Defining an Era or Error: Air Force 1’s and the Pump

Defining an Era or Error: The Pump & Air Force 1

I had neither shoes while I was growing up, but the impact on hip-hop/urban culture was definitely felt as if you were a kid, and somehow you convinced your mom to buy you a pair of these over-priced sneakers – you were the man. Well, at least you better be, because from coast-to-coast, nation-to-nation, youth were being jumped/jacked/robbed of their footwear. Thus, when something as an increase in youth robberies; related to a particular shoe, then the shoe reflects a definitive era in our society, and becomes a part of our collective culture… anyhow, enough of the preamble, onwards to pics and video:

Reebok the Pump

The original Reebok Pump was made as a collaboration between Reebok’s Paul Litchfield and industrial design firm Design Continuum. It was released in 1989, as a basketball high-top shoe. It was the first shoe to have an internal inflation mechanism that regulated a unique fitting cushion in the upper tongue. The shoe was quite expensive compared to other retail athletic shoes at the time. It became something of a status symbol on urban basketball courts and eventually in suburban high schools.

After the success of the basketball shoe, Reebok designed pump shoes for football, tennis, and track. Some models used a standard CO2 cylinder instead of the pump for weight considerations.

Reebok Pump Commercial from Steve Fuller on Vimeo.

Air Force 1

The Air Force 1 was produced in 1982 and discontinued the following year. It was re-released in 1986 with the modern italic Nike logo with a Swoosh on the bottom on the back of the shoe. Little has changed to the Air Force One since its creation in 1982, although the original stitching on the side panels is no longer present in modern versions of the shoe. Since then, over 1,700 color variations have been produced, bringing in an estimated 800 million USD/year in revenue. The selling of the Air Force Ones online by certain retailers is prohibited by Nike who has restricted supply of the sneaker.

Nike Air Force 1 – Crafting Perfect One from tenk on Vimeo.

Obviously Nike won this battle as the ‘Air Force 1’ shoe remains a cultural staple as many rappers have referenced and even made songs about it (i.e. Nelly and his shameless song ‘Air Force 1). The Reebok Pump did not have the longevity as the Air Force One did, but it still remains as an advancement in shoe technology …. whatever that is worth.

.:: LiBM ::.


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