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Originally debuted to the public in 1982 intended as a basketball sneaker, the Nike Air Force 1 has become an iconic shoe in terms of style, comfortability, and aesthetics. Arguably one of Nike's most recognizable silhouettes worldwide - this timeless model received its name from the plane that flys the President of the United States - the Air Force One. This model has seen countless amounts of collaborations, material executions, colorways, iterations - ranging from collaborations with professional sports players/teams, artists, cities, musicians, influencers, and many more.
Created by designer Bruce Kilgore this model was Nike's first basketball sneaker to feature Nike Air technology (it is not known to many that within the classic rubber midsole on an Air Force 1 lies a full-length Nike Air unit.) This was the first basketball sneaker he ever designed - initially having trouble bringing the designs to life it wasn't until Kilgore met with a sock-liner distributor who guaranteed he could get the tooling right and bring Kilgore's vision to life. Roughly six weeks later he presented Kilgore with the soles, which he deemed to be perfect and is the infamous sole we see on models today. The circular outsole found on AF1's is the first of its kind to touch a cupsole which allowed basketball players a pivot point that the classic herringbone pattern on most sneakers back in the '80s did not allow.
The Air Force 1 was initially built in the U.S.A. in Nike's first Sports Research Lab in New Hampshire and became Nike's first slip-lasted model which is a construction technique that features the material of the upper turned over and sewn directly into the midsole of the sneaker. After producing the AF1 to Kilgore's liking, wear-test samples were delivered to college athletes by Kilgore himself in typical Nike fashion, he loaded up a van and hit the road to deliver samples (an homage of sorts to Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman who originally sold BRS sneakers out of a Volkswagen Type 2 Bus at college track events.)
Nike's Air Force 1 has received countless amounts of updates and different renderings over the years while still keeping true to its original DNA but it originally was introduced as a High-top model, and in 1983 the Low's were released. Today, this sneaker has gained a cult following and respect by many - but nearly two years after its original release Nike planned to discontinue the model and it is credited to three Baltimore-local retailers dubbed "The Three Amigos," who started a "Color of the Month Club" to help encourage new colorways of Air Force 1's and ended up keeping the model alive. The owners of Cinderella Shoes, Rudo Sports, and Downtown Locker Room created this initiative they took to Nike - they were able to create various colorways of the AF1 and release different colors each day. Nike thought it was crazy but believed in the retailers and forced them to purchase 1,200 pairs of two colorways - White / Royal Blue and White / Chocolate Brown that they sold almost instantly. Unintentionally and completely organically they created a new-found-hype for AF1's from Baltimore to Philadelphia, all the way up the I-95 Expressway to New York City.
Shortly after in the mid-'90s Nike introduced Mid's and the iconic Jewel Swoosh which to this day remain timeless executions. Following the '90s craze of Air Force 1's Nike introduced women's sizing of the Air Force 1 in 2001. The early to mid-2000s can be considered a golden era for AF1 enthusiasts with collaborations exploding left and right as well as the AF1 being introduced to Nike ID, allowing customers to become collaborators and creating their own custom AF1. In 2010 Nike introduced its new technology to the AF1 such as Foamposite, Hyperfuse, Liquid Metal, and of course Flyknit.