The story of Air Force 1 seems to be that of a freaking Bollywood movie. The shoe made a pretty dope debut but soon saw a fall and later made one of the best comebacks ever! One fact which cannot be ignored is that the Air Force 1 happens to be the highest-selling sneaker of all-time. It has managed to outshine Jordans, Pumas, Chuck Taylor’s and various other trend-setting sneakers.
Nike introduced the Air Force 1 in 1982, they were probably clueless about the type of game-changer that sneaker would probably be and will go on to become a cultural phenomenon. The Air Force 1 was put on the map in 1983 largely due to Moses Malone’s 1982-83 season. Malone sported the sneaker during his best performances during the season.
The Air Force 1 became the first-ever retro sneaker in 1986. It was this sneaker which was responsible for starting the retro craze. With sneaker aficionados willing to travel from New York to Baltimore just to cop a pair of Air Force 1s. These later also started being referred to as “Uptowns”.
The Air Force 1 saw a steep fall from 1986 to 2002 but all that changed Kobe Bryant stepped into his shoes… well, quite literally. On July 18, 2002, Bryant played in the Entertainers Basketball Classic at legendary Rucker Park in New York for Irv Gotti’s Murder Inc. team. Kobe laced up a pair of Air Force 1s for the occasion and proceeded to put on a show for those who turned out.
It was probably due to Nelly and the St. Lunatic’s single “Air Force Ones” in 2002 which lead to the sneaker penetrating the mainstream. In the song, Nelly and his posse boast about sneaker purchases.
The year 2007 marked the 25th Anniversary for the sneaker and to celebrate, an All-Star lineup of rappers put out the single “Classic (Better Than I’ve Ever Been)” as a tribute to the sneaker. The track featured Kanye West, Nas, KRS-One and Rakim, the single would go on to be nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Collaboration.
In 2012, Kanye West was on his Yeezus Tour. During one of his shows, he came out decked up in all white pair of Air Force 1s and made the announcement of him and Kim having a baby. In 2013, Drake put the entire scene on fire by rocking Uptowns
in the “Started From the Bottom” video.
Since its beginning, the sneaker has seen many collaborations and reinventions is indeed on every sneaker-heads essential list.