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Air Force 1 Experimental

The Nike Air Force 1 Experimental is part of the brand’s N. 354 range, which honors Nike sneakers past and present by updating existing models with bold, innovative features. Designed primarily for men, the Air Force 1 Experimental is a low-top sneaker that truly embodies this ethos through its unconventional upper made using a vacuum-sealed treatment over a foam material that gives it a look all of its own. As a result, barely any stitching is evident, though minimal amounts remain on the eyestay and the lateral edge of the heel panel. Instead, curved ridges emerge out of the foam to show the dividing lines between the overlays, and swooshes bulge from its sides. On some designs, you can even make out slight dimples in the toe box where the perforations would normally be.

Though it looks like there is a thin sheet of plastic on top of the outer, complete with crinkles and creases, it is actually part of the soft foam underneath, which has a spongy, cratered appearance. Some pairs of AF1 Experimentals have graphics locked into the outer layer, such as the Air Force 1 text that appears repeatedly over the gray outer of the Suns colorway, as well as the brown upper and yellow midsole of the Archaeo Brown. On the white exterior of the Postal Ghost, the same text has a more faded appearance, while the captivating Halloween model has a series of spooky patterns across its glow-in-the-dark outer. Other than these sneakers, many Experimentals simply have the N. 354 project code written across the lateral swoosh, though the Black Glow colorway is one notable exception, its mostly black upper exhibiting no additional text or graphics, and the all-white Pure Platinum is another. This code can also be seen on a neon yellow label that bridges the upper and the midsole at the back of the shoe. Below it are the words “This label is your guarantee of quality” and “Nike Air Force One Experimental”.

Alongside the standard set of laces, which are tipped with metal aglets, the Nike Air Force 1 Experimental includes an elasticated drawstring that can be used to tighten the shoes, allowing the wearer to leave the laces loose if they prefer. This flexible cord hangs above the eyestay, and there is an adjustable toggle at the top to secure it. At the other end, a plastic clip with Nike text can be used to attach it to the loop at the bottom of the eyestay. Under the laces rests a broad, puffy tongue with exposed foam along the rim. Nike branding has been embroidered into its lateral side just below the peak to make room for a convenient pull tab in the center.

A second pull tab sticks out from the heel, below which a panel emerges from the foam upper. As well as the fine line of stitching running down its lateral side and along the heel strip below, it features debossed Nike Air branding that has been flipped upside down for an added twist. On some designs, this text comes in the same tone as the rest of the upper, as is the case on the Racer Pink edition, which has a radiant shade of pink across the whole of its glossy outer. In contrast, the Sail release has bright orange lettering on its off-white heel panel. All of this has been constructed on top of the typical Air midsole and a rubber outsole with the recognisable concentric circle tread. However, the look is quite unparalleled owing to the plastic wrapping that spills out from the upper and folds down over the whole midsole. Random creases appear all around its sides – a feature that brings it a somewhat edgy look.

Like other sneakers in the N. 354 range, an intriguing message has been typed across the insole of the Air Force 1 Experimental alongside a tiny, sketched swoosh. It says “The ‘AF1 Experimental – Type’ design is based on an oxygen mask used in the Nike Sports research lab”. These words offer a small insight into the concept behind this captivating men’s model, which is uniquely experimental.

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