The first Nike Air basketball shoe became a cultural force with minimal advertising. Debuting in 1982 as a highflying hi-top and followed by a low cut edition shortly afterward, the Air Force 1 was the product of years of hard work for designer Bruce Kilgore and his team. A completely new air unit created for the court, a previously unseen silhouette that flexed to protect players, a supportive belt for the ankles, and those tactically placed concentric circles on the outsole redefined what performance shoes could be. Then, when Nike wanted to take it off the market to unleash the next wave of basketball releases, a handful of retailers in Baltimore saw some extra potential, so they made it stay a little longer, creating a coveted object along the I-95.

When the Air Force 1 returned a little later, it never went away. For those looking for real bragging rights, making your own custom or paying a man who knows how to alter that upper made the “Uptown” into an open source experiment in expression. Thousands of official and unofficial colorways later, the shoe that fuelled an if you know, you know breed of connoisseur culture is considered an all time great globally.