Rare is the shoe design that stands the test of time. True classics are those that endure; these are the fads that become standards.
Did you know that the Steelers are getting a black Nike Air Force for their 2022 season?
Both dedicated sneakerheads and the general public often don a Nike Air Force shoe. Despite widespread disdain from youth culture and sneakerhead elites, Nike’s best-selling sneakers are traditionally white leather models like the dad-friendly Air Monarch range. The Nike Air Force 1 in its most famous style—low-cut and all-white—is one of the few pairs of shoes that may successfully bridge the gap between the two cultures.
So, keep on reading to learn the five key things that encompass the beauty that is Nike Air Force 1 shoes.
1. The Debut of The Nike Air Force Shoe
The shoe was originally thought of as a hiking boot-inspired, ankle–strapped high top.
But, its popularity skyrocketed with the introduction of the Air Force 1 Low, which introduced the plush, springy cushioning of Nike Air to the courts. The “Original Six,” a group of the six finest NBA players of their period, were given exclusive contracts to wear the Nike Air Force 1 shortly after its release in 1982.
Despite the fact that it had amassed a devoted fan base, Nike’s Air Force 1 was slated for retirement in 1984 since the company’s more cutting-edge models had taken over the market.
Thankfully, a group of sneaker stores in Baltimore intervened and worked with Nike to create unique Air Force 1 versions as part of an innovative “Color of the Month” club. This club attracted collectors from all across the United States.
2. Equating Nike Air Force Shoes With Hip Hop
Since 1988 up till the current day, Air Force 1 sneakers have been virtually universally recognized as being associated with hip hop.
It was in 1988 that the Nike Air Force 1 trainers that had been modified by the famed Harlem designer Dapper Dan made their first appearance on the cover of E-Z Rock’s album It Takes Two. This was the year that marked the beginning of the “golden era” of hip hop. The debut of all-white, all-leather Lows, often known as “white on whites,” served to further strengthen the popularity of the sneaker among the Hip Hop community.
3. The AF1 Spreads Around the World in the 2000s
Air Force 1 (AF1) was once a phenomenon in the United States, but it has since spread over the world.
Let’s explore two examples of successful Nike air force shoes that truly melted design with culture.
Nike Air Force 1 Low Ueno Sakura
Throughout the early 2000s, Nike’s co.jp initiative launched numerous highly anticipated Air Force 1s, contributing to Japan’s burgeoning sneakerhead culture.
This particular pair of 2005 Nike Air Force 1 Ueno Sakura samples was produced in a very small quantity. The Ueno Sakura is one of the Japan-exclusive pairs that is sought after the most. It was only made in a limited amount and was designed to pay homage to the famous Ueno area of Tokyo. Uppers made of Light Bone suede and embellished with a laser-etched cherry blossom design look fantastic when paired with outsoles in Watermelon Pink.
The Nike Swoosh is missing from the one panel upper of this sample pair, making it much more noticeable.
‘1WORLD KAWS’ x NIKE AIR FORCE 1 LOW
In 2008, Nike capitalized on the worldwide popularity of the Air Force 1.
The AF1 got a fresh look for the 1World series thanks to the efforts of 18 artists from all around the globe, including renowned graffiti artist KAWS. Popular in the New York graffiti movement of the 1990s, KAWS is popular for his Pop-influenced “subvertising,” parodying political and corporate marketing.
As the first Nike KAWS collaboration, the KAWS Air Force 1 has a minimalistic but eye-catching redesign by the artist. The Nike KAWS Air Force 1 is a top AF1 design by collectors due to its characteristic ‘XX’ stitching and matching neon embellishments.
4. 2017: The Year of Reimagined “White on White”
Nike celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Air Force 1 by commissioning five artists to reinterpret the shoe’s signature white-on-white color scheme.
These artists included Travis Scott, Don C, Acronym, Kareem ‘Biggs’ Burke, and, most famously, Off White’s Virgil Abloh.
Virgil Abloh’s Design
Virgil Abloh’s deconstructed take on the silhouette, the Off White Air Force 1 Low, was an instant hit.
The distinctive Air Force 1 Off Whites would continue to drop in a number of colorways over the years, including this edition in University Gold and Metallic Silver, which was released to coincide with Abloh’s ‘Figures of Speech’ exhibit at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art.
5. Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Nike Air Force 1
Virgil Abloh, the new Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, worked with Nike to create 47 unique pairs of AF1 sneakers that were worn on the Spring/Summer 2022 Louis Vuitton catwalk show. This was done in celebration of the AF1’s 40th anniversary.
The designs pay respect to the sneaker’s basic basketball and street aspects while also taking influence from the ‘re-fashion’ process used by Dapper Dan and the luxurious materials used in the Nike Air Force 1 L.
These all-leather Air Force 1s designed by Virgil Abloh include the iconic Monogram and Damier designs from Louis Vuitton, and they are finished off with natural cowhide piping. These are part of a limited run of just 200 pairs totaling the whole production.
Nike Shoes Air Force 1: Observing an Industry Giant
You can’t put an end to the real thing, though. Nike didn’t stop making Air Force lows in the early 1980s, and the classic Nike Air Force shoe, white-on-white colorway hasn’t left stores around the world in over two decades.
The AF1 is still a cornerstone of footwear’s history and future, and it doesn’t need commercials to remind people of that. We hope that our guide with the top five facts on Nike Air Force 1 shoes has given you a solid foundation on one of the most beloved sneakers across the globe.
Next, you’ll want to learn how to care for your sneakers and how to style them. You can do so by checking out our fashion section.