Nike Air Force 1: The iconic shoe

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Written by: Jonathan Ecarma, staff writer


In the world of sneakers, there are few styles that can stand the test of time, but the sneakers that do will become classic and iconic. Nike has been the creator of many of these iconic shoe styles.

The white on white AF1 low.

One of these many iconic sneakers, the Air Force 1 (AF1), has quite a history. From the stigma around the all black Air Force 1, to the history of the white on white Air Force 1, this sneaker is considered iconic by many. 

The Nike Air Force 1 was originally designed in 1982, by Bruce Kilgore. Kilgore was a product designer, specializing in cars and household appliances. When Nike first contacted Kilgore, he had never worked in sneaker performance, although today he is credited with designing iconic shoes, such as the Air Jordan II and the Nike Sock Racer. But, his most recognized and arguably significant shoe was the AF1. 

In 1978, Nike released the Tailwind running shoe. It was the first shoe to ever use the famous nike “air” technology. After the Tailwind’s success, Nike decided to focus their efforts on basketball shoes. This was partly due to basketball gaining popularity at the time. 

Nike gave Bruce Kilgore the job of designing the first Nike basketball shoe that used their very own “air” technology. But the Nike air technology wasn’t the only new technology in the shoe. Kilgore’s design contained multiple new features, such as the cupsole which increased the shoes durability.

 Along with the cupsole, Kilgore designed a threaded outsole, that gave basketball players a better ease of movement on the court. These were great advancements in sneaker technology at that point in time. The Air Force 1 was ready to be released.

Original color way of high-top AF1.

Upon the AF1s 1982 release, the sneaker was only available in a high-top design. Nike had yet to create the low-cut AF1 that is known and loved by many. 
The AF1 was discontinued in 1984, but re-released in 1986. In this release, Nike introduced the Air                    

Ultimately, in the 1990s with the newly released all white AF1 Low, the shoe was transcending from a performance basketball shoe, quickly becoming a status symbol. This was partly due to celebrities like Jay-Z, who fully embraced the shoe. The AF1 was also gaining mass popularity in hip hop culture, because of rappers like Nelly, who had the “wear it once” ideology. Once Nike realized this popularity in hip hop culture, they decided to make several collaborations with popular hip hop artists. These artists include Young Jeezy, Fat Joe and Jay-Z. Many of these shoes go for several times the original price.

Today, one of the more popular things to do with all white Air Force 1s, are DIY projects. It has become a trend for people to create flashy designs on the timeless sneakers. Some people are even making their own businesses out of custom AF1s. Ultimately, the all white classic provides a great canvas for people looking to leave their own mark on the shoe.

While the sneaker isn’t as popular today as it once was, it’s one of Nike’s best selling shoes of all time, and is still loved by many.

Jonathan Ecarma is a staff writer, who enjoys sneakers, ‘90s hip hop, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. He is currently a senior in highschool, and a dual-enrollment student at Bryan College. He enjoys writing about media, entertainment and pop culture.