Associated with the hoods of Uptown New York where the Air Force 1s first took hold!
In the words of Air Force 1 expert and sneaker historian Bobbito Garcia, “If you make a nice-looking sneaker that’s comfortable, people are going to wear it.” This rang true when it came to the release of the Nike Air Force 1 in 1982, with the noteworthy uptake in the stores from the day of they hit the shelves. It wasn’t however until Moses Malone from the Philedelphia 76ers, who took home the NBA title as well as the NBA MVP award in the 1982/83 season wearing AF1’s, that the shoe exploded onto the scene.
The AF1 was the first silhouette in which Nike implemented both Nike Running’s Air technology as well as the Nike Cupsole all into one shoe. This technology made the shoe substantially more comfortable, and gave basketball players superior comfort and stability. Although Nike’s intentions were to create a shoe that would serve a practical sporting purpose, the tight-knit relationship between basketball and hip-hop subcultures meant that the shoe quickly infiltrated the streets.
Editor-in-chief of King Magazine, Datwon Thomas, gives credit to street culture for the success of the AF1. It was the people on the streets who spread the word about them in the days when the internet was non-existent, and demanded the restock when they eventually ran out. Back then, Nike’s manufacturing policy worked in the way that once a particular run was sold out, they moved on to newer styles. The high demand for a restock from the buyers in stores for AF1’s meant that the owners of retail stores such as Charley Rudo, Downtown Locker Room and Cinderella Shoes had to band together to get Nike to reproduce this style again and again to cater to the masses. This was essentially the birth of the retro trend in Nike footwear that still exists to this day.
In its 35 years of existence, the Air Force 1 silhouette has been the subject of hundreds of crazy collaborations and customizations. From reflective materials to anaconda skin, they’ve seen it all- one pair even being valued around the $50 000 mark (R658835.00 with today’s exchange rate).
To me, nothing will ever beat the classics. White on white on white (as seen below), the same way Dr Dre does it. The man loves the Air Force 1 style so much that he wears a new pair every day! With many high profile ambassadors such as Kanye West, Kobe Bryant and Drake also on its side, the Air Force 1 was destined to be a massive success the world over. Famous rapper Nelly even went as far as writing a song dedicated to the shoe.
With Nike having made over $28 billion in sales from the Air Force 1, I think it’s safe to say its up there with their most successful styles to date. What is your favourite Nike style?