Nike Air Force 1 ‘Fresh’ Versus ‘Colour of the Month’: Breaking Down the Differences
White-on-white Nike Air Force 1s should be in every person’s sneaker rotation. These staples are typically available as general releases all year, but the Swoosh have seen fit to elevate the classic kicks in recent seasons. Right now, the ‘Fresh’ and ‘Colour of the Month’ editions are two variants of the all-white AF-1 that are worth having a closer look at. They’re very similar yet incredibly different at the same time.
The underlying concept of these Uptowns informs the rest of their design. The ‘Fresh’ pair, as its name suggests, is based on the perpetual struggle of keeping white-on-whites (and, to a lesser extent, ‘Triple Black’ pairs) just that. White leather Forces tend to look a bit worse for wear after a few runs and are often best enjoyed the first time. In fact, some rap figures have been known to wear their pairs precisely once before moving on to another! The ‘Fresh’ has various features built in to keep them looking good longer.
The ‘Colour of the Month’ is more of a historical homage to the AF-1’s early history. Its features are designed to be closer to vintage specifications and packaging, something that becomes evident the more they are observed.
Toeing the Line
One of the biggest differences between the ‘Fresh’ and ‘COTM’ pairs is the toe box, both in appearance and structure. The former uses the incumbent AF-1 shape that was revamped circa 2007, which is discernible by the flat throat panel and lack of Swoosh embroidery. However, the key practical difference is that the vamp is slightly lined to help prevent the unsightly creasing common across the forefoot.
Meanwhile, the ‘COTM’ uses a toe box reminiscent of late-1990s and early 2000s AF-1s, which sees a curved throat branded with an embroidered Swoosh. From the top down, the profile of the toe box is ever so slightly more pointed than the post-2007 shape.
Leather Is Leather
The general release version of the white AF-1 uses a fairly low grade of leather that appears to have its grain corrected for a consistent outer appearance. It’s also quite prone to creasing due to its thinness, and it discolours when dirty or damaged.
The ‘Fresh’ also likely uses corrected grain leather (which is fairly common in sneaker manufacturing) but opts for a smoother finish. According to Nike, this is so the upper is easier to wipe down and clean without any dirt creeping into the fine pores of the leather. Leather is also used throughout the upper and lining for similar purposes.
Similarly, the ‘COTM’ also uses corrected grain leather with a consistent finish, but it exhibits more of a pebbled texture as used on older AF-1s, though it’s likely just a cosmetic feature. It feels a little thicker than the ‘Fresh’ throughout the upper, with the exception of the nylon tongue.
There are various factors defining the ‘Fresh’ and ‘COTM’ pairs. As the former is focused on keeping white AF-1s looking clean for as long as possible, every component has to be dialled in. This goes right down to the Nike Air branding on the heel and tongue, which are debossed instead of embroidered. In theory, this is because smooth branding is less likely to accrue dirt and grime. There is some embroidery, however, located behind the tongue, reading out ‘EASY TO CLEAN’, ‘BREATHABLE’ and ‘SOFT LEATHER’ across three lines. The ‘Fresh’ branding is also found stamped on the leather-topped perforated insole, a feature designed to help keep the wearer comfortable.
The ‘COTM’ uses a classic woven grosgrain label stitched onto the tongue, while its heel ‘Nike Air’ branding is embroidered in an all-caps font that differs from the standard wordmark. A key difference with this particular white-on-white colourway is its use of a ‘jewel’ Swoosh – popularised by the model in the late 1990s – and a milky white ice sole.
So far, it’s the small details on the shoes that separate them. The differences are even greater beyond the pairs themselves. The ‘Fresh’ is packaged in a regular black Nike shoe box reserved for premium lifestyle models, and the ‘COTM’ comes in the classic black, red and brown design that was used throughout the 1990s.
On the accessory front, the ‘Fresh’ takes its moniker to the next level by including a second set of white laces to keep things crisp – new laces can really breathe a second wind into some tired shoes. Like the other colourways in the series that preceded it, the ‘COTM’ comes with a small toothbrush in reference to the old practice of OG sneakerheads carrying one with them to scrub off any errant dirt. Funnily enough, Nike should’ve included one with the ‘Fresh’!
The Nike Air Force 1 ‘Fresh’ and ‘Colour of the Month’ are each meritorious editions of the classic white-on-white Uptown, but it’s up to the wearer to decide which pair is best for their needs. Easier yet, just get both! They’re available now at Swoosh retailers, including Up There.