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The Nike Air Max Plus captures a mood you can feel, and the Kids’ Nike Air Max Plus lets young fans of this iconic style get into the game as well.

From Florida with Love

Nike’s Air Max line of running shoes kicked off with the “Air Revolution” of 1987. That was the first time that fans of the game-changing Max Air cushioning system could actually see the air that had been absorbing impact since its debut in 1978. The original Air Max — later known as the Air Max I — was so popular that the release of subsequent models became anticipated events. 

Fast-forward to 1998 and the debut of the Air Max Plus, a shoe specially designed to be sold at Foot Locker. Designer Sean McDowell drew inspiration for the upper from the waving palm trees on the beaches of his native Florida. Several of the available colorways carry on that vibe, with subtle gradients reminiscent of an ocean sunset.

The beach imagery didn’t stop there. The shank — that’s the plate under the midfoot that supports your foot against excessive twisting — is modeled after a whale’s tail, a breathtaking image not unfamiliar to beachgoers. 

Natural Look with High Technology

McDowell didn’t just design a beautiful shoe. As a runner himself, he also knew the importance of functionality. That’s why he developed Nike’s Max Air cushioning into Tuned Air (still abbreviated as Tn by streetwear fans), a two-piece placement of Max Air that adjusts as your stride rolls through it. The shoe weighs in at just 12 ounces, which was light at the time for a running shoe with a polyurethane midsole.

No detail escaped McDowell, including moving hits of reflectivity from the back of the shoe to the front. It made no sense, he reasoned, for reflectivity to be at the back when runners are always taught to run toward traffic for safety and visibility.

Kids Sold it

Youth played a key role in marketing the shoe. According to McDowell, a Foot Locker executive came up with the idea of simply setting the shoe out on display right after school let out. It wasn’t long before kids, freed from their daily studies, began studying the Air Max Plus, practically begging to know what it was and how to buy it.