Supreme & The Air Force 1: A Collaborative History

When you think of something that’s quintessentially New York, what comes to your mind? Taxicabs? The subway? Bagels? Dollar slices? Pigeons? The classic navy-and-white Yankees cap? There’s many things in New York that have become larger than what they physically are, and over time have come to represent the ethos and spirit of the city. What comes to mind for us when we think of New York? Air Force 1’s and Supreme.

Why? Both have a rich history with the city: the Air Force 1 has been a New York style mainstay since its inception in 1982, coming to be affectionately known as the “Uptowns” due to its popularity in the uptown neighborhoods of the city, most notably Harlem where they grew into the cultural juggernaut that they are today. Supreme was established on Lafayette Street in Soho circa 1994, and his since grown to become one of the biggest and most influential brands in the world of fashion.

Two NY icons, interwoven in the fashion DNA of the most stylish city in the world. It was only a matter of time before they would cross paths … and  the results have been nothing short of spectacular since they did.

Supreme first joined forces with Nike in 2002 for a now-legendary SB Dunk Low, but the first time the two worked together on a pair of Uptowns wasn’t until a decade later, when an Air Force 1 Low was released as part of Supreme’s F/W 2012 collection. Featuring a rough and rugged Cordura upper and a gum outsole and made available in black, olive, and came (the most desirable pair of the three) the minimally-branded first effort between the two titans encapsulated the rough and rugged spirit of both the shoe and the city perfectly.

The Air Force 1 was then put on a collaborative hiatus until F/W 2014, when three high-top colorways were announced as the season’s Nike collaboration. The opposite of the first collaboration in every way, the shoes were loud, bold, and in-your face as their enormous amount of branding and chunky high-top silhouette grabbed your attention and wouldn’t let you turn away. Available in white, red, and black with a “94” on the heel replacing the regular Nike branding and Supreme’s “World Famous” hit on the strap/arc logo on the heel, the shoes sold out instantly (of course), but opinions were divided at first. Many sneakerheads who appreciated the minimal nature of the first collaboration were put off by the loud, borderline over-branded look. However, tides(and tastes) shifted, and now the AF1 high is one of the most desirable Supreme and Nike collaborations on the market with resell prices soaring north of $1,000.

And 2014’s Air Force 1 High wasn’t the final pair that Nike and Supreme would work on either. They say that good things come in threes, and that was certainly the case for Nike and Supreme’s third collaboration. It was 2017 and three years had passed since the last time the two worked on an AF1. A third party was brought into the collaborative fold for the first time ever, and the third shoe was yet another special release. As part of the S/S ’17 collaboration with Comme des Garcons, Supreme released an all-white Air Force 1 low that was inspired by Comme des Garcons SHIRT’s 2010 ad campaign entitled “Paper Surgery.” The eye print adorning the rear lateral and medial side of the shoe provided a stark contrast to the clean white toe box, and the shoes were the most runway-ready AF1 of the bunch yet. Once again, opinions were divided on the sneaker as a whole, but love them or hate them … you couldn’t take your eyes off them (pun totally intended).

The Comme des Garcons Air Force 1’s lead us into the current day and the wild rumors that have been sweeping across the sneaker interwebs this week. Many Supreme leaks and drop pages like the good folks at Supreme Community have reported that Supreme will be releasing three colorways of the Air Force 1 mid as part of their S/S ’18 collection, and they’ve even provided style numbers and color ways (White/White, Black/Black and Cobalt Tint/White) to back up the rumors.

Nothing’s been made official by either party just yet (the image above is the only “official image” that’s been seen so far), but those same rumors indicate that the shoes will be a collaboration with the NBA and feature all-over team logos, harkening back to the glory days of garish all-over logo items like jackets, tees, and hats in the early 00’s. With the Air Force 1 making a thunderous return to popularity last year, and the maximalist trend sweeping through streetwear in full force (the more logos, colors, and patterns the better these days), the shoes, if releasing as rumored will be arriving to the market at the perfect time.

We’ll have to wait till the S/S ’18 season actually drops to really see what’s going on, but we do know one thing: it’s pretty incredible that the once-humble skate shop will now be able to put official NBA logos on its shoes without the threat of a cease and desist order. It appears as if the iconic Air Force 1 will continue to reign “supreme” as always in 2018.

 

What’s your favorite Supreme Air Force 1? Are you excited for the rumored upcoming collab, or is the all-over logo look too loud for you? Sound off in the comments or hit us up and let us know on Twitter!

RDwyer


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