While the tide of sneaker culture is repeatedly rising and falling, washing ashore new trends and brands, while sucking others into the depths, certain things will never change. The Nike Air Force 1 is certainly a constant.
To honor the silhouette’s 35th birthday, Nike paired up with five creatives to re-imagine the timeless basketball, designed by Bruce Kilgore and released in 1982. Naturally, as a collaborator with Jordan Brand, Nike tapped Don Crawley for his input on the “AF100” collection.
Below, Don Crawley explains everything you need to know about his collaborative Air Force 1. The Air Force 1 Hi “Just Don” releases on December 1.
Tell me more about yourself. Where does your inspiration come from?
Don C: I’m from Chicago, and have always been inspired by what the streets of Chicago have instilled in me. I originally worked in finance, but changed my path into doing things that I wanted to do in life. As I started to move around and travel, I noticed that everywhere I would go, there were really segregated points of view on various topics. I wanted to have universal point of view, and gain knowledge from everywhere I went.
Where did the connection to sport come in?
I played basketball growing up recreationally and learned a lot from the sport. I always try to apply
the principle to know your weakness and turn it into an advantage.
Where did your passion for sneakers start, specifically Air Force 1?
It’s the norm today for kids to want to be shoe designers. I never wanted to grow up and I know the only way I could stay a kid is if I stay in sneakers. I loved sports, but I couldn’t participate, so I just wanted to figure out what’s my lane to participate and be a part of the sports culture. I always had Jordans as a kid, it wasn’t until high school I started wearing Air Force 1s. One of my close friends from the city had Air Force 1s and I envied him. He had high top and low tops, I wanted to rock them because of him. My first pair was the all black high tops with the white Swoosh, I’ll never forget it.
How did you approach designing the shoe?
I had a couple of initial ideas. Basketball is the sport I like the most, so I gravitated towards designing the high. I wanted to bring a very high-end feel to a respected silhouette in sports culture. I’m just trying to bring a different element to sport, you can think luxury and sport at the same time. I was happy that the approach of the project was white on white because it shows appreciation for the 35 years of this silhouette, but I wanted to switch it up a bit while still respecting the elegance and heritage of the shoe.
How did you work with Nike to design the shoe?
I knew I wanted a premium leather and to mix up the best quality of material and fabrics, and we did just that. There were details from Air Force 2 and 3 that I wanted to bring into the shoe and I appreciate Nike giving me the freedom to push the limits there. Most of my products have embroidered embellishments which was key in the design. We worked together on the decision to have the lateral and medial Swoosh be a different look. It was the ultimate collaborative effort.
You talk about the importance of family; how does this translate into the product?
We’re talking about the Air Force 1. It’s the OG, the grandfather, the one that started it all. I always feel you have to be down with your family, because that’s who is going to be there for you. Family doesn’t always mean blood, but you have to keep them close and respect the ones that are looking out for you. I just wanted to pay respect to this iconic silhouette, and make sure kids really appreciate what it means to stick with your family.
What inspired the medial and the lateral side being different?
The whole purpose was being able to have different lateral and weave in the textures. When you turn a certain way, you get a different look. I wanted to mix it up as much as possible.
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- Photography & Interview: Nike / Highsnobiety