelled up – the key now is to clash super-sporty pieces with a seriously sleek aesthetic: a velvet blazer, sequin skirt or extravagant jewellery, perhaps. Pair your trainers with a slinky black off-the-shoulder jumpsuit and layer a functional Moncler padded gilet over the top. In particular, the ski-print designs from the latter label inject a touch of humour into your outfit.
Toughen up your dress
Remember when Lily Allen burst onto the scene in the early Noughties, all frothy prom dresses and Nike shoes? Her style seemed so maverick; iconoclastic, even. But while Lily is no longer hailed as quite the sartorial icon she was in the past, dresses and trainers are de rigueur and can toughen up a feminine silhouette.
The contemporary way to work this trend is with a normcore-influenced tube dress. Look to the likes of Stella McCartney and Derek Lam for designs with directional tailoring and neutral colour palettes. As for your Nike Air Max shoes? White is right to keep the combination clean and modern.
Reboot your suit
While you may not be able to waltz into a corporate law firm clad out in Nike Air Max and a suit, for men working in the creative industries this look is more than appropriate. There's something rather Silicon Valley-esque about the style guys from East London to Brooklyn have been working to give their suits an edge. Pairing black Nike Air Max 90s with a classic two-piece is too easy – try opting for something bolder, with a little more punch.
Take party veteran and FROW regular Jack Guinness’s lead in a patterned suit. Something tweed, perhaps? Or maybe an outlandish jacquard creation by Les Hommes. Finally, add the trainers; the Air Max 90 Ultra SEs with crimson and black markings and a thick white sole are an arresting sight. Meanwhile, the woven Nike Air Max 90 designs radiate an almost futuristic sensibility.
Amp up your denim
Denim and Nike Air Max shoes are one of those pairings that just works. Timelessly stylish, it’s a fashion equation that results in envious stares every time.
Rihanna regularly incorporates Nike Air Max 90s into her denim ensembles, whether that’s dungarees, cut-off shorts or 7 For All Mankind jeans. Actor and all-round Hollywood enigma Shia LaBeouf, on the other hand, is often spotted in the label's trainers with skinnies and a vintage-look tee.