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The Evolution of Nike Air: The Complete Guide to Nike Air Vapormax Plus

CEO Tinh Phung
The Nike Air VaporMax Plus burst onto the scene in 2018, but its roots go back decades. Inspired by the iconic Nike Air Max Plus from 1998, this shoe is a testament to how modern...

The Nike Air VaporMax Plus burst onto the scene in 2018, but its roots go back decades. Inspired by the iconic Nike Air Max Plus from 1998, this shoe is a testament to how modern technology can elevate timeless designs. The original Air Max Plus has remained popular for over 20 years, constantly being stocked in various colorways and retro versions around the world.

Nike Air Max Plus
The original 1998 Nike Air Max Plus.Courtesy of Nike

The story of the Air Max Plus begins in 1997 when Nike footwear designer Sean McDowell joined the brand. Tasked with creating a new Air Max running shoe, McDowell drew inspiration from his time spent on Florida beaches. His vision took shape in the form of a sneaker with a sunset aesthetic on the upper, supported by design elements resembling swaying palm trees. This breezy beauty became the Nike Air Max Plus, renowned for its fluid design, top-down 3M flash, and innovative Nike Air cushioning.

While the Air Max Plus caught the attention of fashion-conscious individuals worldwide in 1998, its true appeal to serious runners was the introduction of Tuned Air technology. Serving as Nike's latest performance innovation, Tuned Air cushioning offered a smoother and more supportive ride. Blow-molded Air bubbles backed by rubberized hemispheres strategically placed within the shoe created a groundbreaking approach to Air Max cushioning.

Throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, Nike continued to reinvent its Air Max cushioning technology in various ways. However, it was in 2017 that Nike introduced its most radical revision to date: VaporMax.

Nike Air VaporMax
The Nike Air VaporMax cushioning.Courtesy of Nike

The development of VaporMax took seven years of ideation and engineering before it was ready to hit the market. Not only did VaporMax offer an aesthetically pleasing "running on air" experience, but it also provided a more efficient ride. With its full-length cushioning, VaporMax was visually lighter and more flexible than previous iterations of Nike Air, marking a futuristic evolution of this renowned technology.

Recognizing the immense popularity of VaporMax, Nike seized the opportunity to modernize a beloved classic in honor of the Air Max Plus' upcoming 20-year anniversary.

In 2018, the Nike Air VaporMax Plus was born.

Nike Air VaporMax Plus Hyper Blue
Nike Air VaporMax Plus "Hyper Blue."Courtesy of Nike

The VaporMax Plus showcased a more advanced design compared to its iconic predecessor. It replaced the Tuned Air sole with a modern VaporMax unit, while the upper embraced a softer neoprene fit. The palm tree-inspired styling of the original was elevated with bold TPU caging, with additional 3M accents on the tongue and toe box paying homage to the original design. The famous heel branding also received an update, reading "Vm Air" instead of "Tn Air."

During its introduction, the Nike Air VaporMax Plus drew inspiration from the acclaimed "Hyper Blue" colorway of the Air Max Plus, as well as its striking orange "Sunset" iteration. The shoe continued to reinvent itself in various captivating themes and colorways, just like its predecessor.

Nike Air VaporMax Plus Be True
Nike Air VaporMax Plus "Be True."Courtesy of Nike

Over time, the Nike Air VaporMax Plus expanded its range by releasing captivating "Be True" celebratory colorways and paying homage to other timeless Air Max favorites like the "Neon" Air Max 95 and "Undftd" Air Max 97. It quickly gained popularity among fashion elites like A$AP Rocky, as well as everyday shoppers looking for a modern cushioning experience with a bold design. With its nostalgic silhouette, advanced technology, and global availability, the VaporMax Plus appealed to people of all ages and became a lifestyle favorite.

Despite being on the market for several years, the Nike Air VaporMax Plus continues to captivate sneaker enthusiasts worldwide. It remains a staple in shoe stores, appreciated not only for its performance capabilities but also for its enduring appeal as a fashion statement. Nike continuously introduces new colorways, drawing inspiration from influential figures such as Ken Griffey Jr. and even paying tribute to iconic designs like the black/hyper pink pairs reminiscent of the Nike Air Yeezy 2.

Since its arrival in 2018, the Nike Air VaporMax Plus has solidified its place in sneaker culture. Blending the past with the future, this shoe is here to stay.

Nike Air VaporMax Plus
Nike Air VaporMax Plus in black and hyper pink.Courtesy of Nike