Thirty-four years after its launch and 2,000 iterations later, the Air Force 1 — an iconic shoe with roots in basketball and legend status in street culture — remains one of Nike’s most recognizable silhouettes.
To usher the icon into the future, while taking its legacy, use and symbolism into consideration, Nike designers tasked themselves with marrying the original silhouette and Nike’s breathable, lightweight Flyknit material. But the application process wasn’t wholly intuitive.
It started with Nike Sportswear designers taking steamy 12-hour inspiration strolls around Paris in the summer, which led to the conviction that they could make the shoe lighter and more flexible while enhancing fit and reducing creasing on the toe vamp.
The designers knew that they needed a solution that preserved the essence of the original Air Force 1. Taking a hands-on approach, Nike Footwear Design Director Jonathan Johnson Griffin bonded a dark grey Flyknit upper to a 3D-printed prototype of an Air Force 1 sole, then used a black marker to color in the Swoosh and eye soles.
Flyknit technology enabled the design team to precisely micro-engineer every stitch to create the featherweight upper for maximum comfort and minimal weight, while it also reduced manufacturing waste and the amount of material used. The shoe became not only the lightest Air Force 1 ever made, approximately half the weight of the original, but also the first Flyknit shoe to include a leather Swoosh logo.
The Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit debuts in Flyknit favorite, multicolor, and University Red for Nike Sportswear, plus a classic all-white Air Force 1 colorway for NikeLab. The Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit is available now on Nike.com/Techbook, Nike’s interactive and shoppable look-book, and January 28 on Nike.com and retailers worldwide and retails at R1,899.95.