The All-Time Greatest Nike and Nike SB Air Trainer 1 Colourways
The Air Trainer 1 is delightfully perplexing. As Nike's first true multi-purpose sports shoe, it’s one of the most impactful silhouettes in Swoosh history – and it was designed by none other than the legendary Tinker Hatfield. Despite these bona fides, it’s become somewhat of a cult classic: one beloved by dyed-in-the-wool sneakerheads, but largely overlooked by the secondary market.
However, that may all change due to Travis Scott’s forthcoming Air Trainer 1 colabs. Nobody in Nike’s current collaborative roster can rocket a shoe into the stratosphere of hype quite as rapidly as Scott can, and it’s not unreasonable to think the man they call La Flame might have that effect on the Air Trainer 1.
Either way, it’s a great time to look back at the very best Air Trainer 1 and SB Air Trainer 1s from the silhouette’s three decades-plus of history. See a ten-pack of classic styles listed in chronological order below, and note that now’s a good time to cop if any catch your eye – especially as most of the shoes you’ll see below can be found online for very reasonable prices!
Nike Air Trainer 1 'Chlorophyll' (1987)Nike Air Trainer 1 'Chlorophyll' (1987)
The Air Trainer 1 line’s alpha and the omega is the ‘Chlorophyll,’ its first and most recognisable colourway. Tinker Hatfield’s penchant for pulling inspiration from unlikely places was on full display here, as the subtle blend of white, black and grey that’s set off by pops of green was taken directly from the gym equipment at a Portland-area YMCA. First made famous by maverick tennis star John McEnroe, the ‘Chlorophyll’ has since retroed in 2008 and 2012, was resurrected in SB form in 2020 and has inspired a special Air Jordan 3 plus a myriad of other training and lifestyle sneakers.
Nike Air Trainer 1 CO.JP ‘Safari’ (2001)Nike Air Trainer 1 CO.JP ‘Safari’ (2001)
Ah, the joys of CO.JP. A bygone era, one where you needed a region-specific plug, an in-the-know resell shop or a healthy flight budget to get your hands on Japan-exclusive sneakers. No matter if you were tapped in enough to secure CO.JP kicks or you simply lusted after them online, there’s a good chance your eyes fell upon the CO.JP-exclusive Air Trainer 1 'Safari.’ One of the first-ever Air Trainer 1 retros, the ‘Safari’ discarded the print you’d expect to see on a shoe with its moniker in favour of an ultra-clean beige, black and grey combination.
Nike SB Air Trainer 1 ‘Paul Brown’ (2003)Nike SB Air Trainer 1 ‘Paul Brown’ (2003)
The ‘Paul Brown’ was Nike SB’s very first go-around with the Air Trainer 1, and what a start it was! Nicknamed after the colourway listed on its silver and green box, the ‘Paul Brown’ was indicative of two important pieces of Nike history: it was the first direct acknowledgement of skateboarders adopting the Air Trainer 1 in the late 1980s, and its brown, tan black and navy build encapsulated the bold designs that were beginning to make SB famous in the early 2000s.
Talib Kweli x Nike Air Trainer 1 ‘Beautiful Ones’ (2004)Talib Kweli x Nike Air Trainer 1 ‘Beautiful Ones’ (2004)
Did you know that Travis Scott isn't the first musician to collaborate on the Air Trainer 1? Talib Kweli did it all the way back in 2004, when Scott was just entering his teens. In celebration of his second studio album, The Beautiful Struggle, Kweli and Nike created a special Air Trainer 1 dubbed ‘Beautiful Ones.’ Limited to a scant 25 pairs that were distributed to Kweli’s friends and family (plus a few lucky Nike employees), the ‘Beautiful Ones’ is the rarest shoe you’ll see on this list, identifiable by the unique embroidered detail on its lateral heel.
HUF x Nike SB Air Trainer 1 ‘Gold Digger’ (2005)HUF x Nike SB Air Trainer 1 ‘Gold Digger’ (2005)
The first-ever Nike SB Air Trainer colab is still one of the most noteworthy. Before expanding into the global skate powerhouse it is today, HUF was a scrappy, upstart brand. It started out as a sneaker shop and was fuelled by the mind of one Keith Hufnagel (RIP) and his talented team. Inspired by HUF’s San Fransisco roots and designed by a young Benny Gold, the ‘Gold Digger’ is simply loaded with SF lore. Not only does it nod to the 49ers and Giants with hits of red and orange, it also cleverly salutes to the region’s gold rush history and the process of panning for gold, by tucking metallic gold foil under its brown mesh toeboxes and collars.
