The One And Only Air Force 1.
Perfect to complete the high end fashion look. A staple in every sneakerhead’s wardrobe. A festival essential. Basically part of the family, its the one and only Air Force 1.
The all time, must have shoe. This is one shoe that almost everyone in England knows the name of - the Air Force 1. This shoe is is definitely one of the most iconic Nike shoes of all time. With a reign of over 35 years, one of their highest selling products and available in over 1800+ colourways, it is a shoe that is truly timeless.
Today, I am going to be telling you all about the AF1, how it has become the icon shoe that it now is and naming my top 5 Air Force of all time.
THE AIR FORCE 1 DESIGN:
Today we look at the AF1 as a simple shoe. As far as technology in footwear goes but at the time it released it was revolutionary. The AF1 is a basketball shoe and before the shoe was released, people had been hooping in blazers and other Nike shoes that were very merciless on the feet and ankles.
The AF1’s main feature was the thick midsole, it was over one and a half inches and needed to be this thick so the air bags could sit in there making the impact for ballers a lot less harsh. The midsole is one of the most significant features and the use of the words ”air” on the side, disguising the thickness of the sole, and becoming one of the iconic statements on the shoe. The sides of the shoe were made up of mesh instead of leather, making them more breathable and lighter.
Another iconic AF1 feature that distinguishes them from a lot of other shoes are the air holes on the toe box, there are 34 of them and they allow the shoe to breath better. The ankle strap only found on the high tops, at the time the strap helped a lot to stop ballers from rolling their ankles and just gave added support all round.
HISTORY OF THE AF1
The long reign and history of the AF1 nearly didn’t happen! As with most Nike shoes, they only released them for a couple of years then they would cease manufacturing and focus on a new model. Nike did just this and stopped the production of the Air Force, and if it wasn’t for the three amigos, then I probably wouldn’t even be talking about the iconic shoe now.
The three amigos were three separate Baltimore sport shoes retailers and they knew about the love for the Air Force first-hand. They all agreed to order 1200 of each colour, which was crazy at the time. These three stores along with two more, one in New York and one in Philadelphia, were the only places you could buy AF1’s and it didn’t take long for the sneaker heads to find out and travel great distances to get their hands on a pair or two, or even three.
Although the AF1 is a world-wide renowned shoe, New York is definitely the home of the AF1. In America the shoe is known as the “Uptown”. The name comes from the fact that to buy a pair at first you would have to travel uptown to a sport shops called Jewman’s. At the time,Nike didn’t advertise the shoes much so if you saw someone in NY wearing them people would ask and if you were lucky, they would say “Uptown” the name stuck.
Today there are so many collaborations including street artists, hip hop artists, sneaker stores, skate stores and so many more I couldn’t even name them if I tried. And they’re often a customisers favourite canvas, transforming the AF1 into a work of art.
MY TOP 5 FORCES
Narrowing them down to five was a very hard task as there are just so many great colours, the dream one day is to be able to wear a different pair every day of the year! The five are in no particular order, they’re just ones that I love.
AF1 COLLAB WITH KAWS
The first is a collaboration with New York street artist “Kaws”. Kaws most popular Nike shoes are the recent Jordan IV’s that he released in 2017, the super limited numbers made these one of the most hyped shoes of 2017, but most people think that the Jordan was the first time Nike and Kaws paired up. How wrong they are. Kaws is famous for his street art and his take on modern pop culture cartoons such as The Simpsons, Mickey Mouse and many more. Nearly all his artwork contains the signature XX where the eyes should be. In 2008 Nike let 18 innovators create their own Air Force in a project called 1World Project. The Kaws pair were a very simplistic but yet eye-catching and luxurious pair. He matched the black nubuck upper perfectly with the volt laces and the outsole. The main feature I love is the way the toebox stitching is exaggerated with this crisscross stitching and how they are all in black apart from the last two “X’s” which are in volt. This shoe is very hard to find now, and the street price is around 1-2k.
2. The Borough Pack
The next is not one Air Force but is a pack of five. The Borough Pack pays homage to the “home” of the AF1, the Big Apple. New York has 5 boroughs, the Bronx, Manhattan. Staten island, Brooklyn and Queens. The materials used take their inspiration from their varsity jackets. The wool they used along with the standard white panels just make for the perfect match. My favourite out of the pack is the “Bronx” the blue and red just work well and these are such a clean shoe.
3. AF1 COLLAB WITH MR. CARTOON
My third favourite AF is a collaboration between Nike and an artist called Mr. Cartoon. He is a street and tattoo artist, arguably one of the most famous tattoo artists from LA, doing work on celebs from Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Lewis Hamilton and even Freddie Ljungberg. He first bought out an AF shoe in a classic blue grey and white colour way, but this was a friends and family pack. He then released a yellow and black version in partnership with Nike and Livestrong charity. The Livestrong version is similar in style by using the same methods of laser etching to achieve the fine details. However, this version is a lot more special in my eyes as the designs are more eye-catching and the spider web on the toe box is just a great representation of LA Tattoo culture along with the skulls on the side panel.
4. AF1 X PlayStation created by Sony
My fourth AF is not only one of my top Air Force but is also one of my “Holy Grails” to own, and one day I will. The collaboration this time is with the gaming giants PlayStation created by Sony. There are only 150 pairs of this shoe and they were gifted to employees of Sony prior to the release of the PlayStation 3 in 2006. The reason I love this shoe is not just the PlayStation branding on it but also the patent leather just contrasts perfectly with the white swoosh and midsole. Patent leather is one of those “marmite” materials and personally I love patent leather on shoes and on these it is even better because one panel fades from black to light blue.
5. DIGITAL CAMO Air Force One
The reason I love the Digital Camo Air Force One is not only the crazy 3m reflective pattern but also the fact that this shoe is so durable it’s a joke. I owned this pair in 2012, they were one of the first pairs I owned that got me into the whole sneaker community. Since then, they have been on 4 messy holidays, a fair amount of festivals and countless raves and they’re still here to tell the story. The pair was made in 2012 which was the 30th anniversary of the AF and Nike released untold amounts of great pairs but for me this pair is special, when the lights hit the 3m they just glow amazingly like a shooting star.
I hope I have enlightened you on the history of the Air Force Ones and now you see why the deserve to be the icon that they are today.