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Val Kristopher made a name for himself by de-constructing apparel, specifically denim, in experimental ways that most wouldn’t dare to replicate. Using fire, paint, duct tape, buckles, and other materials, Kristopher makes pieces that typically require a double-take. It all started the same year he began university at 18 years old.

“The brand was formed by the philosophy of ‘messing things up’ to create a positive outcome, instead of a negative one,” says Val. This idea of optimistic ruin inspired Val and his four-person team to create a series of unique Air Force 1s that manipulate, exaggerate, and multiply the shoe’s signature details and include canvas patches and pockets, tape, straps, and text.

Val's approach to reimagining the shoe was fast, instinctual, and focused on redefining the idea of “utility.” “When you think about utility, you think about function and durability,” he says. “To me, utility is the form of story that communicates the design. It puts an image into someone’s head, whether it’s an image of beat-up shoes with patches covering the rips or replacing laces with straps.”

Growing up in Manchester, England, Kristopher knew he was destined for a career in either basketball or fashion. In that sense, he knows the Air Force 1 and its influence across sport and sneaker culture well. “The Air Force 1 is the canvas of all shoes,” Val says. “It’s the only blank shoe that holds a lot of meaning for me, even just by looking at it. You can tell the personality of a person by how they wear their AF1s.”

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