As much as they are perhaps the signature—and certainly the most profitable—personally worn design objects of our times, the mainstream surprisingly pays little attention over the creation of athletic shoes. That’s not to our benefit, not only because there’s insufficient general awareness of the problematic manufacturing of sneakers, but because the very interesting, very vital creative stories behind this entire category of design are only heard in small circles.
Perhaps a slight turn towards mainstream appreciation of that process is the upcoming release of Nike’s AF1-Type in “Summit White.” As part of the brand’s ongoing N. 354 line, the Type 1 takes on the old Air Force 1 low platform. Reimagine what a pre-production prototype of the iconic model would be complete with a forefoot that suggests design-studio kitbashing, faux hand-drawn Sharpie numbering, simulated hand stitching, and a transparent skin on the inner sides. It suggests a mock-up of a future product, a gesture that points all the way back to the shoe’s creation in 1982 with a somewhat more modern tongue that references the present.