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The Air Force 1 Mid will forever have a place in Air Force 1 history. The iconic design brought newness to the lineage in the mid ‘90s with a striking mid cut and unique leather collar strap, all in classic two-tone colorways. Still relevant years later, the mid-cut icon now moves into a new space with the arrival of the innovative AF1 UltraForce Mid.

Designed by Nike Sportswear Footwear Designer Dylan Petrenka, the idea struck him during his morning commute to Nike World Headquarters. “I started to think about how we couldn’t just come out with a mid as is on the Ultra sole. What new comfort can we provide? ” Petrenka explained.
With the idea in place, he then moved on to how the Air Force 1 Mid can be modernized while improving comfort, fit and breathability. “It was a quick thought of gutting the middle of the shoe and turning the heel into a cozier sock and using full grain leather in the front.”

This idea of “gutting” the shoe led Petrenka to the addition of an internal bootie to create a sock-like fit. While similar to other sock-like models from Nike Sportswear, the internal bootie took on more of a relaxed fit, similar to the iconic Air Mowabb. “At the time we had a lot of silhouettes that had a sock-like fit,” he shared. “I had recently got a pair of Mowabbs so I was stoked on those. I was thinking about how we can bring that type of fit to an Air Force 1 Mid?”
Once the design of the internal bootie was established, Patrenka then shifted to the exterior of the shoe. He described the exoskeleton as something in the same vein as the 1992 Air Flight Huarache, a basketball model that utilized an internal bootie and leather exoskeleton for lightweight performance. “The idea was to do a hybrid of traditional in the forefoot and modern in the heel. Remembering what you need to preserve to make it feel like an AF1,” he explained.
Next, it came down to the details to ensure the innovation was communicated while staying true to the AF1’s original design language. “The final material we chose for the bootie was actually used in the heel of the Kobe I. It’s an open mesh with a spandex to sandwich the perforated foam,” Patrenka shared when discussing the innovation. “You can choose what shapes of perforations go with the foam, so we went with recognizable circles inspired by the AF1’s iconic pivot point.” Additional details include a circular tongue badge also nodding back to the pivot point. At the heel and on the tongue, you’ll notice subtle reflective detailing for maximum visibility. Rolled leather edges were utilized to hide stitch lines and modernize the look in a premium fashion.
In the end, the AF1 UltraForce Mid stays true to the original while taking the design to a new place. An innovative bootie, lightweight Ultra sole and premium detailing improve the shoe’s overall breathability, comfort and aesthetic. Building on what made the originator great, the new AF1 UltraForce Mid now leads the charge into the next generation of Force.
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