Arguably regarded as the world’s most iconic sneaker detail, the Nike Air max air bag was first introduced thanks to renown sneaker desiner Tinker Hatfield, and has since seen countless reiterations, from new silhouettes to interpretations of old classics to collaborative efforts, the Nike Air Max technology has gone beyond just a performance enhancing detail to one of the most coveted lifestyle accents. Within its storied roster of collaborative projects orientated around Air Max models, one that undoubtedly stood out within the lifestyle and sneakerhead realms was Nike’s partnership with atmos, who has since put out a few offerings, most notably last year’s adoption of the classic Jordan Brand Elephant print originally found on the Air Jordan III, which was then adopted onto the Nike Air Max 1, and was looked at as the best ‘come back’ design for 2016’s Air Max day event.

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To celebrate its success, Nike has brought back its Jordan Brand on to the table, with atmos designer Hirofumi Kojima at the helm to create a limited edition double pack. The new pack will bring out the best of all involved entities, with the iconic Jumpman logo to be found on the sole, and Nike’s Safari print to be used throughout. The design pays homage to both the Nike Air Safari 1987, and the Air Max 1 gum insole design from 2002–a detail in thanks to atmos. The new atmos Air Max 1 x Jordan III Pack will officially be releasing this March 18 at selected retailers. For now read a rare interview between Nike and respected footwear designer Hirofumi Kojima about the new projects, his love for Jordan Brand and the Air Max culture as a whole below.


What does the AM1 mean to you? What does it represent for design and for sneaker culture?
Air Max series mean a lot to me, as they are the reason for me to become interested in sneakers. Among all, Air Max1 is a commemorative shoe as the 1st of Air Max series. I believe AM1 is a historical piece and an indispensable part of the legend for both atmos and sneaker culture.

What does Air Max (as a technology and a platform) mean to you?
I expect Air Max series to continue to evolve, and to come up with exciting products.

“The Air Jordan III is my personal favorite, which was the first one to use elephant pattern on a shoe.”

How did you approach the collaboration in 2007, what was the impetus for the color scheme?
I remember talking with the people in Nike Japan, who were involved in the project, about creating something crazy and stupid that would give impact to the market. We happened to find a pair of vintage Nike kids shoe with zebra print, and we decided to create shoes with animal prints under the concept of zoo

Why elephant print? Why connect the AM1, even if subtly, to the Jordan legacy and its design language?
I grew up watching Michael Jordan and my first Nike (Jordan) was Air Jordan 1 Chicago made in 1994. The Air Jordan III is my personal favorite, which was the first one to use elephant pattern on a shoe. Air Max 1 Elephant was one of 3 shoes made under the concept of zoo, which was inspired by elephants swimming in the zoo.

Is there anything you thought of about the design was complete you wish had been included?
I believed it was perfect! But if I should expect more, I would like the jade-colored swoosh in premium leather rather than in patent leather.

Why do you think this atmos AM1 has continued to excite fans?
As with all Air Max x atmos series products, I believe the reason for the big success was the use of color and material that we skillfully selected from the perspective of fashion and sneakerheads to modify the original Air Max, which had been just a running shoe. We were ahead of time as such a product was still scarce in the market. It was before internet became popular, and the products were offered exclusively in Japan through a project called “co.jp”, to further drive the desire of fanatic sneakerheads around the world.

“I understand it is inefficient, but we would like to carry exclusive local model like “co.jp” once again to drive excitement.”

These days, most brands are selling the same things around the world and there is no longer a treasure hunt like excitement in the market. I understand it is inefficient, but we would like to carry exclusive local model like “co.jp” once again to drive excitement, all the more Tokyo 2020 is approaching.

What was your reaction when the shoe was selected by fans as the one to bring back for 2017?
Of course it was a great pleasure and the greatest honor for a person whose job is about sneakers. To be honest, I did not realize the significance of the event at first, but a lot of celebratory remarks from the staff and my friends made me realize it.