Earlier this week, I had the privilege of visiting New York City for Nike’s launch of the Lunar Force 1 Fuse NRG, which is a less complicated model than its name would indicate. The concept behind the new iteration is simple: take what’s old and make it new again. Sounds easy enough.
Aesthetically, the Air Force 1’s decades-long run is based off its simplicity. We all have owned a pair at one point or another mostly because the silhouette works across different levels, from fashion to sport. They’ve come in hundreds of different colorways and material mash-ups, etc. leaving an AF1 for almost every occasion. After 30 years, the looming question would be how exactly could they make the AF1 new?
Simply put they completely stripped the shoe down to the bare bones and rebuilt it with updated technology.
“Bound by three core design principles—lightweight, breathability and comfort, achieved through the integration of Nike’s Hyperfuse construction and Lunarlon cushioning in some cases—these new relations represent the future of the Nike Air Force 1, joining the thousands of iterations that have elevated the sneaker to collector status. It’s not about replacing the past; it’s about dominating the future.”
We were given a pair of white-on-white Lunar Force to wear and the difference between the staple and the new aren’t night and day. The comparison would be night and maybe a moonlit stroll with a tall, sexy model. Everything that was right with the shoe stayed – meaning the shape and form held true. The upgrade to the cushioning and upper are what makes it so beautiful and intriguing.
Like many, I’ve worn more than my fair share of Forces over the years and we all know one thing: they’re heavier than most other sneakers. By swapping in the Hyperfuse upper, the first noticeable difference is how light they become after the weight is shaved. Instead of walking around with what felt like ankle weights, the new, improved Lunars put them on par with running sneakers. I’m not sure if designer Marc Dolce had it in mind but here’s another dazzling note: the Hyperfuse uppers did not crease. Not even the slightest sign of a wrinkle.
Since we were wearing them around NYC as an extension of the event, I knew my pair was going to be dusted and disgusted anyway so I decided to test them hard. No doing “the walk” for me. We shot hoops in them, jumped puddles, bopped around the Barclays Center during the Knicks-Nets match-up, hopped in and out of cabs and walked blocks (in search of other shoes, of course). Before packing my pair up on Wednesday morning, I gave them a wipedown and they still looked as solid as they did when I first received them Sunday afternoon.
The other clearly noticeable difference: the Lunarlon sole. Not that there was anything wrong with the original Air but why stride around in older technology when comfort is at your disposal? The updated cushioning system gave the bounce back feel throughout the day. Then there’s smaller, but still impressionable change of latching the tongue down as part of an inner-sock bootie. For the past decade of wearing Ones, I’ve never laced them up, which also means the tongue eventually lazies over to the side. That will be no more since it’s strapped down and in place. The bootie also lessens the flip-flop feel of rockin’ the shoes unlaced.
The Lunar Force Fuse 1 was one of five models included in the “Family of Force” collection. The group embodies the “#KeepItComing” spirit and Nike’s goal of not “replacing the past; it’s about dominating the future.” Each of the silhouettes – the Foamposite, the weather-ready Boot, the sleeker, slimmer Downtown and premium level Comfort – provides a variation of the AF1, creating options with a distinct purpose. With multiple shoes stem from the originals, the classic’s DNA is still intact and the AF1 family tree should keep growing for years to come.
Images: Nike, 21 Mercer