Nike’s latest step forward for Air Max looks in some ways like a step backward. The natural progression for Air Max units has generally tended toward bigger and bustier—the long-expanding line of bulbous sneakers began in 1987 with a small, visible pocket on the Air Max 1. As Air Max grew across decades into a staple of Nike’s business so did that Air unit: into a Big Window, a full-length platform, and then into more colossal shapes in the 2000s, with bags ever more extreme. The popular Air Max 270 from 2018 boasted the tallest Air unit to date. Where could Nike go next?
To the Air Max Dn, which feels rather like a departure from the big-bag era thanks to its restrained use of the namesake tech. The Dn has what Nike calls Dynamic Air, which takes the form of one Air unit made of four separately pressurized Air tubes in the heel. This focused, localized unit is considerably smaller than ones found on recent Air Max shoes.
The upper of the Dn is seamless and sleek, anchored by a TPU shank clip for structure and support at the midfoot.
The sneaker was designed to capture the feeling of fluidity under the foot, to unencumber the Air cushioning and in turn give the wearer a bouncy sensation while maintaining a smooth transition for the foot from front to back.
“That’s the holy grail,” says Kathy Gomez, Nike’s VP of footwear innovation. “I wanna feel that dream of walking on air. The millimeters matter, and all these little tiny decisions and the nerding out and the engineering is what gets us there.”
The end point of all that input, the Nike Air Max Dn, will be released first in the blackout “All Night” colorway, priced at $160, for Air Max Day on March 26. Nike will also release an “All Day” colorway via the SNKRS app and select retail partners.