Let’s Not Jump to Conclusions About the Nike Air Max 1 ’86 ‘Big Bubble’… Yet
Sneakerheads can be fickle creatures. The latest example of this phenomenon is the discourse already hitting the timeline about the still-unreleased Nike Air Max 1 ’86 ‘Big Bubble’, a recreation of the earliest iteration of the iconic model. As quickly as the Swoosh have retrieved this largely ‘untold’ story from their history book, the commentariat has hit ‘post’, decrying the reissue to varying degrees of ferocity. Hold up – let’s take a step back and assess the situation.
Comment Storm in a Teacup
The SF IG feed went ablaze this past weekend after sharing an early in-hand look at the ‘Big Bubble’. Perhaps it was the engagement-baiting ‘How do you feel about them?’ question that fueled the fire that followed.
‘Disappointed! Banana shape and ugly toe box,’ said one comment.
‘Looks terrible. Like the 09 release. *facepalm emoji*’ came another blunt statement from an established sneakerhead.
‘It’s so annoying to have been told for months we were gonna get OG air max 1s only to end up with these Nike outlet looking things,’ was among one of the more scathing early assessments of the pair.
Other comments scattered throughout were a little more diplomatic and likely to share the following sentiments.
What Does the OG Air Max 1 Actually Look Like?,
While it is accepted history that the Air Max 1 debuted in 1987, its development and production began before that. As the story goes, the very first batch of AM1s, made in 1986, featured a much bigger visible Air unit, but its surrounding midsole carrier was prone to cracking. Over 35 years later, Nike have supposedly fixed this issue, restoring the other OG details while they were at it and thus spawning the ‘new’ (but actually old) ‘Big Bubble’ retro.
More importantly, the only people qualified to properly assess the upcoming retro’s faithfulness to the OG are those with first-hand experience with the 1987 and/or 1986 batches. Seeing as not everybody has had that opportunity, checking out pics of the OG is the next best thing.
Focusing purely on the shape, which seems to be what most complaints of the new retro are about, the silhouette of the ’86 batch OG depicted in this early advert isn’t exactly rocket sharp either. Neither is the 1987 edition. While sneakerheads of age already knew this, perhaps the later generations have been told something of a white lie.
The Platonic Ideal
Ah, the ol’ rose-tinted glasses. Let’s fast forward sneaker culture a little bit to 2005, the year Nike reissued the Air Max 1 as part of the ‘History of Air’ collection. This was, for a long time, deemed to be the best iteration of the model, improving upon prior ‘OG Mesh’ releases with a revised toe box and tongue piping found on the 1986/87 pairs.
After over a decade of some fairly dark ages for the AM1, Nike came correct in 2017. It was the ‘HOA’ that likely provided a template for the ‘Anniversary’ pairs, which succeeded its predecessor as the superior AM1 – largely because of the fact it’s currently the only version of the ‘Sport Red’ (and to a less popular extent, the ‘Royal’) that can be worn without risk of crumbling. It’s also the format that most sneakerheads of the current era are familiar with, thus likely creating their perception of the model’s form.
For Better or Worse
Then, come March 2022, right before Air Max Day, a Nike SNKRS Live session revealed the arrival of a new remastered Air Max 1 featuring a bigger Air unit – the shoe in question here. This pair looked like an even more drastic reworking of the silhouette, with its elongated mudguard, toe cap and, most importantly, a noticeably longer Air unit than ever before. When viewed off a tiny phone screen via the SNKRS app, this pair looked like a hyper-perfect version of the AM1, especially when placed next to the rather fresh-looking 1986 OG. This early pair, most likely a pre-production sample, then became the expectation of what the 2023 retro would look like.
So, when the aforementioned early look pair was posted on IG, many were understandably disappointed because it looked fairly different to that SNKRS Live example. Some things appear to have changed in the 12 months since the broadcast: the mudguard slants a little differently, the toe box is rounder, and the materials seem flatter. Yes, that may be the case, but let’s refer to the actual 1986 versions – these could pass the metre test. Not to mention the Air unit does indeed look bigger.
Once again, let’s not jump to conclusions about the Nike Air Max 1 ’86 ‘Big Bubble’… yet. The release should be coming up pretty soon – Air Max Day 2023 is just a month away – so reserve judgement for when everybody who wants a pair gets a pair in hand. Then, momentous disappointment or overwhelming joy can be deservedly felt.
Stay tuned for more on the Nike Air Max 1 ’86 ‘Big Bubble’.