These days, aging in the sneaker game has got me feeling some kind of way.
The youthful spirit inside of me cries, “Oooh look, shiny things! Another new colourway of a classic J has just released.”
The aging sneakerhead within uses the voice of reason and says, “Nike Air Max and Nike Air Safari are a happy medium between aging gracefully in the sneaker game and subtly flexing on the day to day.
Let’s delve into two of my most worn Nike trainers using five distinct categories.
5). Normie Status
1). Lineage- Air Max 1
1987 was a crazy year for swoosh based releases. Some of the headliners from the Grad Class of 87 include the Air Max 1, Air Safari, Air Trainer 1, Air Force 2, and the Air Pegasus.
The Air Max 1 headlines as 1987’s Grad Class valedictorian. Designed by Tinker Hatfield and inspired by the inside out architecture of the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Air Max 1 is often regarded as Nike’s piece de resistance. The AM 1 is a successful blend of visible air bubble technology and classic fashion forward design. The AM 1 remains at the forefront of relevancy today.
The Air Safari is no slouch either. Also designed by Tinker Hatfield, the Air Safari represents the movement of luxury status goods to the masses. Inspired by a lavish ostrich skinned sofa at a high-end furniture store, Tinker Hatfield sought to bring the same level of couture to footwear. The OG Air Safari features a plush leather toe box reminiscent of the aforementioned sofa and is marketed as a casual, less tech-oriented sneaker.
Lineage Advantage: Air Max 1
2). Price/Availability- Air Max 1
At retail pricing, both the Air Max 1 and Air Safari are reasonably priced. However, exclusive AM 1 collaborations with the likes of sneaker elite Atmos, Patta, and Parra give the Air Max 1 more clout amongst most sneakerheads.
What separates the AM 1 and the Air Safari is availability. General release Air Max 1s can be found at most sporting good retailers, chain stores, and boutiques, while the Air Safari is usually only available at select retailers and boutiques.
Price/Availability Advantage: Air Max 1. Unless of course you are a bit of a sneaker snob and don’t want too many people rocking the same pair of kicks that you are rocking.
3). Comfort- Air Max 1
Step in comfort for the AM 1 and Air Safari is pretty decent for a shoe designed in 1987. Both of these respective models feel much differently than Boost or React cushioning, which tends to be much softer and have a more pronounced energy return.
For a flat-footed biped like myself, I actually prefer a firmer midsole for all day wear, so both the AM 1 and the Air Safari are a great match for my feet.
The AM 1 has more arch support and a more comfortable midsole than the Air Safari.
However, the Air Safari has less offset and rake than the AM 1 and slopes less from the heel to toe transition.
I’d give a slight nod to the AM 1 for all day comfort.
Comfort Advantage: Air Max 1
4). Appearance- Air Safari
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I behold is simplistic beauty in the Air Safari’s silhouette.
What the Air Safari offers is a clean, air bubble free midsole, combined with a multi-layered upper that exhibits potential for unlimited multi-textured applications. The Air Safari offers textured laser cut Safari leather and blends it seamlessly with multiple hued leathers to form a classy and timeless silhouette.
Appearance Advantage: Air Safari
5). Normie Status- Air Safari
The term Normie is occasionally used by the Sneakerphiles Podcast crew and makes reference to an average Joseph who purchases general release sneakers from the likes of a big box sporting good store. A Normie might not care about specific technical features or be into sneaker culture per se, but their sheer population and purchasing power should not be overlooked.
Call me a caviar eating, fur wearing sneakerhead, but I like to have fly and unique sneakers. With less of a big box store presence, the Air Safari silhouette is rarely an accidental or casual purchase. In comparison, the Air Max 1 in a general release colourway, is prime for a Normie purchase.
Normie (avoidance) Advantage: Air Safari
So whoomp there it is, the Air Max 1 takes the Air Safari in a close 3-2 battle. So does this mean we should purchase the Air Max 1 over the Air Safari?
Given a forced singular sneaker choice, I would choose the AM1 over the Air Safari. But we all know that variety is a sneakerhead’s spice of life, and it really depends on what kind of caviar and fur you like when you are wearing your fly and unique kicks.