Basketball shoes from the ‘80s continue to sneak into mainstream fashion, and one of the Swoosh pairs that haven’t waned at all is the Air Force 1 High. Its strappy high-top collar seems to have a magnetic force that always finds a connection with every age group. Comfort is remarkable. Price doesn’t sting. Loyalists can’t ask for more.
- Comfy ankle support
- Well-padded collar
- Adjustable strap
- Secure fit
- Long-lasting rubber outsole
- Short break-in
- Feels warm under cold weather
- Easy to clean
- Lacks ventilation
Who should buy the Nike Air Force 1 High
You’ll cave into this versatile sneaker, whether you are a long-time AF-1 admirer or not if:
- you love basketball sneakers
- you’re up for budget-friendly pairs, especially ones that don’t go beyond $100
- underfoot cushioning matters a lot to you.
Who should NOT buy it
Want a similar but lighter shoe? Look at Nike Air Force 1 Mid. If you wish to own a Swoosh high-top in all-leather but are not a fan of adjustable straps, try considering the Nike Dunk High that’s available at about the same price. If you want a breathable silhouette, try the Nike Air Force 1 Crater Flyknit.
High-top Air Force 1 swaddles the feet and ankles comfortably
Sneaker fans appreciated that Nike Air Force 1 High is sufficiently padded because it offers them protection and support slightly higher than the ankles.
It lets you get your desired fit
Sneaker users lured to kicks with adjustable straps love how this shoe gives them the desired fit they want. It even comes with an adequate length of laces.
Expect its rubber sole to last a reasonable amount of time
Those who have donned this for a relatively long period are happy with the rubber outsole's durability.
Ready to cradle your foot for a whole day ride
Its cushioning component isn’t pillowy, according to the wearers. But they still consider this sneaker suitable for walking around, even for long hours.
Its leather needs a bit of flexing at the start
Like the other Air Force 1 leather-made iteration, this one, too, needs a short break-in time.
Ideal for fall and spring
This high-top keeps the feet warm under cold weather. The ventilation holes on the upper are more for decorative purposes only as they don’t contribute to breathability.
Heavier than the average Nike highs
Swoosh sneaker users say AF-1 High feels a bit heavier than other Air-soled kicks.
The Air Force 1 or AF1 is one of Nike’s highly celebrated, best-selling shoes designed by Bruce Kilgore. Its popularity remained beyond three decades after the OG high-cut dropped in 1982. This sneaker that’s made into tons of variations generates an estimated annual revenue of $800 million, with an approximate turnover of $28 billion in its 35th year. This shoe, named after the official aircraft of the US President, is the highest-selling sports shoe of all time.
The Nike Air Force I was originally a high-top ball shoe that incorporated the proprietary Air cushioning unit in its midsole. AF1 is the first sports shoe that utilized this innovative compressed air technology. This air-filled pocket delivers the needed support and responsiveness while on the court.
Another feature of the AF1 that’s highly noticeable apart from the embedded cushioning system is the lacing ornament near the forefoot. The original silhouette has a nearly oval-shaped lace medallion engraved with the “AF-1” and “82” labels in pewter material. This piece of shoestring accessory was referred to as a tiny ornament back in the day until Nike footwear designer Damon Clegg called it his Scottish accent, “doobrie,” in 1994. It was later coined deubre by the brand.
Air Force 1 was successfully marketed during that time which was initially sold at $89 by using limited regional releases to build up interest in the shoe and increase its market. A niche was carved for the AF1 on the East Coast from the Beaverton headquarters, a densely populated seaboard in the US, supplying the area with limited pairs.
The popularity of this shoe became widespread, creating a cult of followers from the hardwood to the hip-hop communities. The AF1 was later endorsed by influential icons elevating its status to a prominent spot, and making it one of the coveted shoes in the market, particularly between the ‘80s and ‘90s. It is amplified by producing regulated drops of the AF1, which proved to be an effective marketing strategy that kept the model one of the in-demand classics until today.
In 2007, a remarkable collection of the AF1 commemorating the model’s 25th anniversary was unveiled, aptly named the Air Force 1 ‘07. The model’s distinct deubre or ornamental piece on the forefoot shoelaces was redesigned for this particular product line and was given a more refined, rectangular Air Force 1 shape. The inscription retained the abbreviation of the Nike model while it eliminated the year of AF1’s original release.
