When you think of a legendary sneaker, Nike's Air Force 1 quickly comes to mind. The shoe was originally a basketballshoe. But of course, the silhouette is also famous simply on the street as a casual sneaker for decades. Today, we delve deeper into the history of the Air Force and answer the 10 most frequently asked questions!
A short look into the history of the Air Force 1
In 2022, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Nike Air Force 1, and its history goes way back. Indeed, in 1982, this shoe was the first basketball shoe ever introduced with Nike Air technology.
Bruce Kilgore's design would change basketball and sneaker culture forever. For example, the Force series brought Nike Air cushioning to the court game. Outside the basketball court, it was a huge success within the hip-hop community, among others.
Many of us know the Air Force through the Low model. But did you know that the first models were released as a High model? Take a look at the first Nike Air Force 1 model below!
We think this sneaker should no longer be missing from any wardrobe nowadays. But how exactly did this popularity come about?
The AF1 was worn in 1983 by Nike's best NBA players of the time. Think Michael Cooper, Bobby Jones and Moses Malone, for example. This quickly created a lot of interest among sneaker enthusiasts. Yet Nike did not manage to maintain its popularity. In an era of constant innovation, the simple but functional trainer fell into oblivion. It even led to Nike ceasing production of the Air Force just two years after their original release.
Then, when three retailers in Baltimore reintroduced the Air Force 1 in the Royal Blue and Chocolate Brown colour combinations in 1985, the 3,000 pairs sold out almost immediately. These three Baltimore-based retailers are also considered the saviours of the Air Force 1 for this reason. Not much later, the sneaker could once again be seen all over the streets.
After retailers released one-off AF1 designs from 1986 to 1991, interest in the shoes from Baltimore soon spread throughout the East Coast. Nike also capitalised on this. They released limited stocks of special and premium editions around events and holidays. By the mid-1990s-2000s, the sneaker was even so popular among collectors that shops could not keep up with demand.
Finally, the shoe became a cultural icon altogether when world-famous rappers and hip-hop artists also started wearing the Air Force 1. At the time, the line between basketball and hip-hop blurred and they started adopting elements of each other. Especially in Harlem, New York, artists adopted Forces as their own shoes. This led to the neighbourhood becoming the sole location for the latest colorways. Wanted to score the most sought-after pairs? Then you knew you had to be in uptown Manhattan in those days! This also gave rise to the nickname 'Uptowns' for the sneakers.
The Ultimate Nike Air Force 1 FAQ
The AF1 falls true to size. This means that the shoe falls true to your real size. However, it is important to remember that the Mids and Highs are tighter than the Lows. We therefore recommend ordering half a size up for these models.
You tie the Air Force 1 with a standard button. You do this by following these steps. Cross the laces and make an 'X'; wrap the bottom lace around the top lace and intertwine them; create a loop on one side of the lace; wrap the other lace once around the loop; create a new small loop with the wrapped shoelace and pull it through the 'hole' in the middle.
Another popular way is the untied fit. Here, you let the last piece of lace hang loose from the last lace eyelet. So you don't get a loop or other knot. Here, you pull the laces through the penultimate eyelet twice to shorten the laces. Then just cross over and pull the laces through the top lace eyelet!
Want to hide the laces of your sneakers? You can do so by tucking the ends of the laces inside your shoe. To do this, first make a bow like you normally would. Only now you hide it around the lip of your sneaker.
You can buy Nike Air Force 1s from Nike itself and selected retailers. However, this may vary from one AF1 to another. Not all released shoes are available everywhere yet. Moreover, due to their popularity, they are sold out in many shops.
Do you have your eye on a shoe? With our sneaker search engine, you know exactly where and when you can buy a sneaker. It also keeps you up to date on Air Force 1 restocks!
The Air Force 1 is best styled with baggy trousers or streetwear tracksuits. Lows go well with loose-fitting Dickies trousers, for example. Mids and Highs style well with Nike sweatpants. Because they are available in different colours, you can wear them with different outfits. Both in summer and winter.
Of course, there are many more ways to style your shoes. Lots of inspiration and tips can be found in one of our many style guides: How to style the Nike Air Force 1. More styling content can be found in our sneaker news!
An Air Force 1 is best cleaned by hand. This can include mild detergent, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, bleach, toilet paper and lemon and sunlight.
In addition, we do not recommend putting your shoes in the washing machine. Especially sneakers made of leather and suede can come out damaged. With shoes made of canvas or cotton, the risk is less, but the chance of damaged sneakers remains. So we recommend always washing your sneakers by hand. If you do put them in the washing machine. Then place the shoes in an old pillowcase.
The main difference between the AF1 and AF1 '07 is visible in the shoe sole, materials and fashion. For instance, the sole on the '07 is just slightly higher. Whereas the AF1 deliberately opted for a classic basketball look, so no fuss, the AF1 '07 did opt for different materials. Moreover, the Air Forces are increasingly released in the '07 version. In conclusion, you can say that the Air Force 1 has a classic look and the Air Force 1 '07 has more fashionable details.
You don't recognise fake Air Forces by one fixed indicator. In fact, it is a combination of indicators that vary from pair to pair. However, you can use these indicators to virtually determine whether a pair of AF1s are genuine: material and colour, placement of the Swoosh, shape of the heel, discrepancies on the tongue, nose and insole and outsole, errors on the size label, the box, lack of or discrepancies in accessories and, finally, judging prices and sellers.
Many standard Air Forces are made of stiff synthetic leather. In addition, the midsole is foam, you will find perforations in the toe cap and it has a rubber sole.
In addition, Nike is marketing more and more eco-friendly (vegan) shoes. So here you will not find real leather, wool, silk or glue. Natural materials of plant origin are also used. For example, cork, natural rubber, hemp and cotton. In the case of the original Air Force 1 basketball shoe, for example, the uppers and soles are now made from production residues and recycled materials. These Next Nature trainers have a similar look and feel, but are made from a completely different raw material.
The Nike Air Force 1 has been around for more than 40 years. First introduced as a basketball shoe in 1982, the iconic silhouette celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2022.
At Nike, on paper, a women's Air Force 1 is 0.5 centimetres larger than a men's shoe. Also, a WMNS shoe may feel just a little narrower. This is because the heel is slightly slimmer.
Even though we are coming to an end here in terms of FAQ, we are obviously far from finished when it comes to Nike's Air Force 1. So would you like to know more about this shoe? On our news page, you will find endless stories and information about this Nike icon! Also keen to stay up to date on AF1 or other releases? Then keep an eye on our Sneakerjagers release calendar!