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Air Force 1 Shell

The Nike Air Force 1 Shell is a high-top shoe made for women. Inspired by seasonal outerwear, the upper of this sneakerboot is made of a synthetic waterproof shell material that makes it perfect for walking in the snow. Underneath, it features an Air midsole and a rubber outsole, with the AF1’s traditional concentric circle grip allowing the wearer to maintain traction in slippery conditions. Meanwhile, a fleecy sherpa fabric insole warms the bottom of the foot by offering insulation against the cold.

Just above the midsole, a woven nylon mudguard encircles the entire foot, and its ends meet at a seam in the medial midfoot. While versions like the Platinum Violet use the same tone on both the mudguard and the upper, those such as the Desert Sand vary the colour, here through purple on the former part and light beige on the latter. The upper itself features bands of stitching that delineate its different segments, but there are no overlays in the forefoot or heel. Diagonal lines of thread have been sewn into the top of the collar, which is raised above the ankles, and further strands move upwards on an angle from the midfoot towards the heel. These lines stop as they meet the elaborate heel strip – a wide band of material with additional stitching, including a zigzag line woven down the middle and a criss-cross box design embroidered into the bottom. Some versions of the Air Force 1 Shell don various colours on these elements, with the Plum colourway exhibiting blue thread at the back, purple on the sides and yellow across the rectangular patch that sits just above the heel of the midsole. Others like the Sail model keep things more uniform as its stitching comes in the same off-white hue as the outer.

Matching the woven heel strip is a similar one that runs up the tongue and has three loops near the tip for the elasticated laces to thread through. These disappear into the collar at the top of the eyestay, allowing the AF1 Shell to be tightened using a combination of the pull band on the tongue and the toggle protruding from the heel rather than conventional tying. The eyestay itself overlays the rest of the upper and features embroidered ringlets around each eyelet. Similar embroidered rings surround the lace holes on the heel and tongue, as well as the two imitation ventilation ports in the medial midfoot, which are actually closed off to prevent water entering the shoe. There is also a further protective covering obscuring the lateral set of eyelets that is decorated with diagonal stitching.

This women’s boot is adorned with its own special set of branding elements. To begin with, the swoosh is printed onto the lateral sidewall but not the medial one. It often comes in a different colour to the upper so that it is clearly visible, even on monochrome colourways like the sea blue Midnight Turquoise and the vibrant green Volt. There is also a tag with AF1 text on it emerging from behind the lateral edge of the eyestay that usually varies in colour from the outer, for example, on the black edition, where it appears in a light shade of grey. Similar tonal variation occurs on the medial flank in the form of a unique patch which is attached via zigzag stitching at a little over ankle height. It contains three sets of text that tell the story of the Air Force 1. The first has the words “Nike AF1 1982”, commemorating the year the first in this iconic line was released. The second contains a set of coordinates: 45.4871’N, 122.8037’W, which marks a point at Southwest Farmington & Hall, a crossroads in the centre of Beaverton near Nike’s headquarters. The final piece is possibly the most surprising. It reads “94FT X 50FT” and sits next to a tiny swoosh. Far from being random measurements, these are actually the dimensions of a regulation basketball court in the NBA, ensuring that the Shell gives a nod to the basketball trainers that formed the sporting roots of the AF1. This tiny detail shows that, even though the Nike Air Force 1 Shell is a winter boot, it still owes its foundations to the legendary original design.

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