Just as architects are constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be built, shoe designers are applying new techniques and textures to their designs every day. And after all, Bruce Kilgore was a sculptor by trade before going on to design the Air Force 1 in 1982.


Likewise, famous sneaker creator Tinker Hatfield was an architect before putting his mind to sneakers. And ironically, he only gave up architecture after Kilgore had given him an early prototype of the Air Force 1. Whether on the busy courts of Harlem or at Berlin’s vast Alexanderplatz, the Air Force 1 has been ruling concrete jungles for over thirty years now. Originally released as the first Nike basketball model with a Nike Air system, the Air Force 1 soon made the transition into the cities and became a perpetual streetwear icon.

The Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit is its latest, lighter-than-ever iteration, with Nike taking an approach that mirrors the architectural textures of the model’s man-made surroundings in this new millennium.


Take for example the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, whose Seattle Central Library was layered with an expanded metal mesh over its entire facade – resulting in a clean, „knit“ look that offers the building and its many visitors air to breathe. Another famous outer-shell texture was envisioned by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & De Meuron. Their Beijing National Stadium, built for the 2008 Olympics and known as „The Bird’s Nest“, presents an intricate grid of iron twigs which at the same time cover the massive structure within and emphasize the lightness of the design’s outer silhouette.

Durable and light – those are also key words when discussing the features of the new Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit: With rubber pods under the toe and heel area as well as exaggerated pivot points which provide smooth transitions in all directions.


The injected unit sole of the Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit is durable enough to double as the outsole, reducing the overall weight of the shoe. An encapsulated Air-Sole unit in the heel provides superior cushioning. But the real magic happens on the upper: Constructed in Flyknit for the first time, it combines strategically crafted panels with a new dimension of support and comfort. This results in an incredibly lightweight feel and new visual textures while remaining true to Air Force 1 design lines – thus signifying the evolution of an urban icon.

(Text: Daniel Giebel)