The Air Max Plus, known as the ‘TN’ for its Tuned Air technology, is one of the biggest cult favourites in Nike history. A combination of steep pricing and distinctive design meant the shoe was always destined for great things and/or infamy. Among its legions on fans are diehard experts who can recite even the craziest little-known facts, design details and brand history; but a recent article published on Nike News reveals TN factoids not even the most dedicated heads would know.
Speaking with Sean McDowell, the model’s designer, Nike dive into the TN’s origin story.
‘I hung out on the Florida beaches and just thought and sketched — it was one of my most creative times. One evening, it was turning to dusk, so the very blue sky was starting to fade to dark blue, and the palm trees were blowing in the wind. I sketched that out, and I thought, “It could make a quarter panel, like you could hold your foot down with those palm trees.”’
Later, after securing a job at Nike, McDowell began working on a model known at the time as the ‘Sky Air’. The name triggered memories of the sunset he had sketched in Florida, prompting him to set to work on applying it to a shoe.
Nuances in the sneaker's design are accredited to McDowell’s inexperience at Nike, such as not having an exact template to draw the Swoosh. ‘No one had given me any guidance because it was my first few days. The shape is a little bit off, and I put the border on the inside, when technically all the brand guidelines say to go outside.’
The article teems with other interesting facts and insights, touching on reflective detailing, tech borrowed from the Jordan 12, the design's incorporation of a whale tail, and a retro runner integral to the mesh fade.
You can read all about it here.