Nike has announced the next step forward for Air Max, and it's designed just for women.
The Air Max Up is a brand-new model tailored for a woman's footprint with the new ramp Air unit. Unlike typical Air Max units, the air in this one isn't pressurized, allowing it to take on different shapes and designs. This suggests that it'll be used in more sneakers in the future, possibly even for men. Whatever else is in store, this is the first Air Max sneaker designed specifically for women from the ground up.
A shoe that works... with messaging that may not — Along with the ramp Air unit on the heel, Cushlon foam used in the Zoom Air Zoom Pegasus 34 sits at the midfoot for lightweight and responsive cushioning. Nike says the Air unit is positioned in a "jewelry-like setting" — which seems like needless pandering in the messaging, as sharp as it looks.
Many women who are into sneakers say they don't want want "feminized" versions of men's sneakers (e.g. colors like pink and purple). What they want are the exact same shoes tailored to their own feet. Here, they get an entirely new model designed for the physiology of their feet — and it seems unlikely that tying the Air Max Up to stereotypical gender norms like women liking jewelry makes it any more appealing.
Ditto for tying the orange color treatment, the brightness of which is fairly typical in Nike's offerings for men and women, to "bold women who have thought outside of the bubble, stepping out of their comfort zones to pave the way of future female generations."
The rest of Nike's fall Air Max lineup — The Air Max 95 is getting an update for its 25th anniversary by adding components from the Air Max 270 to create the Air Max ZM950. You'll recognize the wavy lines from the AM95 on the upper, which is made from a lightweight mesh and sits atop an 270 Max Air unit, two visible forefoot Zoom Air units, and the beefy heel 270 Max Air unit. I tend to look away at these mix and matched Air Maxes, but someone else may be into it.
Returning from the past more true-to-form is the Air Max III, which has been recreated down to the smallest details, including the inner lining and height for its collar and heel. It'll drop in two colors, laser blue for men and eggplant for women, that fall into the trope I just mentioned.
When are these dropping? — The only firm release dates in this lineup are August 3 for the customizable VaporMax and August 7 for the Air Max Up. The rest are slated to release sometime over the following months.