The Foundation: Nike Air Force 1
The Foundation: Nike Air Force 1
- Words Grailed Team
- Date May 2, 2019
We understand that each wardrobe is as different as the person wearing it, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things that find a place in every closet. Regardless of how you view your personal style, the guidance outlined in this series should help set the bedrock for every closet. With classic design and ageless appeal, garments featured in "The Foundation" are easy to assimilate style staples that are sure to be worn on a regular basis. Advice found in this column should become tenets to dress by—no matter where you are in your style journey.
In an exceedingly crowded sneaker market, Nike makes its mark with its focus on technological innovation; anything from Air sole units to Flyknit uppers emphasize the brand’s focus on not just leading the sneaker game, but innovating on it. It may have a fairly “low tech” silhouette now, but the Air Force 1 was changing the game—both for Nike and in the world of basketball sneakers—when it launched in 1982.
Designed by Bruce Kilgore, the Air Force 1 was one of the first shoes to host Nike’s ubiquitous Air sole technology (the first shoe to feature Air would be 1979’s Tailwind). It would also serve as a major step forward for Nike in the basketball space; the Swoosh’s bread and butter was serving the needs of runners—a fairly linear activity when compared to the bobbing and weaving of basketball. Inspired by the Nike Approach hiking boot, the shoe was thick-but-responsive, from its ankle strap to circular-treaded outsole. While the shoe was originally discontinued in 1984, its universal appeal—thanks to its fairly simple exterior and ability to host a variety of different colorways—created an appeal that crossed state lines. Demand was so high for the Air Force 1, it influenced Nike to rerelease the sneaker in 1986, becoming a forefather to the industry-wide concept of “retro-ing” older sneaker models.
While it was originally dropped in a basketball-ready hightop version, it’s the Air Force 1’s other cuts—especially the low—that have become popular. Everyone can understand the appeal of a “everyday” sneaker, but while some classic tennis shoes look too slim under wider pants, and canvas shoes lack the durability leather, the Air Force 1 manages to strike a balance between office-ready and street smart. Look at it like this: we love adidas’ Stan Smith, but we’d argue that—be it roomy Dickies 574 trousers, straight leg Levi’s 501s or slim joggers—only the Air Force 1 can truly transition to every single scenario. While we recognize everyone’s mileage will vary, we’re not even the first ones to suggest that you could even pair a clean pair of Air Force 1s with a suit.
While the monochromatic all-white or all-black lows are the most common and easiest to integrate into a wardrobe, its history as a “blank canvas” has made it a perfect sneaker for collaboration. No matter where you fall on the fashion spectrum, everyone from Acronym to A-Cold-Wall*, Off-White to Travis Scott and Supreme to Sony have worked with the Air Force 1; it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that fits your personal tastes—just ask Nelly.
Want to learn more about the Air Force 1? Study up here.
Interested in some upscale Air Forces? Shop Grailed’s selection of Air Force 1s here.