words // Luis Sanchez

Over twenty years ago, Tinker Hatfield brought to life one of the most iconic running shoes of all time in what is now known as the Air Max '90. While the legendary runner originally known as the Air Max III by Nike is widely recognized for it's one of a kind sleek silhouette, the Air Max '90 would never be as loved if it wasn't for it's original color scheme that's still being emulated today by Nike Sportswear.

Now dubbed the "Infrared" edition, the original Air Max '90 went through a variety of red hues before reaching the vibrant look we've all grown to love today. The original Air Max III made it's debut back in 1990 with "Hyvent Orange" bringing them to life, while today's Hyperfuse Air Max '90 sports a true "Infrared" hue almost 23 years later.

With the "Infrared" Air Max 90 Hyperfuse officially hitting this weekend, let's take a historical look back at the life of the Air Max '90 that started it all.


The Air Max III / Air Max '90 made its offiicial debut back in 1990 with "Hyvent Orange" bringing the iconic look to life. While they are widely recognized by their "Infrared" nickname nowadays, the original Air Max '90 never actually sported a true Infrared hue.


Following their debut release back in 1990, the original Air Max 90 went unseen for almost 12 years. The 2002 release of the Air Max '90 was the closest we've ever been to an original pair, utilizing "Mx Orange" as their key accent color. The "Mx Orange" Air Max '90 was said to be an Australia only release back in 2002.


The 2003 European & Asia exclusive version of the original Air Max '90 was the first ever to officially sport "Infrared." Although they do appear identical to the naked eye, the 2003 AM '90 tones down the use of orange and sports the more pink look we've grown used to with the "Infrared" Air Max '90. The 2003 edition was also the last version to utilize the OG large heel Air unit.

image via: DefyNY

2005 - History of Air


The 2005 Air Max '90 was released as part of the History of Air Collection. They were the first official retro release of the "Infrared" Air Max '90 in the states, and grew to new levels of popularity following this release. The 2005 HOA version was the first to utilize the smaller heel Air unit, but is still loved by fans for their nearly identical shape to the 1990 OG.

2006 - One Time Only

Back in 2006, the Swoosh took things to the next level with the "One TIme Only" Pack. The limited collection featured all original Air Max silhouettes with a 360 Max Air tooling below. Although the 360 Air unit is usually a hit, it's appearance on the classic Air Max '90 was a miss in the eyes of many fans.

2008 - Premium Ostrich

2008 brought us a new twist on the original Air Max '90, with Nike Sportswear using a combination of premium materials on the unique runner. A premium nubuck, suede and mesh brought to life the familar look for the Air Max '90, with an ostrich mudguard setting them apart from past releases.

2008 - Current

The Air Max '90 Current provided fans with a modern take on the classic Air Max '90, recreating their popular color scheme with some of Nike's latest performance innovations at the time. The Air Max '90 Current utilized a full mesh build, with an updated Nike FREE Air Max '90 tooling below.

2008 & 2010

The Air Max '90 made a return to retail in original form back in 2008, and most recently in 2010. The well received retro releases by Nike Sportswear were identical to past versions, with the exception of a smaller heel Air unit and a shade of Infrared that's a bit more pink.

2012 - Hyperfuse

22 years later, the original colorway of the Air Max '90 is as popular as it's ever been. This past weekend continued their storied legacy, with the much anticipated release of the "Infrared" Air Max '90 Hyperfuse. The innovative take on the classic was a huge hit, immediately selling out at retailers across the country.

image via: Size?

What's next? - 2013

Already one of several anticipated releases expected next year from Nike Sportswear, 2013 will bring us the original Air Max '90 sporting NSW's signature "VNTG" detailing. NSW brings to life the classic runner with a true to the OG shape, slightly darker grey suede, and a pre-yellowed vintage Air Max sole. Look for the Air Max '90 VNTG to hit retailers next spring.

image via HS