NIKE AIR FORCE 1: CANVAS OF THE GAME
This morning, I decided to bust out a crisp new pair of Air Force 1s to wear today. Can you believe it’s been 35 years since the first Air Force 1 was released? That’s three and a half decades worth of kicks and the most basic one — the white on white low top – is still relevant to this day. It made me think– how can something so simple withstand the test of time?
Let’s go back to the beginning and understand where it all started. In 1978, Nike introduced “Air” with the Air Tailwind — the first ever shoe with “Air” technology. Frank Rudy’s innovation of using a blow rubber molding provided superior cushioning to the runner during the Honolulu Marathon. You can just imagine how many light bulbs went off when it “worked”, pushing designers and creators over at Nike to re-purpose the tech into other categories.
In 1982, Bruce Kilgore brought Air to basketball with the Air Force 1. Not only did it revolutionize the game, but also created that desire for people to get with the program and embrace the idea that this is the future of basketball. The shoe went on to become the most successful shoe in Nike history with very little marketing behind it. Sure, there were pro athletes that wore the AF-1, but you can also make the case that it was the every man’s shoe. Through the years the Air Force 1 has been through it all, adapting with the times – updating materials, adding technology (Ultra, Flyknit, Lunar, etc), stripping it down, bulking it up, you name it, they’ve done it. That just goes to show how versatile the shoe is, and how it remains to be an all-time favorite.
Which leads me back to my earlier question — how can a crisp pair of white on whites be so relevant? The simple answer is that it just works. Whether you wear them pregame, during the game (just like Rasheed Wallace), or the post game, the Air Force 1 just becomes your go-to shoe. And that’s just with basketball. What’s great about the AF-1 is that is has crossover appeal. It’s now everyone’s staple. People appreciate a no-nonsense shoe that’s comfortable, simple, yet wearable with everything. You can wear them with shorts, pants, skirts, and everything in between and they still look good. You just can’t go wrong with a pair of white on whites.
The Air Force 1 is synonymous to Nike Basketball. It serves as a reminder but more importantly the blueprint for today’s game. Sure, you can make an argument that the Air Jordan, the LeBrons, the Kobes, KDs, or even Kyries are better performance shoes but no one can question the existence of an icon, the existence of an originator like the Air Force 1.