February 1, 2016

Nike’s Air Force 1 (AF1) is probably one of the most recognised sneakers around. These iconic shoes, whose roots lie in basketball and holds a legendary status in street culture, has seen over 2,000 iterations over the past 34 years. This year, Nike welcomes the AF1 to their renowned Flyknit family, making it the lightest AF1 ever.

The idea materialised while the brand’s designers were taking 12-hour “inspiration strolls” around Paris in the summer. They were wholly convinced that they could make the AF1 lighter and more flexible, while enhancing the fit and reducing creasing on the toe vamp, and preserving the essence of the original AF1. Nike Footwear Design Director Jonathan Johnsongriffin quickly got to work; he bonded a dark grey Flyknit upper to a 3D-printed prototype of an AF1 sole and used a black marker for the Swoosh and eye soles. And the rest, as they say, is history; a collaborative team of footwear engineers, developers, last engineers, Flyknit programmers, 3D designers and product line managers got together to develop the Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit. The AIR lettering was debossed instead of the usual embossing to make the shoe lighter (talk about small details). Also, they decided to use injected unit rubber tooling instead of polyurethane tooling. They’ve also kept the 52 stars on the rubber toe piece.

All in all, the team has kept the original stance of the tip, saddle, foxing and vamp, as well as the perforations in the vamp by using thicker, firmer yarn on the raised tip and undulating eye stay. Besides being the lightest Air Force 1 ever (about half the weight of the original), it’s also the first Flyknit shoe with a leather Swoosh logo.

Nike Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit, $239-$269. Available at Nike Shaw, Nike Raffles City and various Limited Edition outlets.