The Nike Air Max 90 Collector: Iceberg
The Nike Air Max 90 is technically known as the Air Max III. Perfecting the vision he’d started with the Air Max 1, Tinker Hatfield gave the model a faster look with forward tapering panels of synthetic microsuede, duromesh and leather. A thermoplastic Nike ‘love heart’ was added to the heel – a unique pop that came to symbolise the model itself. Mythology also plays a role here. The AM90 first dropped in colours known as ‘Laser Blue’ and ‘Radiant Red’. Contrary to popular wisdom – and despite its present-day nickname – the OG AM90 was never officially referred to as the ‘Infrared’ until its reissue in 2003.
Almost three decades since the AM90’s inception, countless retros, collaborations and hybrids sustain demand for this beefy old runner. For many heads, the ‘Infrared’ 90 is the quintessential Air Max, the most perfect of them all, and it’s hard to argue with that. Thanks to our friends Iceberg and Overkill in Berlin, we tracked down every pair released over the years.
Hey Iceberg, nice to meet you. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Nice to meet you too! I’m 40-something years old, I live in Germany, and I think Jordan Geller is a bitch.
What’s your earliest Air Max memory?
Back in 1993, I saw the Air Max 93 and the massive Air bubble on its heel for the first time – it was love at first sight. The ‘Menthol Blue’ Air Max 93 was the first Nike sneaker I bought. I had worn only adidas runners before, but this was the day that everything changed.
It’s amazing you have a complete set of ‘Infrared’ AM90 retros. Which edition was the hardest to find?
Getting samples happens mostly by accident, so I would say it was the OG in ‘Radiant Red’. I saw a few pairs on eBay over the years, but I was never willing to pay the enormous prices. In the end, it was the last of the Infras missing in my set, so I had to take them. I didn’t want to take the chance of them never coming back.
What is it about the ‘Infrareds’? Has there ever been a better colourway?
In my opinion, the AM90 ‘Infrared’ is the greatest shoe ever. I like the shape of the Air Max 90, how it looks on the foot, and I really love simple colourways. White, grey, and this awesome kind of red is an unbeatable combination. The OG ‘Laser Blue’ is sick too, and there were a few nice retros in the early 2000s. But there can be only one: the ‘Infrared.’
It hasn’t always been called ‘Infrared.’ What are some of the other box names?
I’ve heard different colour names of the 1990 OG. You have called it ‘Radiant Red’ and others call it ‘Hyvent Orange’. But the tag on the box says ‘H RD’, which in my opinion means ‘Hot Red’ – and indeed, this red is really hot! The first retro that released in 2002 said ‘Mx Orange’, so the first time the AM90 was actually called ‘Infrared’ was in 2003.
Good to know. ‘Radiant Red’ is listed in the Nike catalogue, but these things are never 100 per cent. The OG is very fragile, how do you store them?
I bought them a few months ago, so I can’t tell you the secret of their condition. Most of my vintage shoes are stored in a room without heating or climate control, but there’s a bit of humidity in the air and that seems to preserve the elasticity of the soles.
How do you feel about the new techniques that Nike have applied to Air Max, such as Vac Tech, Hyperfuse and Engineered Mesh?
Not my cup of tea, I like it old school. Straight mesh FTW!
You must have some great Air Max hunting stories.
Too many! Good ones and bad ones, but the worst was when a guy from China offered me three pairs of the ‘Homegrown/State Mag’ AM90 Hyperstrikes. This guy lived near a Nike factory where a lot of samples are produced. He always sent messages and photos when he got new stuff, and I bought a lot of sneakers from him. One day he asked if I wanted three pairs of ‘orange Air Max 90s’. A few hours later he sent me a photo. I just had a quick look – I was on my way to an appointment, so I was preoccupied. I left my house, and when I was on my way I realised which ‘orange ones’ they were. The problem was, I had no chance to get back to him until a few hours later. I think you know the end of the story: the shoes were sold already. By the way, the price was $600 for all three pairs together.
This interview was originally published in Sneaker Freaker Issue 28 and republished in The Ultimate Sneaker Book.