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Nike Reinvigorates The Air Force 1 With AF-100 Celebrations In Chicago And Beijing

By John Kim
The Air Force 1 never needed a reintroduction, but Nike took it upon itself to breathe some fresh oxygen into its most heralded classic. Designed by Bruce Kilgore in 1982 as a basketball shoe, the AF1 has since become the pioneer of sneaker culture while serving as a meeting point for creatives who value originality and tell their own stories in distinct ways. As part of a year-long Anniversary celebration of the shoe, the brand tasked five pioneers of fashion and music to reinterpret the thirty-five year old sneaker for the majestic AF-100 Collection; Virgil Abloh, Don C, Errolson Hugh, Travis Scott, and Kareem “Biggz” Burke” each responded to the challenge by producing one of the year’s most talked-about collection of shoes.
Beyond these limited edition collaborations, Nike extended the canvas to consumers with design workshops at Complex Con, Chicago, and Berlin. Never before has a brand offered this level of experiential opportunity with sneakers, but this immersive style, seen in the OFF CAMPUS events as well as the Space Camp for Tom Sachs’ Mars Yard shoe, has been an incredible strategy.

In Chicago, Nike joined forces with Don C’s RSVP boutique for the AF-100 Gallery, a four-day pop-up experience in Wicker Pack. Those who came through to the space were treated with the rare opportunity to participate in a Maker’s Studio, a special DIY customization class that produced some impressive designs by the public. Virgil Abloh, a native of the city, was also on hand to meet and greet fans. Some key AF1 releases inspired by the Windy City were also on display such as the Air Force 1 Mid LE “Chi Town” and much more. Finally, a live performance by Travis Scott send the energy to overdrive as he took the stage while showcasing his first-ever collaboration with Nike.

On the other side of the globe, the city of Beijing also hosted its own event for the rabid AF1 fans of the Far East. Several programs were lined up for consumers, such as an insightful discussion panel featuring Hiroshi Fujiwara, Edison Chen, Errolson Hugh, Kim Kioric, as well as a FORCE is FEMALE talk. A “Canvas Of The Game” Air Force 1 Workshop also opened up the DIY customization opportunity free of charge to those who registered for the festivities beforehand or wore the shoes to the event. Finally, a massive display of Air Force 1 footwear inspired by Chinese New Year, the Chinese Zodiac, and other traditional elements was created to give event-goers a breathtaking recap of the history of the AF1 in China.