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Nike has spared no expense when it comes to celebrating one of its most iconic shoe designs. The Air Max Con was organized to celebrate the third annual Air Max Day on March 26th; in addition to New York, the brand is also holding conferences in Hong Kong and Tokyo. The event space is massive and you can walk through a series of stations in different rooms to get intimate with the history of the shoe.
The genius in this Nike event is how it's been shaped for the fans. The brand has realized the culture and community that has formed around sneakers and are taking advantage of it by building hype around one of their top shoes, both past and future versions of it. This starts with the event staff's first suggested room, The Air Max Vault, which features the top 100 Air Max models as selected by Nike. The versions are arranged in a series of tubes — or bubbles, if you will — on one wall and feature the each sneaker's backstory.
After perusing the selection, attendees are allowed to vote for their favorite, and the shoe with the most votes will be announced at the end of the weekend and re-released on Air Max Day next year. Once you submit your entry, you get an enamel pin with a rainbow Air Max and the phrase "I Voted." (It's something Hillary Clinton should consider making a part of her campaign if she's really about the millennial vote.)
The top vote-getters as of last night were the Atmos Elephant, the Warhawk, and the Lunar Moon Landing designs. Not only are these designs iconic, but they're also quite rare, routinely fetching thousand-dollar bids on eBay.
The next section, "The H-T-M Room," also combines the triumvirate of fan interaction, history-telling, and marketing. Inspired by designers Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Nike CEO Mark Parker, it features a tube dedicated to each one of these influencers and allows fans to step inside and take a selfie. It's a clever way to involve fans in the hype leading up to the latest release of sneakers designed by — wouldn't you know it — Fujiwara, Hatfield, and Parker.
The event also includes all sorts of treats across the way. If you've been touched by inspiration after looking through the top 100 Air Maxes, you'll have the opportunity to design one of your very own at the NikeID Studio. But if you trust that Tinker, Hiroshi, and Mark probably have a better handle on this than you do, there's also the SNKRS store to shop recent releases.
Other freebies include a station where you can get Kith Treat cereal boxes inspired by and named after the shoes, and another for manicures by MP Nails, which has wraps and polishes lifted from the shoe's designs. One of the favorites was a shoe polish station with a slight twist — staffers used specialized cleaning materials, brushes, and towels to make your sneakers as good as deadstock. It's a small thing, but it's just more evidence to the fact that the sneaker is king in every way here.
Fans of the Air Max — or of sneakers in general — will obviously be entranced here, but anyone who cares about the way clothes interact with people and culture will get a kick out of this (pun intended). One of the Air Max's most prolific collectors, who goes by Iceberg, told us last night that he started collecting the sneakers after the Berlin Wall was torn down. "We had never seen beautiful shoes before," the German native said. "And the Air Max is a beautiful shoe."
Nike Air Max Con is open to the public on Thursday, March 24th and Friday, March 25th from 2pm to 10pm and on Saturday, March 26th from 12pm to 8pm.