Nike Air Force I Low Top-
This is the quintessential basketball sneaker. Anyone who plays ball in NYC knows what I'm talking about. The were originally nicknamed "Uptowns" because anyone who wanted a pair had to come uptown to either Harlem or the Bronx to snag a pair. But the ubiquitous shoe, which had it's first run in 1982, has become a legend from the playgrounds to the streets to the NBA to high fashion. The first pros to wear them were Moses Malone and Michael Cooper, but it was really the urban street buzz that took them into the stratosphere, and are considered the best-selling sneakers of all time.
There are three versions-the low top, pictured above, the mid with the strap secured to the shoe and the high top version has a removable strap that goes around the ankle pictured below-
Nike Air Force I Mid Top-
Nike Air Force I High Top (30th Anniversary Edition)-
These sneakers became a fashion statement for trend-setting inner-city youth, and the hip-hop culture took to them with a passion. They weren't just for playing basketball, they were used to dress up, or "looking fresh". They have been produced in a myriad of colors and styles and have graced the runways of some of the biggest fashion shows and red carpet events in the world. They have been worn by many A-List celebrities at the most prestigious of awards shows and ceremonies, but they will always belong to the playground basketball players of NYC.
I personally love them because they are the only sneakers to play ball in IMHO. Problem is, the high tops are produced as limited editions with limited runs and absolutely no advertising whatsoever. The only time I've seen them is when they're already at the stores. The low and mid tops are much more accessible and are produced regularly. But that only means that when you DO see the high top versions, you will need to stock up!!!
So what makes this sneaker so special? There was a culmination of many aspects of street culture that came together at the same exact time to make The Air Force I's so popular. Hip-Hop celebrities gravitated to the styles worn by inner-city youth. Graffiti artists went from tagging on subways to designing some of the more elaborate Air Force I styles that we've seen throughout the years. And of course the streetball players themselves, who love the sneakers to this day even though they are not as popular to play ball in as they used to be. But that has not killed the buzz and excitement whenever a new limited edition of the sneaker comes out.
Here are a couple of videos that speak to the popularity of this amazing sneaker-
Here is NYC streetball legend Bobbito Garcia speaking on the impact of the shoe-