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Nike Shed Light on the Air Force 1 Shadow

With nearly 35 years on the clock, and more costume changes than a Victoria’s Secret omnibus, you’d think the Air Force 1 had tried it all. Yet, every season, Nike manage to flip the script once again with tweaks and shifts that rethink the model in novel ways. The latest of which is the Air Force 1 Shadow: a design rooted in today’s affections for layering that will make you see double.

Nike invited Sneaker Freaker along to its first showing in Portland, where we listened to Lucy Bower, Senior Product Line Manager for Nike’s Sportswear team, as she shed light on the Shadow.

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‘It’s an idea of double vision,’ says Bower, explaining the prominent Swooshes and heel patches that ‘shadow’ their counterparts. Look closer, and you’ll see more mirroring in the design. Just under the toe box guard lingers further layers – same for the eyestay – and the top lace eyelet is styled to be disconnected and hanging. Pair this with the new avenues the Shadow explores with colour combinations, and it almost feels as if the design would benefit from 3D glasses.

If the purposeful overdesign seems familiar, you’re likely thinking of Nike’s Air Force 1 Jester XX, which somewhat informed the Shadow. ‘The Jester was super well received, and the team is obsessive over how they can push an icon but still stay true,’ says Bower. It’s the classic Nike binary of being inventive with ideas and invested in history. And sporting pedigree didn’t fall by the wayside for the Shadow. Bower and her team nodded to hardcourt heritage by taking measures to strip clunk from a resolutely chunky shoe. Even though it has a raised, higher heel, Bower confirms that it’s been ‘cored out to ensure that it is still lightweight’.

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But, knowing that most of you won’t be playing games of pick-up in the Shadow, Bower says the shoe’s design ethos was more rooted in good times. ‘[It’s about] having fun, doing something playful, super interesting, and amplifying all key branding details. It’s very simple and pure in that sense.’

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Nike’s new Air Force 1 Shadow will hit Nike stores very soon in a number of colourways.

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