To most people the first day of spring means warmer weather, blooming flowers and free Rita's Water Ice. But for the small yet fanatical subculture of sneaker enthusiasts it means only one thing: Air Max Day is right around the corner! That's right, every March 26th since 2014 Nike blesses the community with a trove of special releases in celebration of the 3/26/1987 release of the shoe that started it all, the Air Max 1. This year Nike has gone back to the model's very roots by bringing back what may be the first "grail" in sneaker history: the Air Max 1 "Big Bubble."
While most people know that the Air Max 1 introduced the world to the concept of visible air cushioning and laid the foundation for the one of the most beloved and successful sneaker lines in history, few realize that the whole endeavor almost blew up in Nike's face...literally.
For the first few months of its release, the Air Max 1 featured a noticeably bigger window than the one we all recognize on our shoes today. So why did the window shrink? With a launch date in place and manufacturing already started, Nike engineers (to their dismay) discovered that the exposed Air unit had a tendency to crack in cold temperatures. Adjusting on the fly, engineers quietly "shrunk the window both in length and height" and began using a new Air unit in all subsequent production runs to prevent the great cracking catastrophe.
Released on March 26th, 1987, the ultra-rare original Air Max “Big Bubble" hit the shelves and thankfully didn't bust (most likely because of the rising spring temps). After the initial run, the Air Max 1 as we know it secretly replaced the original with the smaller window that is synonymous with the model, taking hold as the leader of the Air Max pack.
And the "Big Bubble?" It faded away—until now. This year's Air Max Day special release has recreated the original Air Max 1 to the exact specs as the pairs released on March 26, 1987. Using CT scans (yes, really) to dissect 1 of maybe only 400,000 released pairs of the "Big Bubble," Nike replicated the Nike Air unit and window used in the '86 original, without any possibility of temperature-related bursting, so you can step on the bedrock of sneaker history. Featuring the original '86 shape and iconic red, white and grey color blocking but on updated premium materials, this version of the OG Air Max 1 is truly bigger AND better than ever!
The Air Max 1 OG '86 "Big Bubble" releases in men's and women's sizing on Sunday, 3/26 at 10:00am online & 12:00pm in-store.