Nike Air Trainer 1 ‘Tech Pack’ (2007)Nike Air Trainer 1 ‘Tech Pack’ (2007)
The Air Trainer 1 was a perfect silhouette for inclusion in the ‘Tech Pack,’ a late-aughts Nike Sportswear effort that added Nike ACG-esque bold and bright makeups to classic silhouettes. Why did the Air Trainer 1 fit into this effort so seamlessly? You can look to its all-purpose, multi-sport nature. Pink and yellow colourways were included in the Air Trainer 1’s ‘Tech Pack’ releases, but the former was the more compelling of the duo.
Nike SB Air Trainer 1 ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (2007)Nike SB Air Trainer 1 ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (2007)
Holiday-themed kicks are hard to do right, but Nike does them better than most – especially Halloween styles. A part of the ‘Horror Pack,' the SB Air Trainer 1 ‘Dawn of the Dead’ took both its nom de guerre and its colourway inspiration from the titular 1978 horror flick, boasting bright pops of purple and orange. It even features a decaying zombie on its insole. Spooky!
Nike Air Trainer 1 '112 Pack' (2008)Nike Air Trainer 1 '112 Pack' (2008)
DJ Clark Kent was really on his ones (and twos) when he worked on the now-legendary ‘112 Pack’, which kicked off a swath of samples, PEs and unreleased prototypes in the years after its 2008 debut. Though the pack’s Air Max 1 and Air Force 1 get the most mainstream recognition, Kent also applied his magic touch to the Air Trainer 1, giving it hi-vis reflective 3M detailing, classic elephant print and blindingly bright hits of volt.
Nike Air Trainer 1 ‘Nike Knows’ (2014)Nike Air Trainer 1 ‘Nike Knows’ (2014)
Created for the Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, the Air Trainer 1 ‘Nike Knows’ was so gaudy that there was no way it could be left off of this list. Boasting a name inspired by Bo Jackson’s famous ‘Bo Knows’ commercials, it bears a resemblance to a shimmering Super Bowl trophy and released just weeks ahead of the big game. It also featured a lenticular upper that gleamed and glistened no matter what angle it was viewed from. The 'Nike Knows' was followed by an all-gold Air Trainer 1 ‘Super Bowl’ in 2016, but it goes without saying that no championship is quite as memorable as the first one.
Fragment x Nike Air Trainer 1 ‘French Open/Chino’ (2015)Fragment x Nike Air Trainer 1 ‘French Open/Chino’ (2015)
Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment linked up with Nike in 2015 for a six-pack of tennis-inspired takes on the Air Trainer 1. The best of the bunch was the ‘French Open’ aka ‘Chino’ pair, (but this editor has a soft spot for the ‘Chlorophyll’ colourway because he scored it for $40 at a Nike outlet). Fujiwara’s other five takes on the Air Trainer 1 used tonal colour schemes and full leather construction, but the ‘French Open/Chino’ offered rustic elegance with leather and suede tooling, centred around a burnt orange Swoosh and a debossed lightning bolt logo.
TEDxPortland x Nike Air Trainer 1 (2019)TEDxPortland x Nike Air Trainer 1 (2019)
TEDx and Nike had long created footwear for the annual TEDxPortland event (Air Jordan 1s, Air Max 1s and Humaras, to name a few) by the time its 2019 instalment rolled around. However, the shoes for TEDxPortland 2019 were a little different. They were Air Trainer 1s, and they were the first TED sneaker to be made available to the public. 200 pairs in total were crafted and each featured an ‘Infrared’-esque colour scheme plus embroidered ‘Spread Ideas’ hits. Most were given away to event staff and speakers, but 20 were auctioned off with all proceeds going towards the organisation's 2020 scholarship fund, which provided free tickets to students.
Want to learn more about the Air Trainer 1? Check out five facts you need to know about the iconic silhouette here.