This Nike Air Max Day we take a look back 30 years ago to revisit the iconic and groundbreaking technology of the forever timeless Nike Air Max 90 - a sneaker that changed running culture and set the pace for the future of athleisure.

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30 Years. 30 Designs.

1990 — 2020

Originally dubbed the Air Max 3, The Nike Air Max 90 completely reworked the Air Max sneaker for the new decade. Since its public unveiling, Air has undergone dramatic change in its aesthetic and performance. It has enthralled designers and engineers, precipitating a now decades-long legacy of evolution.

Tinker Hatfield

Meet the legendary designer:

Tinker Hatfield

Tinker Hatfield

Nike designer Tinker Hatfield wanted to make a sneaker that stood out. Still relatively early in his career, he was trying to match the success he had with the Air Jordan line and he did just that. With the Air Max 1 being the first Nike shoe to expose the “Airbag” on the heel, Tinker made sure to highlight the bag with this model with Infrared.

The Air tech was also stepped up from previous models which helped the AM90 be more comfortable for those morning runs. He wanted to make a sneaker that looked fast even when it was standing still. It’s safe to say that he nailed it.


While the AM90 wasn’t the first Nike silhouette to bring back the curtain on the Swoosh’s pioneering technology, it was the first to give it the leading role. Accentuated by a bold “Infrared” window, the running sneaker made a hard-to-miss point that the Air Max unit was the star of the show. The underlying technology would lead the Nike running line for years to come.

Air Max Infrared Visible Air
Nike Airmax Infrared Back

Birth of Infrared

As iconic Nike colorways go, “Infrared” stands alone as the eye-catching colorway that helped to originally set Nike apart. Taking a step away from the classic “blue” and “red” seen on previous silhouettes, the 90s-themed splash of that radiant pink popped off a neutral upper of black and white. The color went on to become a household name, gracing other noteworthy models like the Air Jordan 6.

Nike Airmax Infrared Bottom
Nike Airmax Infrared Back

Lifestyle & Cultural Impact

Besides being one of the most popular sneakers of the 2000s, the runner took a podium position as an athletic silhouette and as a casual staple. Highly coveted collaborations with brands like Atmos and Off-White have secured its place as an icon. The sneaker is a go-to unlike any other and while no longer used as a tool for running, its found a more permanent and important role as a streetwear legend.

“Just establishing and like bringing it back to its former glory was the best thing we could do for 2020.”

- Sr. Footwear Product Line Manager Nike Air Max, Reggie Hunter on redesigning the Nike Air Max 90.

Air Max Infrared

Air Max Infrared

“If I’m going to make a pair of shoes I need a pair that aren’t going to hurt my feet, so Nike Air Max 90s were my choice.”

- Dave Ortiz of Dave’s Quality Meats on his reason for picking the Nike Air Max 90 for the “Bacon”