The Nike Air Force 1 is one of the Swoosh’s flagship silhouettes and undoubtedly one of its most iconic styles ever since making its inaugural debut back in 1982.
Designed by Bruce Kilgore, Nike’s Director of Research and Development at the time, the model has since been reinterpreted in countless variations that still maintains modern sensibilities till this day and shows no signs of slowing down.
Essentially facilitating the icon’s enduring status, Kilgore sat down with Nike in a new interview and shared his memories of the original design process of the Air Force 1 and more, as he also went on to design a tennis line-up after which included the Nike Avenger, Adversary, Air Ace, Air Pressure and the Air Jordan 2.
Here’s what we learned from the conversation.
…on initial manufacturing mishaps that eventually led to the form we know today — thanks to some sage advice from a sock-liner distributor
BK: “He said, ‘I can get that mold made for you. I guarantee either the tooling will be right, or it will be free,’” Kilgore recalls. “So I gave him the drawings, and maybe five or six weeks later he brought me some soles, and they were perfect. He introduced us to the mold makers in Spain and then, through us, they were taught how to make multicolored midsoles and cup soles.”
…on initially being built in the USA and was the first slip-lasted Nike shoe, a construction method wherein the upper is pulled over the last and then attached to the midsole.
BK: “We were just learning how to do that in Exeter, [New Hampshire, home to Nike’s first Sports Research Lab]. Some running shoes were being made nearby in Maine, but the Air Force 1 became part of a production center on Water Street in Exeter, which also produced the Nike Rivalry.”
…on wear-test samples of the Air Force 1 being delivered to college players by Kilgore himself.
BK: “We just drove around. He knew the schools and the people of them. I was just the designer along for the ride, there to talk to the athletes and get their responses.”
…on realizing five years after the shoe’s initial release that the AF1 became popular.
BK: “I was in Taiwan in 1987 and had gone to see a factory, and they were telling me about the Air Force 1. I said, ‘I didn’t realize we were still making it.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, man, we’re always making the Air Force 1.’ I was completely clueless.”
…on not having any original AF1 shoes in his archive.
BK: “Somebody told me they were doing a tour and the shoes never came back. The original size 8s I made for myself are gone. Whoever has them, I’d like them back.”
…on not wearing Air Force 1’s often, but boasts a very special one-of-one edition from a fellow Nike designer.
BK: “Mark Smith made me a custom pair, engraved with some personal memories. It has some memory foam on the inside, along with some personal comments on the sock liner. Those I cherish and continue to wear.”
Read the rest directly over at Nike.
- Source: Nike