There is no greater franchise in the history of Nike sneaker tech than Air Max. The inception of Visible Air in 1987 completely flipped the script on how cushioning was viewed – literally. Since then, the big bubble fam has enjoyed constant innovation thanks to Nike’s obsession with one-upping the line-up year-on-year. Stepping away from Asics Gel Quantum 360 Womens convention once more, the Air Max 270 is the first member of the club designed purely to provide comfort through the daily grind. Time to break down the 270 design one revolution at a time.
Before we get too deep into the particulars, we’ll tease out a bit of historical context. Going back to the mid-70s, the concept of air cushioning was originally developed by NASA engineer Frank Rudy. Redirecting his space-age knowhow from the Apollo project Nike Roshe Run Mujer to running shoes, Rudy’s vision of bouncy air soles was co-opted by Nike, who tucked the tech away inside the foam midsole of the
Tailwind runner in 1978.
Air would remain invisible for close to the next decade. Famously inspired by the exposed workings of Paris’s Centre Pompidou, Tinker Hatfield’s Air Max 1 design from 1987 was the first to let the juicy bubble peek out from its foamy Adidas Eqt Support Adv Dames confines.
Year after year, Visible Air evolved. The Air Max 95 introduced multiple bubbles. The Air Max 180 exposed the gaseous membrane the whole way around the outsole in a 180-degree arc. The Air Max 93 wrapped around the heel, while the Air Max 97 stretched all the way from the toe to the heel without interruption. The Air Max 360 did away with foam midsoles altogether, using a radical cage system to harness the bed of air. In 2017, the Nike Air Max 2017 Womens ultimate statement arrived. VaporMax presented a platform that was pure, unadulterated airbag. Throughout decades of linear progression, Nike never lost sight of the heritage of Air as they blazed into the future.
From an archival perspective, the Air Max 270 bears a striking resemblance to the 180 and 93, affording it a comfortable familiarity at odds with its futuristic proportions. Design-wise, Asics Gel Lyte 3 Femme the sleek, sock-like upper takes its cues from the stretchy inner sleeve that first appeared on the 180. The bulging heel was inspired by the Air Max 93, which pioneered a new blow-moulding manufacturing process to deliver the prominent rear-mounted cushion.
According to Dylan Raasch, who spearheaded the Air Max 270 design team, the biggest challenge was simply engineering such a towering heel Nike Roshe Run Womens unit. In previous iterations, cushioning was Nike Air Max 90 Femme Noir geared toward speed and performance so it was preferable to keep the foot closer to the ground for max stability. Since the 270 was all about max comfort, it required greater displacement beneath the heel for a heightened degree of cush. The mountainous bag Raasch came up with is an imposing 32mm tall – a full 15% bigger than any previous Air Max. The result is a trampoline-like ride that allows Nike Roshe Run Femme Noir for a more pronounced transition between heel and toe.