This most recognized silhouette has pervaded the sneaker culture for several years and continues to be a fashion staple to this day. More iterations are expected to be released in the coming years as this Air Force 1 remains a much sought blank canvas for collaboration endeavors and a self-promotional platform by its throngs of fan base.
Extraordinary Nike Air Force 1 High iterations
Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 High
A partnership between Nike and Supreme brought the heat during the fall/winter season in 2014 when a sensational three-sneaker set of the Air Force 1 High was dropped, precisely on October 23. Branded as the “World Famous,” the Forces arrived in a red, black, and white premium leather upper as part of the 20th anniversary of the AF1.
Nike AF 1 High Unlimited Glory Pack
The customization for the Air Force 1 High was granted through the NIKEiD. In line with the Unlimited Glory pack released on August 5, 2016, sneaker fans had the option to choose their desired color among the Swoosh brand’s metallic offerings of gold, silver, and bronze. Shoppers were also allowed to incorporate inscriptions, country icons, and UN country codes into these kicks.
Nike Air Force 1 High “Black Gum”
The classic, high-top Force appeared in an all-black suede exterior, while its customary white sole received a gum medium brown treatment when it went out for a global release in October 2017. It also came out with a reflective Nike Swoosh branding, ankle strap, and heel tab. This statuesque beauty was made available in women’s sizes for an initial retail cost of $110.
Just Don Air Force 1 Hi “White/White/White”
The Air Force 1 received a luxurious treatment with the drop of the Just Don Air Force 1 High through a collaboration between Nike and Don C. This Nike casual shoe is brimming with textural detailing using premium materials such as smooth, tumbled, and snakeskin leather. This Air Force 1 High White/white sneaker is the most ambitious in the AF100 lineup dropped as part of the Complex Con 2017 held in December.
Influenced by the Air Force 1, Air Force 2, and Air Force 3, this sneaker profile boasts some gold accent on the strap ring, top-end eyelets, aglets, and lace locks that bear “Just” on one and “Don” on the other pair. This much-favored design initially retailed at $200.
Nike Air Force 1 High BHM
The AF1 is one of the silhouettes that have been part of the yearly Black History Month pack from when this tradition in Nike started.
For the 2018 collection, the Pan-African flag was the inspiration behind the Nike AF1 design, which displayed the red, green, and black colors across the entire upper down to the midsole. Apart from having a soft tumbled leather upper, it bears a gold detailing on its Swoosh branding, aglets, and heel logo, while the wordmark EQUALITY stretches around the ankle strap.
PSNY x AF1 High
New York’s design duo and masterminds behind the street-savvy clothing label the Public School, Dao-Yi Chow, and Maxwell Osborne created their vision of the iconic sneaker with a deconstructed PSNY x AF1 High silhouette. Dropped on September 5, 2018, this Public School New York AF1 kick turned up in black, white, and grey colorways.
The resurfaced look, a mishmash version of the Air Force 1 Low, Mid, and High, dished out the customary ankle strap and added a pull strap on the heel. The extended paneling on the rear sides are takeaways from the typical Highs, which appear like the tail of the Air Force One aircraft. The eyestay was also tweaked and turned into a reversible and removable form that encourages users to experiment with their casual wear styling.
Nice to know
- The creative mind behind AF1, Bruce Kilgore, took cues from the façade of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in designing the sole's contours.
- Nike Air Approach hiking cleats inspired this shoe.
- One of the initial weartesters of the Air Force 1 is Nike’s stalwart designer Tinker Hatfield who joined Nike in the early 1980s.
- Upon its release in 1982, six NBA players were enlisted to introduce the Air Force 1. Later known as the “original six,” the group comprises Moses Malone, Mychal Thompson, Bobby Jones, Calvin Natt, Jamaal Wilkes, and Michael Cooper. Each of the six players was among the first to receive the AF1 in the OG white/gray colorway to endorse and market the new shoe.
- The Air Force 1 is nicknamed Uptowns, while the 2007 version is also branded Air Force XXV.