The Nike Air Force 1
As one of the most iconic models in the sneaker world, the Nike Air Force 1 is a classic known for its versatile style, comfortable fit and wide range of colorways. The basketball turned lifestyle sneaker is a favourite amongst celebrities and sneakerheads alike.
Bruce Kilgore was the young shoe designer who found a way to integrate Nike’s Air technology into a basketball sneaker, helping Nike to enter the basketball scene with the Nike Air Force 1. The tech worked on pressurised air in a bag that added to the sole’s elasticity, durability and flexibility.
The high-top sneaker, designed for intense action, featured a circular sole so that players could maintain their grip on the court. Just a year after the launch of the model, six top NBA players signed contracts with the brand to wear the high-top version on court.
Originally featuring a mesh side panel, toe box and mudguard, later versions saw this detail disappear. The original stitching on the side panels is also no longer present on the modern version of the AF1. One distinguishing feature that’s remained despite tweaks and variations to the model is the silver medallion at the bottom of the laces.
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The Nike Air Force 1 first released in 1982 as a high-top model. A year later, the AF1 Low was introduced to the market. But in 1984 the model was discontinued due to continuing innovation in other sectors of the sneaker world.
The popularity behind the AF1 drove Nike to reverse their decision to discontinue the model, bringing the shoe back into production a mere year later. The extension of its production was due to three Baltimore retailers (Charley Rudo Sports, Downtown Locker Room, and Cinderella Shoes) who convinced Nike to let them sell new and exclusive Air Force 1 colorways for them. This collaboration was one of the first between a sneaker shop and sneaker brand, and paved the way for now commonplace regional exclusive, limited product and Quickstrike release products.
The first 1,200 pairs sold out quickly, and more and more continued to fly off the shelves. The retailers asked Nike for a new colorway every month, and the citizens of Baltimore snapped them up. Soon people were making road trips from New York and D.C to the city just for the exclusive sneakers. The ‘Colour of the Month’ initiative was a huge success and signalled a big transition for the Air Force 1 into the fashion world.
During the 1990s, Nike released the all-white Air Force 1 Low-top, cementing the shoe’s status as a classic thanks to an existing inner-city fanbase. The model continued to sell increasingly well as Nike released limited, special edition and premium designs regularly.
In the early 2000s, the Air Force 1 became a fashion staple in the music industry. Rappers like Jay-Z, Nelly and G-Unit gave the model shout-outs in some of their hit singles, and Nike created a huge range of signature AF1s for everyone from Fat Joe to Roc-a-Fella Records.
For the silhouette’s 35th anniversary in 2017, Nike collaborated with Off-White, Roc-a-Fella, Just Don, Travis Scott and Acronym to create five white-on-white colorways. These releases were hugely popular, especially the Off-White x Air Force 1 Low by Virgil Abloh which featured a metallic silver Swoosh.
Upon release, the Nike Air Force 1 Low and Mid normally retail between €100-120, while the Nike Air Force 1 High normally retails for €130-140.
Generally, Air Force 1s run a little big, so you may need to size down half a size. However, the mid and high versions do fit tighter than the low silhouette.