Nike Air Force 1 Shadow: A New Twist on a Classic

Nike Air Force 1 Shadow: A New Twist on a Classic

The Nike Air Force 1 Shadow adds a fun-loving spin on the iconic Nike Air Force 1 design. The Air Force 1 Shadow places female shoe wearers at the forefront, catering specifically to the styling needs and wants of Nike’s women audience.

Think of the Air Force 1 Shadow as a sister sneaker to the classic Air Force 1.

There’s enough classic Air Force 1 DNA on display with this shoe, but Nike adds some noticeable changes that make the Air Force 1 Shadow entirely unique this time around. The shoe is still instantly recognizable and will catch the eye of Air Force 1 enthusiasts. Still, the Air Force 1 Shadow is a footwear design that makes a statement and does more to meet the needs of its target audience with its additional design elements.

The Force is Female

The Air Force 1 Shadow continues Nike’s female empowerment campaign, “The Force is Female.” (And no, The Force is Female has nothing to do with Star Wars.)

Nike’s Force is Female campaign started in the Spring of 2017, intending to celebrate incredible women that are helping to push the culture forward, carving out their own niche, and inspiring women worldwide to follow their dreams.

The campaign was built around the classic Air Force 1s 35th Anniversary as Nike paid tribute to one of their most culturally iconic shoes, releasing multiple iterations that highlighted the shoe’s history.

Nike created multiple versions of the Air Force 1 for women, including a dusty-pink suede colorway. During the Force is Female, Nike also acknowledged various female forces paving the way in their industries and inspiring future generations in the process.

The campaign spotlighted extraordinary and visionary females such as DJ and graphic designer Karla Moy, dancer and choreographer Charm LA’Donna, actress Ruby Rose, Canadian track and field Olympian Alysha Newman, entrepreneur and founder of KNC Beauty Kristen Noel Crawley, and USA Women’s National Soccer team member Casey Krueger.

Karla Moy, who also goes by the alias hustleGRL, said about the Force is Female campaign, “Lifting women should be a way of life. Nike has been doing that for years, it didn’t have to wait for the whole female empowerment thing to become a trend in order for them to implement it into their campaign and their brand.”

With the Air Force Shadow 1, Nike continues its long-standing tradition of female empowerment. Nike is named after the Greek Goddess of Victory, after all. However, this time around, instead of updating a preexisting shoe to add a female element, Nike has created a women-specific shoe in the Air Force Shadow 1 that symbolizes what it means to be a powerful woman in modern society.


It’s Not Just a Shoe… It’s a Statement

Throughout its existence, Nike has tried to make its ubiquitous swoosh logo stand for something. Greatness, innovation, speed, flight, power, motivation, the human body performing superhuman level feats (there’s no better encapsulation of Nike’s brand than the famed image of Michael Jordan taking flight from the free-throw line and soaring through the air as he prepares to throw down a dunk) are all synonymous with the Nike brand.

As a way to make the swoosh stand for even more, Nike declared the year 2019 “Its Year for Women.” To start the year, Nike released its female empowerment “Dream Crazier” campaign to honor the countless female athletes that have unified the masses, defied gender-based discriminations, and inspired generations of female athletes to pursue their dreams.

Narrated by one of the greatest athletes of all time, Serena Williams, the campaign addresses the negative stigma that females athletes face. It focuses on how women’s achievements in sports are generally considered “crazy,” and how, if that’s the case, female athletes should be encouraged to show the world “what crazy can do.”

Nike released the Air Force 1 Shadow, introducing a fresh perspective to the classic Air Force 1 silhouette to end the year. Nike’s goal for the Air Force 1 Shadow was to build upon the strength of the original Air Force 1s while also extending their belief in the constantly shifting paradigm of what Nike represents by leading from a female perspective.

When talking about the inspiration of the Air Force 1 Shadow, Senior Creative Director of Nike Women’s Footwear and designer of the Air Force 1 Shadow, Georgina James, said: “We know women are infinitely diverse. They want something unique, and they want to use sneakers as an expression of themselves and their wardrobes. They also have deep respect and love for the icon. Air Force 1 Shadow is a great example of how we channel desire and create new expressions through silhouette, shape and details, something unique but still familiar each season.”


The Art of Updating a Classic

Over its 40-year lifespan, the original Air Force 1s have gone through thousands of different design variations. The Air Force 1 Shadow is the first variation solely for women and caters to the styling needs and wants of women.

