The Nike Air Max 1 will replace the Dunk
Fabs’ Footwear Forecast is the monthly column by Fabian Gorsler, editor-in-chief of Highsnobiety Footwear, which delves into the biggest storylines, trends and events in the global multi-billion dollar sneaker industry.
The dominance of the Nike Dunk over the past two years has been well documented. Thanks to clever influencer marketing, a rock-solid collaboration strategy, and consistent releases, the Dunk has become the sneaker of the day. Both SB and non-SB versions were flying off the shelves, selling out for exorbitant amounts, and topping everyone’s list of must-see cops on weekends.
But after two years of Dunk mania, Dunk fatigue is slowly but surely setting in throughout the industry. This is not only underscored by the sheer volume of Dunks that are released each week, but by StockX resale data, which is a good marker for the popularity and hype of the sneakers. The average resale price of Nike Dunks on StockX rose from over $ 400 to just over $ 200 from April 2020 to April 2021. Higher stock levels and higher release volume resulted in fatigue. Dunk and a subsequent drop in resale prices for newer versions.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s nice that people who couldn’t get the previous releases can now get their hands on the more widely available general releases, but the sneaker community is clamoring for a new “it-sneaker”.
I believe the new it-sneaker / sneaker of the year / sneaker of the moment (or whatever you want to call it) will be the Nike Air Max 1. All the stars are lining up for the Air Max 1 to have a huge 2022 and there are similarities to the Dunk in how Nike ushers in the Air Max 1 era.
First, the Nike Air Max 1 is one of Nike’s most iconic sneakers. Similar to Dunk, it has a long and rich history. Originally released in 1987, the Air Max 1 was designed by Tinker Hatfield and launched the Air Max line, which spawned some of the Swoosh’s most popular designs.
Next year will be the silhouette’s 35th anniversary. The Nike Dunk celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2020 and Nike is known to show immense love to its most influential models whenever it has the slightest chance. Therefore, I expect the 35th anniversary to be big and prolonged, much like the Dunk’s birthday celebrations technically started in 2019 and continued through 2021.
Nike has already started to bring the Air Max 1 into the consciousness of sneakerheads through collaborations and special releases. Last year the Nike Air Max 1 “Powerwall” pack was once again acclaimed. Denham was also asked to collaborate on an (underrated) pair in 2020, while CLOT co-founder Edison Chen and Hiroshi Fujiwara of Fragment Design both teased unreleased Air Max 1s.
This very early start mirrored how Travis Scott was used to pushing the Nike Dunk, as he was often seen wearing vintage Nike Dunks and OGs on Instagram. It started as early as 2018, but became more evident in 2019, as every photo of Travis Scott on Instagram featured a Grail-level Dunk.
This year, we’ve seen Cactus founder Jack rock his own Air Max 1 collaboration, which is rumored to drop during the holiday season in up to five colorways. Scott’s direct figure co-sign speaks volumes, as he’s Nike’s biggest celebrity sponsor, and most of the things he touches turn to gold. The rapper collaborating on one of the most iconic silhouettes is essentially Nike printing money.
Additionally, we saw a re-release of CLOT’s much-loved Kiss of Death Air Max 1 this year, along with another colorway. Dutch streetwear staunch Patta also lined up a pair of Nike Air Max 1s (my favorite of the bunch), which feature a slightly modified mudguard that looks like a wave and that’s where the project gets its name.
Overall, the timeline and the way Nike rolls out its Air Max 1 projects is almost identical to that of the Dunk, and we all know how it went. I would even go so far as to say that the Air Max 1 has even more cultural value than the Dunk before its big relaunch. Both silhouettes have had several golden eras in the past, are deeply rooted in Swoosh’s DNA, and are some of the easiest sneakers to wear.
Don’t be surprised when Nike Air Max 1 drops dominate 2022 release schedules. Before that, however, we’ve got the Patta and Travis Scott projects to look forward to.
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