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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. The AF1 Experimental truly embodies this through its unconventional upper made using a vacuum-sealed treatment over a foam material that gives it a look all 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 the 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 such as “Air Force 1” locked into the outer layer, but most simply have the N. 354 project code written across the lateral swoosh. 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 Experimental includes an elasticated drawstring that can be used to tighten the shoes as well, 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. Where many models have a tongue patch, the Air Force 1 Experimental has a convenient pull tab, so the Nike branding has been offset and embroidered into the lateral side of the tongue.

    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.

    All of this has been constructed on top of the typical rubber outsole with a concentric circle tread and an Air midsole. 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 model, which is uniquely experimental.

    Rank the Nike Air Force 1 Experimental

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