Recently, Nike Design Director Graeme McMillan rescued a sketch from the Department of Nike Archives, where it had been sitting since 1987. Drawn by Nike’s legendary lead designer Tinker Hatfield, the sketch was for the Nike Air Max Zero, a concept that eventually evolved into the brand’s ever-popular Air Max 1. But surprisingly, the shoe was never produced until now.
“I thought it looked like a more contemporary version of the Air Max 1,” McMillan said in a press release.
So why wasn’t the sneaker produced back in the ’80s? According to Hatfield, it was just ahead of its time, both aesthetically and technically. “The technology and materials available at the time–such as the visible air sole units–weren’t advanced enough to execute the original vision,” he said. Now that technology has caught up with this vision, McMillan and Hatfield have worked together to produce the Air Max Zero.
The design is faithful to Hatfield’s original sketch, but adds some new innovations and materials, including the Air Max 1 Ultra outsole with a cored-out Phylon construction, fuse uppers that reduce bulk, and monofilament yarn mesh on the unusual tip.
The Air Max Zero will be available for preorder at nike.com/sportswear in select markets on March 22.