With the Air Force 1 Shadow, Nike seeks to provide a stylish, vibrant, wear-them-every-day type of shoe that pays homage to powerful women around the world. Nike’s adjustments on the Air Force 1 Shadow are both created for and informed by a female perspective.

Nike takes a layered approach with Air Force 1 Shadow, doubling the branding with two eyestays, two mudguards, two back tabs, and two swoosh designs.

There’s a theme of double vision here. At a glance, the Air Force Shadow 1 looks like the same old classic Air Force 1; but by taking a closer look, you’ll see the subtle changes that make this shoe as unique and powerful as the women who wear them.

The double design and shadow layered elements were inspired by women setting examples around the world as forces of change. It’s a shoe made to be bold and to display aspects of excellence, creativity, and distinction front and center.

The Air Force 1 Shadow is an attention-grabbing, confident shoe ready to enhance any outfit, and just like the original Air Force 1s, they’re versatile enough to wear with anything.

One of Nike’s Senior Product Line Managers for Sportswear, Lucy Bower, said the shoe’s vibrant design elements were rooted in meeting the needs of a particular lifestyle, mainly the wearer having a good time. “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.”

While the Air Force 1 Shadow probably won’t be used to play a game of pickup, it will be used to enhance your lifestyle and provide you with comfort and style in your everyday life.

The midsole in the Air Force 1 Shadow gets an exaggerated lift in the form of a thicker sole and foam insole to provide the wearer with more cushion. Nike has also added a grooved outsole. This combination works in unison to ensure the shoe is lightweight, flexible, and comfortable.

The premium materials used in the Air Force 1 Shadow ensure that it’s a durable shoe built to last.


Creative Colorways 

The Air Force 1 Shadow comes in a variety of unique and stylish colorways, ranging from vibrant, to bold, to subtle.

By providing many variations in The Air Force 1 Shadow’s colorways, Nike is attempting to explore the multi-faceted personalities of the women who wear them. Their goal is to provide an Air Force 1 Shadow for every personality, every outfit, and every occasion.

The first three colorways Nike released perfectly encapsulated this goal.

The public’s first glimpse of the Air Force 1 Shadow “Mystic Navy” featured a vibrant colorway combining navy, red, and green on a pale pink background.

The second shoe Nike released, deemed the “Phantom,” showed a more subtle colorway for the Air Force 1 Shadow with a white backdrop and pale pink and red overlays.

The “Pale Ivory” was the third Air Force 1 Shadow, paying homage to women as a force for change with an Easter Sunday-inspired pastel color collage.

The “Triple White” and “Triple Black” colorways pay tribute to the most popular version of the original Air Force 1s and provide the same subtle versatility that Air Force 1 enthusiasts have loved for decades.

Nike continues to explore exciting colorway elements and frequently releases new iterations of the Air Force 1 Shadow to encourage women everywhere make a statement with their footwear.


The Original Air Force 1s: The Shoe that Started it All

The Nike Air Force 1 is one of the most iconic shoes ever created. If there were a Mount Rushmore of sneakers, the Air Force 1 would get exhibited front and center along with the shoe that launched Michael Jordan’s impact on sneaker culture, the Air Jordan 1.

In fact, the Air Force 1s helped pave the way for the Jordan 1s. The Air Force 1’s success helped make it possible for the Jordan 1s and the Jordan Brand to have such a cultural impact on professional sports and athletes creating their own personal brands. One could argue that without the Air Force 1s, the Jordan Brand wouldn’t be the billion-dollar behemoth it is today. The similarities in the design of these two iconic sneaker silhouettes show just how much inspiration the Air Force 1s had on the Air Jordan 1s.

The Air Force 1s are a must-have for sneakerheads everywhere, and most Nike enthusiasts have multiple pairs of Air Force 1s in their closets, making them a staple of their daily wardrobe. Some people even claim that the Air Force 1 is the shoe that birthed modern sneaker culture.

A Classic Design 

The first version of the Nike Air Force 1s—named after the famous plane on which the President of the United States flies—launched in 1982 when a young shoe designer named Bruce Kilgore integrated Nike’s patented Air technology into a pair of basketball sneakers. Kilgore skillfully placed an air pocket in the shoe’s heel to give basketball players the ankle support they needed along with added cushioning and comfort.

The marketing materials for the Air Force 1 highlighted the Air technology with the aptly titled “Air in a Box” slogan.

