Designed in 1982 by Bruce Kilgore, the Nike Air Force 1 is one of the most successful shoes ever created. For Virgil Abloh, it was much more: “It’s completely not a shoe. It’s an art object,” he said, describing the AF1’s special allure. Nowhere is Abloh’s reverence for the classic silhouette more clear than in his series of Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force Ones, the last sneaker designs of his acclaimed career. The Nike LVs represent an unprecedented merging of the worlds of streetwear, Hip Hop and high fashion, executed with the savoir-faire of Louis Vuitton. Read on to discover how these extraordinary Louis Vuitton sneakers are made and why they are so unique.
History of the Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force One
The roots of the Nike Louis Vuitton Air Force One can be traced to 1980s Harlem, where Hip Hop fashion legend Dapper Dan made waves by fusing luxury and athletic brands in his custom-made streetwear. When Virgil Abloh’s label Off-White joined forces with Nike in 2017, he applied similar principles to create his now-iconic “The Ten” collab.
The Nike Louis Vuitton Air Force One expands upon the refashion tradition of its forebears, revering the AF1 low and mid silhouettes as much as it clicks its “tongue” at propriety. As artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear, Abloh debuted 47 LV Nike Air Force 1 designs on the maison’s Spring/Summer 2022 runway that built on the boundary-breaking creativity of the Hip Hop culture that shaped him. Fusing the AF1’s classic codes with the insignia and materials of Louis Vuitton, Abloh’s Nike LV sneakers seamlessly connected the rich histories of both storied brands.
Master Craftsmanship: The Construction Of The LV Nike Air Force 1
Nike may have laid the blueprint for constructing the universally loved AF1, but the LV Nike AF1 was elevated into an art form at Louis Vuitton’s atelier in Fiesso d’Artico. The move was a first for the sneaker giant; no shoe bearing the Swoosh had ever been made outside of a Nike factory. The LV Nike Air Force 1 is crafted out of the same materials found in Abloh’s runway collections for Louis Vuitton, and with the same meticulous oversight that goes into the rest of LV’s goods— exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail.
The Nike LV begins its life as yardage of material, in this case debossed calfskin, embossed suede, coated canvas or metallized leather. The soft elements are then hand-stenciled and cut individually. The Swoosh-bearing quarter panels are created first, laid out and expertly hand sewn together. The heel panel and the inner quarter panel are then stamped with LV branding in gold leaf foil. These pieces join the upper and insole assembly on a wooden foot-shaped form where the rest of the LV Nike Air Force 1 is constructed.
Once all the textile pieces are assembled, the raw edges of the leather around the eyestays are hand-detailed with a rolling wire brush to seal the material. The area around the midsole is then shaved down, making a groove for the cupsole to fit nicely onto. After the sole is sewn to the upper, the Louis Vuitton Sneakers are buffed with an abrasive sponge, then laced up and inspected.
The finished product is more than just the sum of its parts. Each Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force One embodies the savoir-faire of Louis Vuitton, the rich cultural history of the AF1, and Virgil Abloh’s inimitable creative vision.