To celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Air Force 1, Nike has collaborated with visionaries from around the world in celebration of the shoe’s defining colorway, white-white.
“There is no other shoe that connects to sport, music, fashion, art, the street and the city all at the same time. The most ubiquitous Air Force 1 is the white-white. For the 35th anniversary, we selected collaborators who are impacting future generations across culture. Their brief was filtered through the white-white lens. The design brief was to remain classic and recognizable to the Air Force 1 while connecting to each collaborator’s life personally and the fields they represent.” – Senior Creative Director Nike Sportswear, Lead Designer, Al Baik
In the end, Don C, Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Errolson Hugh, Travis Scott and Virgil Abloh all offered their distinct view of the icon. Here’s what they envisioned and how, together with Nike, they brought it to life.
AIR FORCE 1 LOW TRAVIS SCOTT BY TRAVIS SCOTT
“I looked at the making of this shoe the same way I make an album. I wanted it to tell a story about me. I set the tone to go crazy at my shows. I’m the acid of rap.” – Travis Scott
Baik on how they interpreted the performer in the Air Force 1 Low Travis Scott…
“When we first met with Travis, the first thing he said was, ‘I’m the acid of rap.’ It was a prompt to take a classic but then really trip it out. We brought this idea to life by making the binding around the canvas reflective, so when it hits light, it reflects various colors.
At first glance, it’s seemingly one color, but at a different angle, it has layers and depth to it. To mix up the look, the swoosh is Velcro and comes with three different articulations of the Swoosh. Customizable patches are based on his label artwork, and the dubrae is comprised of Travis’ grill.”
AIR FORCE 1 HI JUST DON BY DON “DON C” CRAWLEY
“I knew I wanted to use premium leather and to mix the best quality of material and fabrics, and we did just that. There were details from the Air Force 2 and Air Force 3 that I wanted to bring into the shoe, and I appreciate Nike giving me the freedom to push the limits there.” – DON C
We’re talking about the Air Force 1. It’s the OG, the grandfather, the one that started it all. I always feel that you have to be down with your family, because that’s who’s always going to be there for you. Family doesn’t always mean blood, but you have to keep them close and respect the ones who are looking out for you. I just wanted to pay respect to this iconic silhouette, and make sure kids really appreciate what it means to stick with your family.”
How Baik’s team tackled Don C’s vision…
“We worked together to decide where elements of the Air Force 1, 2 and 3 could be incorporated. The medial side of the shoe was taken from the Air Force 2 and the heel from the Air Force 3. It all rolls together nicely while still staying true to the classic Air Force 1 look.
Don C is an aficionado in sneakers and basketball culture. He wanted to give the shoe a premium look, which comes through in the rolled edges and gold accents.”
AIR FORCE 1 ’07 ROC-A-FELLA BY KAREEM “BIGGS” BURKE
“It was great timing for us to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Air Force 1, because we just finished celebrating 20 years of Roc-A-Fella. If you think about Roc-A-Fella, you think about the logo. If you think about sneakers, you think about Air Force 1s. To have our logo on the Air Force 1, is very special to us. Air Force 1s are true to Roc-A-Fella.” -Kareem “Biggs” Burke
The Roc-A-Fella logo means something to all of us. We wear it on our heart. It’s more than just a symbol, it’s about the belief system behind it. It’s loyalty, integrity, relationships, friendships; it’s the brotherhood behind the logo.”
Why Baik’s team was excited to re-release the Air Force 1 ’07 Roc-A-Fella…
“A classic in the world of sneaker culture, the shoe pays homage to the Air Force 1’s roots in New York City. The design is specifically inspired by the OG.”
LUNAR FORCE 1/ACRONYM ‘17 BY ERROLSON HUGH
“At the beginning, when we first were approached by Nike to look at the Lunar Force 1, the first thing we asked ourselves was, ‘Why should we do this? What could we possibly bring to the table that Nike doesn’t already know how to do?’
In the end, we decided to approach it just like we approach the apparel, which means: Look at a problem, or look at an aspect of the functionality, and see if there’s a way we can improve it.”
Baik on why the Lunar Force 1/Acronym ‘17 was pivotal…
“Errolson approached the shoe’s functionality and wanted to take the design to a new place. Staying true to the iconic white-white lens, he pushed the design radically forward with his interpretation.”
AIR FORCE 1 ’07 OFF WHITE BY VIRGIL ABLOH
“It’s all one expression. It’s the Off-White ideology of altering product. That’s my brand and my way of making things. I like to start with something established and then iterate on a process to edit it.” – Virgil Abloah
What I love about the three Air Force 1s I’ve worked on with Nike, so far, they encompass one idea executed in three different ways. With this one, the colorway is important. The Air Force 1 isn’t iconic in just any color, they’re iconic in one: white. White is the theme for this third Air Force 1, looking at the cultural context of the white on white — editing it, but not editing it too far to where it becomes something else.”
Baik on the impact of working with these five collaborators…
“The shoe is authentic and important to all of these collaborators, and we were open to the possibility of pushing the design further. Above anything, we see some amazing stories coming to life through all of these silhouettes.”