The release of a new silhouette for any retailer is risky business. The market is saturated with sneakers of all shapes and sizes, making it difficult to create a lasting impression. At the top of 2018, Nike put fear aside and debuted its new Air Max 270. The shoe resembles sneakers from the early ’90s having a similar pointed toe box as the Air Max 1 with a running-inspired rear. The success of its predecessors, the Air Max 180 and Air Max 93, was not promised for this newcomer but yet it has dominated in a way only comparable to the ever-loved Air VaporMax.
Unlike the Air VaporMax, the Air Max 270 doesn’t share the innovation or sleek aesthetic that usually draws shoppers to a sneaker. Its colorways are pulled from the existing Swoosh palette that fans have seen. At first glance it’s hard to tell why this shoe has become one of the most popular releases as of late.
Why exactly is the Air Max 270 the shoe of the moment? We take a closer look at its ascent into grail status.
The Air Max 270 is named for the 270 degrees of air seen within its Air Max Unit. This Air Max Unit happens to be the tallest to date offering impact absorption that supports the up-and-down movement of the foot. Its upper is a mixture of mesh and dual-density foam creating a comfortable lifestyle shoe that can be worn all day long. Abandoning the idea of merging two retro sneakers, the 270 is an all-new form, a fact that Senior Creative Director Dylan Raasch is particularly proud of.
To build hype, the shoe was introduced simply with photos of its many colorways being teased days before each drop. There was no big name celebrity behind the shoe or even an athlete to endorse the form. Internet influencers instead are tapped to star in its campaign. Visual artist Sanam (who you may recognize from Rihanna‘s “Bitch Better Have My Money” video) and comedian Jay Versace posed in the campaign which was presented in patchwork collages. Neither Sanam or Jay have traditional style and this is where the secret of Nike’s genius is revealed. The Air Max 270 represents an alternative lifestyle that sits at the intersection between comfort and art. This largely appeals to the next generation that is embracing difference and asking for more from brands and retailers.
Stylists and sneakerheads alike quickly took to the new silhouette, pairing it with trendy items like track suits and fanny packs further extending its reach. Like fire, it has quickly spread and become a must-have sneaker.
Another factor that contributed to 270’s popularity is the gender-full marketing approach. From the very beginning, women were included in the launch of a shoe, something that is rare for the sneaker market. As Nike looks to capture the attention of ladies with women-exclusive colorways and capsules such as the Air Jordan 1 “Season of Her” range and “The 1 Reimagined” collection, we get to see just how powerful the force of female is. Usually, a large selection of hues confuses the shoppers and decreases interest, but the launch of the 270 proved this point to be wrong.
The shoe has been revealed in black, pink and everything in between showcasing its allure and overall ability to sell well. Nike has proven that innovation and inclusive imagery are the key to a viral hit. The Air Max 270 has become the prime example of how to establish footwear in a crowded industry. Competitors should take note.