The first Air Force 1s released in a minimal colorway of white and neutral gray. Inspired by the design of hiking boots, Kilgore built a high-top shoe with a diagonal cut at the top from front to back, providing the same support as other high-tops but with added flexibility.

With basketball courts in mind, Kilgore also designed a unique circular outsole tread to give players exceptional grip. The circular outsole provided players with a “Pivot Point” to let them make precision post moves with ease.

For increased ankle support, Kilgore added an ankle strap, officially named a Proprioceptive Belt, which users were able to remove if they did not like the way it felt. The Air Force 1 was also the first basketball shoe to feature a cupsole, which made the shoe incredibly durable.

The Rest, They Say…Is History

At the time, Nike had been struggling to break into the basketball market, and the Air Force 1 was the shoe that finally helped them do it.

Nike managed to sign six top NBA players, now deemed the “Original Six,” on contracts to wear Air Force 1s on the court: Jammal Wilkes, Mychal Thompson, Moses Malone, Calvin Natt, Bobby Jones, and Michael Cooper. Promotional materials for the Air Force 1 featured these six athletes in white tracksuits, standing on a tarmac in front of a plane with their Air Force 1s on display. The campaign was so successful that Nike would recreate it for the Air Force 1s 25th Anniversary in 2007 with modern baseball legends such as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash.

The Air Force 1 quickly rose in popularity, becoming a staple on the hardwood and a favorite of many amateurs and NBA players. Their rise in popularity prompted Nike to release a low-top version of the shoe in 1983: The Air Force 1 Low.


Some Help from Baltimore

Despite the shoe’s popularity, in 1984, Nike decided to discontinue the shoe.

It seemed the Air Force 1 would fade into cultural obscurity and never be heard from again. However, demand for the shoe remained strong. Sales continued thanks to passionate Baltimore shoe retailers Downtown Locker Room, Cinderella Shoes, and Charley Rudo Sports, who flew out to Nike headquarters and convinced Nike to keep producing and sending them shipments of Air Force 1s. The Baltimore retailers also persuaded Nike to let them sell exclusive colorways of the shoe for their “Color of the Month Club.” The first releases were a white and royal blue colorway and a white and chocolate brown colorway.

The Color of the Month Club was a massive success, with Air Force 1 enthusiasts flocking to Baltimore from around the country and lining up hours before the stores opened to secure a pair. The limited supply of the shoes helped spark demand, making each new release a collector’s item.

The seeds of modern sneaker culture were being planted.

And then, in 1986, Nike caved to increasing pressure and brought the shoe back through a select network of retailers on the East Coast. The Air Force 1s were the first-ever retroed sneaker—which is the practice of re-releasing an old, out-of-production shoe as a collector’s item.

Lasting Legacy 

The Air Force 1 is still going strong, being named the best-selling sneaker of 2021. In 2022, the shoe celebrates its 40th Anniversary. The classic silhouette has undergone thousands of iterations, being re-envisioned by major fashion houses, artists, and Nike designers alike. It’s a canvas for people to make their own, and it’s a vehicle for self-expression and individuality.

The Air Force 1 continues to be an essential staple of the cultural zeitgeist and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

The Air Force 1 Shadow is yet another example of the Air Force 1’s versatility, showcasing how it can always be updated to make a statement and stand for something bigger than just a simple sneaker.

Where to Buy

The Nike Air Force 1 Shadow and original Air Force 1s are available at every major shoe retailer in a wide range of styles, sizes, and colorways.

The Air Force 1 Shadow retails for $120.

The original Air Force 1s retail for $100 in the low-top style and $115 in the high-top style.

To buy a pair, check out Nike, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Foot Locker, Finish Line, and Champs.

Check out StockX, GOAT, Flight Club, and Stadium Goods for collector’s editions and out-of-production colorways.


A New Legacy

The Air Force 1 Shadow reimagines one of sneaker culture’s most iconic shoes. It pays homage to the legacy of the Air Force 1 while incorporating new female-driven design elements.

The result is something wholly unique.

The Air Force 1 Shadow is a bold shoe looking to create a legacy of its own: one that stands for female empowerment.

In the Air Force 1 Shadow, Nike’s swoosh is once again being used as a statement. It symbolizes positive change, inclusiveness, and the power of defying preconceived notions.

The Air Force 1 Shadow says it loud and clear: The Force is Female.