Walking on Air: Essential Nike Designs

Now the world’s leading sports brand, raking in sales of more

than $24 billion in the last year, Nike began as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964. Its iconic swoosh logo has graced the feet of world-class athletes the world over for decades, most recently helping Mo Farah race his way to gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. As well as bringing us some beautiful footwear, the company invest heavily in research and development, always at the forefront of new sports technology.More than just gold medal winners in the world of sport, the brand has gone on to become one of the biggest streetwear and fashion labels on the planet. We’ve taken a look at their classic kicks catalogue to bring you our top Nike designs, past and present.

Nike Air Max
The first sporting brand to feature visible in-sole air units, the design breakthrough made the Air Max a must-have in the playground, on the streets and on the sports field. First launched in 1987, Nike have gone on to feature their now trademark visible air units time and again, but it all started with the Air Max 1. The brainchild of Nike design guru Tinker Hatfield, the sneaker whiz got the idea for the visible air unit from the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 25 years later, they’re still using his bright idea, guaranteed to make you feel like you’re walking on air.

Nike Air Jordan I
In 1984, Nike teamed up with superstar basketball player Michael Jordan to create what would turn out to be the most iconic basketball shoe range of all time. Their striking red and black colourway grabbed attention in more ways than one. When then rookie player Jordan wore them on the court, the NBA banned the shoe for contravening its uniform code. Proving he’s a badass, Jordan wore them anyway, with Nike coughing up the $5,000 fine he incurred every time he played in them. The notoriety only served to seal this model’s reputation as the coolest basketball shoe in history, and also introduced us to another iconic Nike logo – the Jumpman which is available at JD Sports.

Nike Air Jordan III
Jordan and Nike would go on to create more than 30 shoe designs together, but the unstoppable tag team almost faltered as soon as it had started. In 1986, after the release of the Air Jordan II, Jordan was unhappy with the Nike set up and was ready to switch to another brand. Enter Nike design guru Tinker Hatfield. He was given the task of designing a shoe that would woo Jordan back and, for the first time, asked the basketball legend exactly what he’d like from the shoe. This resulted in the iconic elephant print of the Air Jordan III, also the first Air Jordans to feature Nike’s trademark visible air unit. Widely regarded as the hottest Air Jordan model, this 1988 classic is by far one of Tinker Hatfield’s most celebrated design achievements.

Nike Volts
There was no missing these instant classics at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Gracing the feet of more than 400 athletes at the summer games, Nike’s eye-popping neon yellow Volts collection was designed to get noticed. Featuring their new patented featherweight Flywire material, knitted from a single thread, the glove-like fit and ultra-light weight helped 68 Olympic athletes onto the medal podium, 25 of them winning gold.