AJ Tracey, Little Simz, Leah Williamson & Jadon Sancho on the Legacy of the Nike Air Force 1 in London

From strictly underground to street staple.

November 20th 2017

Four Londoners are sharing their takes on the Nike Air Force 1.

In the late 90s, the Air Force 1 had a strict underground following in London. It wasn’t embraced by fashion, nor did celebrities, footballers or musicians celebrate it. Instead there was an organic street embrace that was defined by a particular way of styling the shoe.

A collector from West London, Magdi Fernandes explains: “On the road, all black was favoured and it was laced with one cross lace from the bottom lace hole to the top. No other city was lacing shoes that way.”

The AF1 gained a cult following in the 2000s as JD Sports began offering limited edition exclusive colourways. And today, despite the hyped collaborations and limited runs, the shoes organic, underground buzz still abounds in London.

AJ Tracey

“I’ve grown up in the Air Force 1. It is just the best silhouette. You can see that other trainer designs have since tried to copy the style — but it’s an original, and will always be the cleanest.

London influences the way that I dress a lot. My style is a cross between utility streetwear with high-fashion and designer. A lot of people have the misconception that style is about money or owning the newest drop but it’s not. Style is about making whatever you wear your own.”

Jadon Sancho

“Growing up in London, everyone had a pair of Air Force, from the most fashionable person to the least. If there were a London starter pack, you’d have Air Force in them.”

Leah Williamson

“Trainers are a huge part of the London lifestyle. The urban roots of the Air Force have been merged with the culture of fashion in the city — it’s the style capital! That inch of a sole gives you a platform to stamp your ground and be accounted for. It’s not to be worn without a bit of attitude and confidence — certainly not something London is lacking.”

Little Simz

“My first Air Force 1 pair was white with a red sole. I’ll never forget how much I loved those trainers; I used to wear them everywhere! Still, I’ve always been a fan of the classic whites. I’d usually wear them with a tracksuit. Nice and simple.”