What if you fully reimagine an icon? Not just tinker with a few changes, but dream, develop and debut a completely new paradigm for how a seminal footwear silhouette looks and feels underfoot.
Bold and sleek, the Nike Air Max Dn marks a new generation in the footwear cushioning revolution that Nike began more than three decades ago, arriving with a reimagined platform for self-expression — and what it feels like to walk on Air.
Nike’s innovation, design, engineering and research teams were fixated on creating a shoe with an incomparable look and feel. The solution is the development of Dynamic Air.
Appearing for the first time in the Nike Air Max Dn, Dynamic Air is realized in a new dual-chamber, four-tubed Nike Air unit designed for unreal comfort, a smooth stride and max bounce. The dual-pressure air unit is comprised of two pressurized chambers, each with two tubes. The two chambers are specifically tuned with higher pressure in the back two tubes (15 psi) and lower pressure in the front two tubes (5 psi). As you move, air freely flows between the tubes in each chamber. This setup allows air to respond to the pressure as you move, delivering a smooth sensation with every step that isn’t just comfortable — it’s interactive.
“We call it ‘dynamic motion,’” says Reggie Hunter, Product Director for Nike Lifestyle Footwear. “The independent setup of the chambers means that the air unit can respond to the load of your body with each step. The feeling of heel-to-toe movement is seamless because the air unit is interacting in real time with your foot and moves with you. The Nike Air Max Dn was the first time we were able to unlock that feeling.”
From the start, the shoe was a collaborative effort between Nike designers, engineers and scientists at Nike Air Manufacturing Innovation (Air MI) and the Nike Sport Research Lab (NSRL) to create a more efficient Air system for comfort and motion. But they knew the feeling of Dynamic Air underfoot couldn’t be the shoe’s only hallmark. The look of the shoe had to be fresh, something Air Max lovers haven’t seen before.
Nike’s innovation teams built on more than three decades of Air Max science and cutting-edge methods of make to deliver an unprecedented feel in the Dn. Digital capabilities like Finite Element Analysis helped teams test the air unit more quickly and accurately before making prototypes for real-life testing in the lab. When testing the air unit’s durability, for instance, the team could digitally simulate a year’s worth of wear and tear on the shoe in just a few hours. Getting answers like these faster allowed the teams to gather athlete feedback even sooner, then continue the process: try, test, refine, repeat.
“Counterintuitively, these exacting methods of testing create more opportunities for us to be surprised,” says Kathy Gomez, Nike VP, NXT Footwear. “For example, in the Dn, you’d think the softest tube in terms of psi should go in the heel for crash landing and better transition. But actually, we found that transition was best when the firmest tube was under the heel and the softest was under the midfoot.”
Together, Nike teams obsessed every detail of the shoe to provide all-day comfort and style. A TPU shank arch clip provides structure and support around the midfoot, and a TPU heel counter supports the Achilles. Injected Phylon foam surrounds the air unit, providing comfort underfoot, while a street-ready rubber outsole wraps around the heel to provide traction and durability.
The upper also had to emote the dreamy, fluid feeling of that heel-to-toe transition. The material teams suggested using a modern textile featuring a haptic, textured overlay with a silicone finish. The air unit works in concert with every other shoe component, designed with the same level of innovation, science and research that goes into Nike’s elite performance shoes.
The result: a bold new Air Max model that disrupts and reimagines the future of Nike Air with each step.
“Ultimately, being disruptive enables you to create a new conversation,” says Hunter. “Being disruptive also opens the door for curiosity. If a generation of people who love Air Max are shocked by the Dn, we know we’re doing something right. But the reason we made Dn is less about appealing to a specific demographic and more about designing a shoe that people want to pick up, interact with it, learn about it and wear. And wear. And wear.”
For Gomez, these new conversations around a platform like Nike Air happen when a new shoe changes the game. The Nike Air Max Dn opens the door wide for Air Max’s next era.
“Dynamic Air raises our benchmark for what Air feels like,” says Gomez. “We’re always raising our expectations of what we can deliver for athletes. We’re using every tool at our disposal and every bit of our expertise to create new sensations with Air, while doing it more precisely. Maybe most important, we’re creating something that’s legitimately pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with comfort and motion. And this is just the beginning of the future of Air.”
The Nike Air Max Dn All Night colorway, and additional colorways, will release across nike.com and Nike retail in adult and youth sizes on March 26 as part of Air Max Week 2024. The Nike Air Max Dn All Day colorway will launch via SNKRS and select retailers. Follow SNKRS to learn more.