As avid supporters and participants in the culture, it’s hard to deny Nike’s presence when retrospecting our love for sneakers. Air Maxes, Air Jordans, Trainers- the catalog is endless. But one of the most highly praised models, even comparing shoes from other brands, has undoubtedly become the Nike Air Force 1. At almost 30 years old, the first Nike basketball shoe to feature an Air unit took some time to gain popularity, but since has transcended courts to the closets and feet of people across the world to become a global icon in footwear.
The Air Force 1 was first created in 1982 by Bruce Kilgore, with inspiration taken from the US President’s airplane, Air Force One. Though it was a pioneer for basketball footwear, being the first of its kind to integrate Nike Air technology, it was in fact discontinued the following year of its debut. It was until 1986 when the AF1 was endorsed by The Original 6 that gave the shoe creditability and true basketball roots.
Though there are three variations of the AF1- low, mid and high cut- the low has becoming the prevalent image synonymous to the AF1 name. Though the very first version featured canvas medial panels, this 1983 production, believed to have been a scrapped sample right before the discontinuation, gives the closest insight to the birth of the infamous AF1. Notice the sheen leather that is certainly no longer seen on recent releases. But more importantly is the difference in the Nike branding on the heel tab. Notice the letters are non italicized and is missing the Swoosh. Furthermore, the popular lace lock wasn’t present until the last decade. Remember that even the finishing is different from today’s releases, as each panel’s edges are now rolled for a more streamline look.
The color blocking reminds us of how classic a simple colorway can be; a notion that has only been revived in the last two years or so from a bombardment of multi-uxuberant colorways. However the Air Force 1 has seen its share of designs, as its received over 1,700 color combinations since its debut. A foundation for many of the most exclusive and coveted pairs of sneakers the culture has seen, we reckon the AF1 will continue to hold its ground as one of the top sneakers of all time for another 25 years.