If you had to pick the top 10 Kicks that influenced modern culture, without a doubt Nike’s Air Force One’s would make the list. There was a point where it was the go to shoe, not just sneaker but shoe for basketball players, rappers, and anybody who had an ounce of style or flavor.
The AF-1’s are the most successful selling athletic shoe of all time, and part of one of the reasons for their popularity is that they so customizable. Nike alone has put out more than 3,000 variations on the shoe plus people turned their AF-1’s into pieces of art, with their own elaborate designs. It’s pretty much a lock that if you are of a certain age, if you grew up in the late 80’s of 90’s, male or female, at some point you owned a pair. If not, you damn sure knew about them and after Nelly immortalized the shoe in 2002, with the hit Air Force One’s (if you forgot let me take you back).
They really were revolutionary when they hit the market back in 1982, but lets be real for a minute, by todays standards, they might be one of the most uncomfortable pairs of shoes ever made. We joke about the fact that dudes actually played NBA games in these things, because its hard enough to walk in the damn things. Women have stiletto heels, men have AF-1’s. They really do feel like a pair of stylish painted bricks. They are BRUTAL. Don’t get me wrong, I love the AF-1’s, and have 6 pairs, because they are classics, but they literally murder my feet. 20 minutes in the originals is like a torture test for your feet, so I would never travel in or with a pair. When Nike re-issued the One’s just a few years ago, I ran out a grabbed a pair and worn them just one time. One and done, they are still sitting in my closet because they made my feet cry.
Finally, earlier this year Nike updated the shoe and while I thought it looked cool with its new flyknit upper, the pain caused by the originals still weighed heavy on my brain. I saw the new shoes and thought, I would rather wear two wood blocks with sandpaper attached then a pair of AF-1’s on vacation. Then a miracle happened, I was in the Nike store, and the light hit a pair just right, so I walked over and picked them up, just to get a feel and thats when everything changed.
Remember back in the day on the Maury show when they would bring out the ugly duckling from high school who had transformed into a 10 and wanted to confront their adolescent tormenters. Thats how I felt that day in the Nike store, The Air Force One’s just popped out and said look at me, I’m grown up and fine, you can love me now. The originals feel like those small weights people use to accent workouts, but the new ones are a revelation. They were light, they were soft, they were flexible, what the hell was going on. Then I put them on my feet and fell in love. Take your favorite pair running shoes and put them up against the new AF-1’s. Nike has replaced everything, the leather upper… gone, the heavy sole…gone, that brick like feeling… gone, gone, gone.
My pet peeve about travel has always been that, for comfort, I had to sacrifice style, but now that has changed. Oh trust me, I’m ordering these things in every color, and they are without a doubt my new go to travel shoe. I started with classic white, which of course is a dicey choice for sightseeing or the bump and grind of travel but guess what, you can wash them. So no more of those ugly running shoes, bring a little style to your vacation look, the AF-1’s are ready for the road.