20 Years Later, the Complete HUF x Nike Air Max 1 Collection is Here

HUF’s creative director Romeo Tanghal breaks down how the duo dedicated the three-pair project to the “real heads.”

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In 2004, HUF connected with Nike for the first of its many collaborations to date. The partnership assembled just two years after HUF was established as a retail space in San Francisco, making its mark on the scene with its curation of hard-to-find brands and involvement in the local skate community. HUF founder Keith Hufnagel took advantage of the opportunity to work with the Swoosh by first customizing the Air Max 1 — his favorite shoe, and one that inspired his own signature skate models like the DVS HUF 4.

The HUF x Nike Air Max 1 ignited excitement from sneakerheads across the country by combining the grays of San Francisco’s fog and the concrete of the city’s streets with HUF’s signature “Pear Green.” Current HUF creative director Romeo Tanghal was a teenager growing up in New Jersey at the time, but to this day, he remembers how impressive it was to see a brand from out West represented on the shelves of stores in New York City.

However, it’s not just the “Pear Green” pair that has captivated collectors for decades. Die-hard fans have searched high and low for the “Brilliant Orange” and “Pink Pow” colorways — both of which are pictured above alongside the other OG HUF x Nike Air Max 1s — samples that were assembled before Hufnagel and the crew decided to go with green. The former was crafted as an homage to the San Francisco Giants, while the latter was simply an experiment with a fun pop of color.

After two decades — and an endless stream of requests from Air Max collectors — all three pairs are releasing to the world. On top of addressing the overwhelming demand, Tanghal is eager to bring this story to a new generation of sneakerheads while also finally making the previously-unreleased sample “unicorn shoes” accessible to all.

Despite it being a pure bring back, it was harder than you might think to faithfully recreate the designs — Tanghal even noted that they had to grab an original pair off of eBay for reference. It was even tougher with the orange and pink pairs as only about four of each “unicorn shoe” is thought to exist, though one collector does have both. “Keith had held onto the samples for the longest time, but with him being so chill, if a collector was persistent enough, he would realize that they wanted the pair more than he did,” Tanghal reminisced.

With all three colorways successfully recreated — including every element from the precise coloring to materials like the cracked leather found at the mudguard — the HUF team decided to put one twist on the sneakers: co-branding, a detail that Nike didn’t allow in 2004. When the team had the opportunity this time around, they mocked it up with HUF’s original vintage logo combined with a Swoosh and loved it — a touch that Tanghal noted makes the shoe feel more “personal.”

Outside of the sneakers themselves, the team enjoyed putting together a special ensemble with its packaging and unique pendant, the latter of which nods to Bones, Keith Hufnagel’s beloved Chihuahua, who’d often be found sitting in shoe boxes at the first HUF shop. “These special details are an ode to the original store and what it brought to sneaker culture in San Francisco,” Tanghal said. Flipping the classic orange and tan box design that Nike used in 2002 with HUF’s signature green in place of the orange, while also applying their co-branding to the exterior, each pair is unboxed with a distinctly-retro feel.

“Our crew is full of sneakerheads and we grew up on forums like NikeTalk, so we wanted to give a nod to that era.”

No attention to detail was spared underneath the lid, as a special tissue paper features throwback imagery of the original HUF store’s lineup, a portrait of Bones and a true HUF deep cut: an iconic shot of Lance Mountain in his bee costume alongside Bones and Keith Hufnagel standing outside the store together. Bones’ involvement doesn’t stop there either as he has been remembered with a special silver pendant that is included with each pair. Additionally, he serves as the spokesperson of the project, appearing in both the campaign video and on the “HUFTalk” forum — where he is the moderator of the fictional platform created by the brand for both its social media rollout and the microsite created for the online sale of the shoes. “Our crew is full of sneakerheads and we grew up on forums like NikeTalk, so we wanted to give a nod to that era,” Tanghal remarked.

The brief video is shot completely from the perspective of Hufnagel’s furry Chihuahua — from him descending the stairs of his bed to stepping onto his private jet for flights to Tokyo and Los Angeles. Aside from highlighting the sneakers, a myriad of references to HUF are included with a callback to Lance Mountain’s bee costume, Bones having his own shoe box to sleep in and the inclusion of several other pieces of Air Max history that HUF was involved in.

“There’s another pair coming as well,” teased Tanghal. “It’s going to be super rare and it has some nods to other shoes that we’ve done.” Based on what info has been made available so far, this pair will be a numbered F&F-exclusive, which Tanghal implied will sport references to both the F&F version of the OG “Pear Green” that carried the San Francisco skyline at its heel and was limited to 24 pairs, as well as 2007’s Air Max 1 “Hufquake,” which appears in the campaign video alongside other throwback HUF x Nike collabs, like the duo’s SB Dunk High from 2004.

“You don’t know how many DMs that we’ve been getting in the past year, all asking if these pairs are actually coming out. People have been waiting forever for these and we’re so glad we could finally make it happen for the people,” Tanghal concluded.

 

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Release for the entire HUF x Nike Air Max 1 collection begins on June 15 via HUF with pairs priced at $160 USD each. HUF Japan is set to carry both the green and pink pairs while its stateside storefronts will carry all three. A wider release will then take place on June 22 with Nike SNKRS and select retailers carrying the green pair and only North American stores stocking the orange one.

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