Original colorway of Nike Air Force shoe from 1982 (now known as Air Force 1)
The Nike Air Force, now known as the Air Force 1 (or AF1 or AF-1) athletic shoe is a product of Nike, Inc. created by designer Bruce Kilgore. This was the first basketball shoe to use the Nike Air technology. This shoe is offered in low, mid and high top.
The name is a reference to Air Force One, the plane that carries the President of the United States. The shoes are sold in three different styles, low, mid and high. The mid comes with a connected strap. The high-top Air Force 1s come with a velcro-securable strap; the mid-top strap is secured to the shoe while the high-top's strap is movable and removable on some versions. Although the shoe comes in different colors and color schemes, the most common Air Force 1s sold are solid white (also referred to as "white on white"), the second most common being solid black ("black on black").
Another identifying characteristic of an Air Force 1 shoe is a small medallion secured to the bottom of the laces but with holes on either side so it can be removed by sliding it off the shoe lace. The medallion is engraved with the inscription "AF-1", with the year "'82" inscribed below it, and has historically been made out of a silver-colored metal (perhaps pewter). Its original design was more circular, but after a redesign for the Air Force 1's 25th anniversary in 2007 the medallion is now rectangular. (The redesign also involved encasing the inscription in white plastic; that was discarded in favor of the original medallion material.)
The Air Force 1 was produced in 1982 and discontinued the following year. It was re-released in 1986 with the modern italic Nike logo with a Swoosh on the bottom on the back of the shoe. Little has changed to the Air Force One since its creation in 1982, although the original stitching on the side panels is no longer present in modern versions of the shoe. Since then, over 1, 700 color variations have been produced, bringing in an estimated 800 million USD/year in revenue. The selling of the Air Force Ones online by certain retailers used to be prohibited by Nike who had restricted supply of the sneaker. Nike now allows retailers to offer the shoe for sale online.
As a performance shoe, the AF1 is still used for street play as well as for professional play. NBA players Jerry Stackhouse (who now wears Adidas) and Rasheed Wallace have worn AF1s on court.
Nike Air Force 1s were originally considered the favored shoe of inner-city youth, especially in Harlem, New York; hence the nickname "Uptowns". Rapper Nelly and his group, St. Lunatics, collaborated on a 2002 single entitled "Air Force Ones" about the shoes. The shoe is also a focus of the 2007 Grammy-nominated single Classic (Better Than I've Ever Been), a collaboration between Kanye West, Nas, Rakim and KRS-One, that was produced by Rick Rubin.