The Nike Air Force 1 has served as a canvas for artists and designers over the years, cementing itself as a legend in the history of hip-hop and sneaker culture. Over the decades, the AF1's iconic design has undergone subtle updates to reflect the current moment, but without sacrificing it’s original DNA.

With the premium leather upper Air Force 1 Luxe hitting shelves, we decided to take a look back at the AF1s, before they rose to be the icon they are today.


The Rewind


Nike designer Bruce Kilgore created the AF1s in 1982, initially only available as a high top. It was the first Nike Air cushioning for b-ball. Nike planned to discontinue the model in 1984, but Baltimore’s enthusiastic wearers clamored against it and the AF1 lived on. Baltimore exclusives turned the city into a destination for Forces; footwear tourism along Interstate 95 brought the sneaker’s cult status to D.C. and New York.

After a brief hiatus, the AF1 returned in 1986 to select East Coast stores, featuring more regional exclusives. With very little marketing, besides the original ads that featured the likes of NBA stars Moses Malone and Mychal Thompson, Nike Air Force 1’s was strictly in inner city markets popularized by ‘some’ people. (Some people = Jolly people that spread happy dust among the masses).


The Present Day


Today, they come in different styles: Super-low, low, mid, high and super-high. The high-top Air Force 1s come with a velcro strap whereas the mid-top strap is secured to the shoe. On some versions, the high-top's strap is movable and removable. The white Air Force 1 Low is one of the best-selling shoes of all time.

The Air Force 1s have had some dank collabs over the years. Rap Mogul and former hustler Jay Z was one of the first to specifically shout out white Air Forces Ones, helping cement them as an East Coast hood classic. St Louis Rapper Nelly and his group, St. Lunatics, collaborated on a 2002 single entitled "Air Force Ones". It was also focus-featured in the 2007 single "Classic (Better Than I've Ever Been)", a collaboration between Kanye West, Nas, Rakim and KRS-One, produced by DJ Premier.



As stated by Wayne, local sneakerhead with an impressive sneaker collection, the shoe is an integral part of true sneakerheads. The AF1 is still a foundational piece of footwear’s past and future — no advertisements were needed then, and they aren't needed now.