The Air Force 1 Shoe is a product of Nike, Inc. which was released in 1982. The name is a reference to Air Force One, the plane carrying the President of the United States. The shoe was popular in the early 1980s and then again in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These shoes are one of the most popular and sought after items in cities and many suburban areas. Due to their popularity, Air Force 1’s can be custom made by people and sold online. They change the colors of different parts of the shoe like the swoosh, heel, toe, bottom. The shoes are also made with different colors for special occasions such as the Olympics and released in colors commemorating regions such as Puerto Rico, New York City and the West Indies. Some music industry members such as Roc-A-Fella Records and some athletes such as Lebron James and Rasheed Wallace have their own special versions made by Nike that are not for sale to the public.
In the hip-hop sub-culture, the Nike Air Force 1 shoe is a reflection of the individual. Some like “white on whites” while others, go as far as dyeing the inside of the shoe to make them unique. Also of interest, rapper Nelly created a song named after the shoes in 2002. The shoe originally came in a low top and a high top, the latter featuring a removable strap. Nike continues to produce these two variations of the Air Force I and in 1994 they added a Mid top to the lineup with a non-removable strap. The shoe has at times featured smaller rubber “jewel” swooshes and metallic plastic “super jewel” swooshes. In recent years, the quality of materials Nike has used on this model of shoe has declined sharply. Most currently and recently produced Air Force Is feature cheap synthetic leather that lacks the thickness, grain texture and quality of materials used before the new millennium set in. Nike has tried to introduce “premium” models with nicer leathers, but in reality the vast majority of the “premium” models can only begin to compete with the older color combinations that were widely available when they were released. Nike has also produced a few “Lux” colors of Air Force 1’s in Italy which are made entirely of nice Italian leather.