Sneaker culture as we know it started with the Air Jordan 1 in 1985, but it was already beginning to take shape in the years prior. One of the most important pre-Jordan designs is 1982's Nike Air Force 1, the brand's first basketball sneaker to use Air technology. Designed by Bruce Kilgore (who also designed the infamous Air Ship worn by Michael Jordan and was the co-creator of the Air Jordan 2, along with Peter Moore), the Air Force 1 wasn't supposed to turn into a mainstream phenomenon. It wasn't even supposed to make it far beyond the one-year mark, as retros just weren't really a thing at the time.
As the story goes, Nike was convinced to keep the AF1 in production at the urging of a handful of Baltimore retailers. Touting the city's admiration for the would-have-been discontinued sneaker, the owners of Cinderella Shoes and Charley Rudo Sports (and later Downtown Locker Room) put together a "color of the month" program where each retailer stocked its own exclusive styles of the sneaker. As the decade progressed, the Air Force 1's appeal would captivate cities like New York (where the sneakers earned the “Uptowns” nickname) and Philadelphia before going worldwide. A favorite of hustlers, ball players, style-savvy youth, and seemingly everyone in between, the AF1 was here to stay.
Through the years, the sneaker has seen countless color-up, material, and technology alterations, yet the enduring silhouette is still as popular as ever. As it approaches the 40-year mark, we decided to poll some of the Air Force 1's most passionate collectors to find out what they think the best pairs of all time are. Getting a diverse group of sneakerheads to come to a consensus is no small task, but we crunched the numbers and settled on a ranking that even the most die-hard fans should be able to agree with.
These are the Top 10 Nike Air Force 1s of All Time.