Nike Air Force 1 Low
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Continuing the Legacy of One of the Most Iconic Sneakers in History
As one of Nike’s all-time best-selling shoes, the Air Force 1 has remained a constant presence in basketball, street, and hip-hop culture. Though originally released as a high-top shoe, it was the release of the low-cut form and classic White/White colorway that truly cemented the Air Force 1 as a staple of sneaker culture.
A Grand Design
The original high-top Air Force 1 was designed by Bruce Kilgore and released in 1982. A corporate architect at Nike at the time, Kilgore drew inspiration from the cathedral at Notre Dame when he designed the shoe’s midsole. Surprised and impressed by the shoe’s excellent athletic performance, Kilgore loaded up a pickup truck with several pairs of the Air Force 1 and distributed them to local college athletes. As the first basketball shoe designed with Nike Air technology, the Air Force 1 had flexibility and impact-cushioning not seen in earlier sneakers.
Ironically, despite the shoe’s massive impact, Kilgore himself assumed the Air Force 1 would be discontinued after its initial run, not realizing the shoe was still in production until he visited a Taiwanese factory that was assembling the shoe several years later. Kilgore has been on the record saying that he didn’t anticipate the stratospheric success it’s had.
Up the Court and Uptown
The initial high-top Air Force 1 was worn by several top basketball players, including by Moses Malone as he helped lead Philadelphia to the 1983 championship victory. When the low-cut White/White iteration was released the same year, the shoe became a favorite of inner-city youth. At the time, Nike didn’t re-release sneakers past their initial runs, so as difficult as it is to imagine today, they intended to discontinue the Air Force 1.
The sneaker was saved by a trio of Baltimore shoe retailers known as the “Three Amigos,” who pitched the idea of region-exclusive colorways in a program called “Color of the Month.” These exclusive colorways caused demand to skyrocket, and sneaker enthusiasts travelled from New York and Washington D.C. for a chance to get their hands on a pair. Today, the Air Force 1 is no stranger to new colorways, allowing the shoe to constantly reinvent itself.
The Most Important Shoe in Hip-Hop
The Air Force 1 and hip-hop have grown up and evolved with each other. As hip-hop became a nationally recognized movement throughout the ’80s, the Air Force 1 evolved from an inner-city status symbol to an emblem of hip-hop’s growing prominence in pop culture. As these artists grew into household names, they brought their bold senses of fashion to the national stage, catapulting the Air Force 1 into stardom.
Later, influential figures in hip-hop, like turntable master and sneaker guru DJ Clark Kent, spoke high and low about how much they loved the shoe. He started a trend of buying white-on-white Air Force 1 pairs to wear only once, a practice eventually adopted by Roc-A-Fella Records members. The shoe got perhaps its most famous rap shoutout in Nelly’s 2002 hit “Air Force Ones,” which saw the artist lovingly sing about “stompin’ in my Air Force Ones.”
As hip-hop became more mainstream and commercialized in the early 2000s, Nike began to appeal to the rap community’s love of its flagship shoe. Artists like Eminem, Fat Joe, and Questlove would receive their own colorways of the Air Force 1, often to promote the release of an upcoming album.
This trend continues with modern artists, like Travis Scott, who have etched their place in hip-hop’s pantheon by getting their own colorways. Even all these decades later, the legacies of hip-hop and the Air Force 1 are intrinsically linked.
Timeless Design, Infinite Customization
In today’s world of short hype cycles, there’s something to be said about the Air Force 1’s timeless silhouette. Highlighted by the popular White/White and Black/Black colorways, the shoe’s design has served as a canvas for scores of artists and designers, leading to numerous collabs and over 2,000 colorways. Influential streetwear brands like Supreme, Off-White, and ACRONYM have all released their own takes on the Air Force 1, using the shoe’s ageless design as a base to add more avant-garde, post-modern sensibilities.
Their versatility and endless color palettes let you pair them with any fit for a look that’s both vintage and contemporary. The shoe’s history of artistic expression makes it as customizable as it is timeless. Whether you like striking colorways, subdued silhouettes, or daring new takes on a classic design, the Air Force 1 gives you plenty of options to strut your stuff. If you have an idea for a fit, there’s guaranteed to be an Air Force 1 for you.
Streamlined, Classic Fits
If you’re looking for your fit to make a statement that’s tried-and-true, there’s no better anchor than the Air Force 1. In terms of completing a look, the Air Force 1 is probably the most versatile sneaker ever. Whether you’re rocking a casual fit, a genre-pushing streetwear ensemble, or even formal wear, the shoe synergizes well with any look, letting you truly express your personal style. Complement your pair with a Nike tee or jogger to create a look where boldness comes from simplicity.
Sneakerheads, athletes, artists, and more have rallied behind the Air Force 1 as a symbol of confidence and self-expression for decades. As soon as you lace up a pair, you become a part of the most enduring legacy in sneaker history.