The All-Time Greatest Nike Air Force 1s: Part 2
Naturally, there are far too many incredible AF-1 releases to limit a best-of list to just 10 entries. Thus, we’re back with the second installment of our retrospective. This time around, a couple of HTM colabs make the list, as does 2009’s Halloween-inspired release and Stash’s uber-limited ‘One Night Only’ drop – an AF-1 that many, 16 years later, still consider to be the best of all-time.
Check out part two below, and stay tuned for more best-ever retrospectives as we continue showcasing the silhouettes most loved by ‘heads the world over.
HTM x Nike Air Force 1 Low ‘HTM 1’ (2002)HTM x Nike Air Force 1 Low ‘HTM 1’ (2002)
The HTM collaborations have been responsible for some of the all-time best Nike drops, and the first-ever HTM AF-1 is no exception. Released in 2002, the design was available in both black and brown colourways, each with leather construction, contrast stitching, special packaging, and custom hang tags. The kicks are still one of the cleanest Air Force 1 collaborations to ever see the light of day, despite their uber-limited availability – they were exclusive to Europe, Japan, and Hong Kong, and limited to just 1,500 individually-numbered pairs.
HTM x Nike Air Force 1 Low ‘HTM 2’ (2004)HTM x Nike Air Force 1 Low ‘HTM 2’ (2004)
Following the success of 2002’s original HTM AF-1 drop, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker came back with a croc-embossed successor. As dope as those were, we’re partial to the all-white version of the design that arrived a couple of years later. 2004’s release put a premium spin on the white-on-white classic and was resurrected with fragment branding – along with a few of the other HTM AF-1 colabs – in 2008.
Nike Air Force 1 Low ‘Savage Beast’ (2009)Nike Air Force 1 Low ‘Savage Beast’ (2009)
When it comes to holiday inspiration, Halloween has been responsible for some of the better limited-edition drops out there. 2009’s ‘Savage Beast’ AF-1 low-top is undoubtedly one of the best of all-time, and was a nod to Gossamer – the hairy orange monster from Looney Tunes. Naturally, the kicks were covered in orange pony hair, and coupled the look with frayed white canvas applications and a classic gum rubber outsole.
Nike Air Force 1 Low Low ‘Easter Egg’ (2006)Nike Air Force 1 Low Low ‘Easter Egg’ (2006)
One glance at the ‘Easter Egg’ low-tops and you know these Forces were released during the height of the patent leather-covered AF-1 boom. 2006’s Easter drop, the shiny kicks came in a Medium Mint/Lemon Frost colourway, and paired pastels of purple, green and yellow with shiny patent leather construction and a stark white midsole. Last but not least was a cracked egg graphic on the tongue.
A-COLD-WALL* x Nike Air Force 1 High (2017)A-COLD-WALL* x Nike Air Force 1 High (2017)
Before Samuel Ross turned his attention to the old Zoom Vomero 5, A-COLD-WALL*’s head honcho took on Nike’s most iconic silhouette. Ross covered the leather and suede high-tops in neutral hues and made a couple of bold modifications to the construction of the classic design, ditching most of the eyelets while reducing the Swoosh to a perforated silhouette of the sweeping logo. Finally, a smattering of ACW* logos made sure there was no mistaking who customised these.
Nike Air Force 1 Mid ‘Wheat’ (2001)Nike Air Force 1 Mid ‘Wheat’ (2001)
It might be hard to believe given the smattering of releases in recent years, but there actually was a time when Timberland-inspired ‘Wheat’ kicks were nowhere to be found. You can thank 2001’s mid-top original for kicking off the eventual ‘Wheat’ craze, as they perfectly channelled the look of the iconic work boot with a flax-coloured nubuck upper, gum rubber outsole, and rope lacing.
Nike Air Force 1 Low ‘3M Snake’ (2001)Nike Air Force 1 Low ‘3M Snake’ (2001)
Everyone loves the classic ‘Cocoa Snake’ drop, but – depending on who you ask – those aren’t even the best Air Force 1s to rock snakeskin. For some, that award goes to 2001’s hard-to-find Quickstrike, which rock faux snakeskin Swooshes to go with an upper of tumbled black leather and eye-catching 3M reflectivity in silver.
mita x Nike Air Force 1 Low (2004)mita x Nike Air Force 1 Low (2004)
For their 2004 collaboration, Japanese icons mita sneakers came correct when they took on the Air Force 1 Low. Highlighted by impeccable colour blocking, and a variety of premium materials, the design paired smooth black nubuck with bright green patent leather and grey ostrich-embossed toes.
Stash x Nike Air Force 1 High ‘One Night Only’ (2003)Stash x Nike Air Force 1 High ‘One Night Only’ (2003)
There’s a reason many consider Stash’s ‘One Night Only’ collaboration from 2003 to be the single greatest Air Force 1 drop of all-time. Limited to just 1,000 pairs, the kicks were packed into special suitcase-style boxes and distributed to just three cities – NYC, London and Tokyo. Further adding to the exclusivity, each regional release varied ever so slightly, and came with different coloured boxes with outsole graphics to match. These remain some of the toughest AF-1s to cop, although 231 pairs were re-released in 2007 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the silhouette. Finally, Stash revisited the design with an all-white drop in 2017 as a part of the AF-100 releases.
Nike SF-AF1 (2017)Nike SF-AF1 (2017)
Nike gave the Air Force 1 one of its most successful in-house makeovers of all time when they introduced the SF-AF1 in 2017. The militarised version of the classic high-top was modified to feature everything from a gusseted tongue and heavy duty metal lacing grommets to molle-style webbing down the heel and two different ankle straps. Some versions of the design even employed a woven paracord strap as a nod to the survival bracelets favoured by the armed forces.