Sneakers, Sports Memorabilia & Modern Collectibles

The History of the Nike Air Force 1

By Ava Posmantur
Buy Nike Air Force 1 sneakers at Sotheby's today. Explore our collection of Air Force One shoes, including Off White Air Force 1 releases and the Louis Vuitton Air Force 1.

Air Force 1 sneakers, known by various monikers including Forces, AF1s, Uptowns, Flaves, and Harlems, hold a special place in the hearts of sneaker collectors worldwide. Nike Air Force 1s, released in 1982, are not just shoes – they're a cultural phenomenon. These iconic sneakers introduced Nike's groundbreaking Air technology to the basketball shoe arena, forever changing the game. With its timeless AF1 silhouette, Nike crafted a versatile masterpiece that seamlessly blends style and functionality, making it a must-have for streetwear and sneaker enthusiasts. Coming off of the 40th Anniversary of the AF1, we delve into the captivating history of the Nike Air Force 1 and explore our collection of Air Forces for sale at our online Sneaker Shop.

History of the Nike Air Force One

In 1982, the Nike Air Force 1 emerged as a game-changer, captivating both sneaker enthusiasts and basketball stars. Its debut saw endorsements from the "Original Six," prominent NBA players of the era. Designed by Bruce Kilgore, the Air Force 1 not only marked his basketball shoe debut but also became the first to introduce Nike Air cushioning to the court, revolutionizing performance.

While originally conceived as a hiking boot-inspired, ankle-strapped high top, the shoe’s popularity exploded with the release of the Air Force 1 Low, which found a fervent fanbase in major cities from Baltimore to D.C. to New York.

Despite facing retirement in 1984 amid the rise of innovative Nike models, the shoe's revival was spearheaded by Baltimore sneaker boutiques. Collaborating with Nike on exclusive styles through the "Color of the Month" club, these retailers laid the groundwork for sneaker culture, showcasing the significance of those who curate and sell Air Force 1s alongside their makers and buyers. The evolution of the Nike Air Force 1 encompasses innovation, community, and style, an enduring influence on modern sneaker culture.

Best Air Force Ones to Buy Now

The Nike Air Force One has long been a staple of Hip Hop culture. Exclusive AF1 collabs with Hip Hop royalty, ranging from DJ Clark Kent to Drake, heightened the Air Force 1’s influence and appeal.

Nike Air Force 1 Low DJ Clark Kent The List

DJ Clark Kent and Nike commemorated “The List” with a limited edition Nike Air Force 1 Low. With a history of sneaker collaborations, including the renowned 112 Pack, DJ Clark Kent's involvement in the sneaker world is well-established. The mismatched design sports a multicolored, pebbled leather upper with mini Swooshes on the lateral sides.

Nike Air Force 1 Low OVO Sample Left Shoe

In 2019, Nike teamed up with Drake’s October’s Very Own (“OVO”) label to redesign the iconic Air Force 1 low silhouette. This sneaker sample features a sleek black patent upper contrasted by hints of gold in Swoosh, heel and tongue branding, and OVO’s signature owl on the lateral heel. This sample pair was never released to the public, making it extremely rare and sought after. The Air Force 1 Low comes complete with a sample hang tag.

Nike Air Force 1 Low White Off-White The Ten

Virgil Abloh’s deconstructed take on the Air Force One became an instant fan favorite. Over the years to come, Off White Air Force 1s would continue to drop in a variety of colorways including the AF1 Low Off White from "The Ten" collection. This Off White Air Force 1 release contains some of the most experimental elements of Abloh’s “GHOSTING” effect. This Off White AF1 Low is distinguished by the removal of the typical layers, exposing the padding of the shoe overlaid with translucent details.

Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 Gold

In celebration of the Nike Air Force One's 40th Anniversary, Virgil Abloh collaborated with Nike to send 47 pairs of bespoke Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force 1s down the Spring/Summer 2022 runway. To distinguish them from the original Nike Air Force 1, the sneakers were made with materials employed in Abloh’s Louis Vuitton men’s collections and styled with his signature quotation marks, echoing the written graphics Abloh used to adorn the shoes. Every pair was made by Louis Vuitton in Fiesso d’Artico, marking the first time the AF1 model was crafted outside of a Nike factory.

Nike x Tiffany and Co. Air Force 1 Low

In March of 2023, Nike and Tiffany & Co. teamed up to release the sought-after Nike x Tiffany & Co. Air Force 1. Paying homage to the brand’s heritage, the Air Force One Low was produced using premium materials, including Tiffany’s 925 silver on the back of the coveted sneaker. The Nike Swoosh is also featured in the iconic Tiffany Blue. The tongue reads “Tiffany” in cursive and “NIKE AIR” is embroidered on each heel tab and engraved on sterling silver plates below.

Available for Immediate Purchase

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