Nike is set to release a new silhouette, the Air Max Dn, on March 26, a date known affectionately by sneakerheads as Air Max Day. The shoe is a clear departure from previous looks in the iconic franchise, which was an intentional move from the design team.
“It’s important to note that we’re not making the Max 1 anymore,” Kathy Gomez, Nike VP of NXT Footwear, told FN at a media preview in late January. “We’ve evolved so much because we have this foundation of experience and expertise that we build on we learn from. I would say the team is even more passionate today about continuing to improve the benefits of Air for consumers.”
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Reggie Hunter, product director for Nike Lifestyle Footwear, added, “We’re really starting something from scratch. For us, it was a blank sheet of paper, a new problem to solve is where we started. The idea was, how do we unlock Air and make it more dynamic?”
The problem Nike was looking to solve, Hunter explained, was motion fluidness under the foot. The solution is a new technology: Dynamic Air.
Dynamic Air, according to Nike, is dual-chamber, four-tubed unit “designed for unreal comfort, a smooth stride and max bounce.” The dual-pressure Air unit, Nike explained, is comprised of two pressurized chambers, each with two tubes, with higher pressure in the back two tubes and lower pressure in the front. This design allows the air inside to move freely between the tubes and responds to the pressure as you move.
The innovation is result of collaboration between Nike designers, engineers and scientists at Nike Air Manufacturing Innovation and the Nike Sport Research Lab. Nike explained it utilized Finite Element Analysis to test the new Air unit’s durability by digitally simulating what the effect of a year of wear and tear on the shoe would be in hours.
“We always hope to deliver something that exceeds our consumers expectations,” Gomez said. “Here, based on what we were able to unlock with sensation and all the details that come together to communicate that simple idea of motion, it just works. We have a lot of confidence in it and it’s up to consumers to decide how it fits into their lives. We’re proud of it and we’re excited about it.”
Aside from the Dynamic Air underfoot, the shoe features a TPU shank arch clip for structure and support around the midfoot, as well as a TPU heel counter to support the achilles, injected phylon foam surrounding the Air unit and rubber outsoles that wrap around the heel for traction and durability.
In terms of aesthetics, Nike stated it set out to create “something Air Max lovers haven’t seen before,” a bold model “that disrupts and reimagines the future of Nike Air with each step.”
Nike stated it created the uppers “to emote the dreamy, fluid feeling of that heel-to-toe transition,” done through a modern textile featuring a secondary layer resembling silicone, resulting in haptic, textured prints.
“Air Max is at its best when it’s bold, irreverent and somewhat disruptive, too. We’ll be excited to hear the shoe was somewhat divisive as well on its initial launch,” Hunter said. “That idea that we can create conversation around it — some people love it, some people hate it — that can lead to something that actually becomes more iconic, becomes more talked about, more revered over time.”
Although Hunter referred to the Air Max Dn as a “blank sheet of paper,” there are elements that tie the new shoe to others in the franchise. This mostly comes across in its look.
“There’s the certain elements of Air Max that hold true and are way it loved in the first place,” Hunter said. “A lot of Air Max comes from a running background originally, so generally speaking it all has a stance and a profile that feels somewhat fast, designed to run. We wanted to make sure with this shoe that we returned a little bit more to that shape and that feel of Air with the faster, sleeker silhouette.”
The Nike Air Max Dn “All Night” colorway, as well as other colorways, will release via Nike.com and at Nike retail stores in both adult and youth sizes on March 26 as part of Air Max Week 2024. And the Nike Air Max Dn “All Day” colorway will drop via the Snkrs app and at select retailers in adult sizes.
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