AIR ICONS COLLIDE
Past and future icons of Air collide to create the Nike Air VaporMax 97 Men's Shoe, a commanding new street sneaker. It features the classic Air Max 97 design lines up top and the revolutionary Air VaporMax cushioning down below.
VaporMax cushioning is flexible, lightweight and responsive
Synthetic leather and textile upper
Rubber pods on the sole for durability
Shown: White/Varsity Purple/Metallic Silver/Aqua
Behind the Design
The Air VaporMax represents a new era in Nike innovation. “It’s changed our whole philosophy on how we design for Air,” says Cushioning Innovation Designer Zachary Elder. With the VaporMax, the designers wanted to truly capture the feeling of ‘running on air.’ The designers started by restructuring the Air unit so they could attach it directly to the upper. “That was the biggest challenge,” says Tom Minami, Senior Footwear Designer – but it was worth it. “Without any midsole or sockliner, you get to feel the Air in a whole new way.” In previous Air Max models, the goal was to fill the sole with as much Air as possible, but with the VaporMax, the focus is on using the Air efficiently. “As you step down, each lug gets pushed into the Air unit, ramping up the pressure,” Elder explains. “As you step off, the pressure releases, creating that springy bounce.” After the seven-year journey from ideation to release, Elder and Minami are excited for what’s to come. “I’m super proud of the product," Elder says. “This new approach is going to be a huge turning point for Air – and for Nike.”
Air Max 97 Origins
Nike's revolutionary Air-Sole unit made its way into Nike footwear in 1978. In 1987, the Nike Air Max 1 debuted with visible air in its heel, allowing fans more than just the feel of Air-Sole comfort—suddenly they could see it. Two years after the Nike Air Max 95 brought visible air to the forefoot, the Nike Air Max 97 arrived with the very first full-length unit. The shoe made a huge splash in the running world, as anticipated by its ripple-effect design lines. It's still making waves over two decades later.