Bruce Kilgore is a genius. If you didnâ€™t know, Kilgore designed the Nike Air Force One, and was also instrumental in the advent of Shox technology.
But thatâ€™s now why Iâ€™m writing this.
Nope â€“ itâ€™s just the preamble before I tell you about the AF1 25th anniversary â€“ and why it pisses me off.
In 1982, Swooshie dropped the Air Force â€œZeroâ€, a pseudo-prototype identical to the AF1, except with no perforations in the toe box, and mesh side panels. Twenty-five years later, the â€œZeroâ€ returns â€“ in Toronto, the â€œZeroâ€ is selling at a quick-strike â€œAir Force Oneâ€ store just above Good Foot sneaker boutique. Whatâ€™s more, Nike has also released the Air Force 25 â€“ an updated AF1 replete with air max 360 technology, clear sole plates and newish design.
Two issues here:
Did cats really want a performance version of the AF1? If so, why not ball in regular olâ€™ AF1s? I know â€˜sheed (NBA baller Rasheed Wallace) wuz rocking his AF1s with custom double-stacked zoom insoles during the playoffs, but heâ€™s been quoted numerous times saying that plain old AF1s are his favorite to ball in â€“ without any special additions or considerations.
I myself spent one summer balling in (and subsequently killing) a pair of AF1 midâ€™s on the playground. No complaints here.
2. Why update the look?
Okay, so technology has advanced since â€™82. Judging from the AF25â€™s appearance, one canâ€™t necessarily say the same for design. The AF25 is essentially an AF1 â€“ and thatâ€™s precisely the problem. Itâ€™s TOO similar, and ends up looking like a slightly higher-tech knockoff, instead of the heir to a king. The sole looks cool â€“ as visible technology always does â€“ but it begs the question, why not then just replace the AF1â€™s sole? It can obviously be done â€“ peep the air max 360 â€œOne Time Onlyâ€ collection for proof (old air max models with the air max 360 sole).
Swooshie tried this neo-retro shit in â€˜97/98 with the Air Force Lite. It, too, was a modern hoop shoe â€œinspiredâ€ by the AF1. The Force Lite, though, seemed like a logical progression from the AF1, instead of a str8-up bite. To say it wuz a connoisseurâ€™s shoe is an overstatement â€“ not too many cats bought â€˜em. And if you did, you were likely a baller in the basketball sense, not the Jim Jones variety (though Mos Def rocked a pair, and they got some play in NYC).
I used to give Nike props for not trying to revitalize classic products with â€œupdatedâ€ designs like their comp (adidas and Converse, most flagrantly). Generally, these â€œMilleniumâ€ updates are uber-weak â€“ the exceptions being the adidas Top Tens, Forum and Concord Supremes. But the worst of the bunch is likely the Chuck Taylor 2000 â€“ front-runner for ugliest sneaker ever. And now the Swoosh has joined its brethren in the Bad Ideas department.
When the AF1 dropped in â€™82, it was the apex of technology in a sneaker. It didnâ€™t quite kill Chuck Taylors as a performance shoe (that wuz the adidas Top Tenâ€™s job) â€“ but it certainly helped dig the grave. Back then, the AF1 wuz the ipod and Blackberry of sneakers â€“ a truly innovative product benefiting from new technology. Twenty-five years later, and weâ€™re still rocking AF1s â€“ or just pretending to, in the case of the AF25. Itâ€™s 2007 â€“ shouldnâ€™t we be moving forward just a liâ€™l?