This is the story of the unbreakable bond between Air Force 1 and Baltimore.
Forty years of the legendary Air Force 1.
Have you ever wondered how the Air Force 1 has always been at the top of Nike sales, even 40 years after its release?
As we know, this is a very rare privilege in Sneaker Culture: many models are icons, it’s true, but they get fished out of the archives every few years, return overbearingly to the top of sales for a given period, and then systematically fall back into oblivion.
Models like the Air Monarch have been “adopted” by “dads” for their comfort and hated by collectors and connoisseurs. Only one sneaker has managed to bring these two worlds so different and far apart into agreement: the all-white Air Force 1 Low-Cut.
The best-selling shoe of all time.
In 2012, sporting goods analyst Matt Powell told the New York Times that the Air Force 1 Low White sold about 12 million pairs in 2005, more than two decades after its year of release-a phenomenon more unique than rare in the Sneakers Game.
What has decreed its incredible fortune? Collaborations, limited editions, and the essential yet refined silhouette have helped give it enviable prestige and pass it down to new generations.
It seems unbelievable to discover that Nike’s intent, two years after the release in 1984, was to shelve the AF1 in favor of what would be the next technology to come out: inevitably, silhouettes with the full-length Air unit would follow that were more refined than the Force 1, naturally downgrading it.
Instead, something extraordinary and unpredictable occurred in Baltimore.
The low-slung model became one of the most popular sneakers of 1983, thanks to a wide collection of different colors and the “Color of the Month” initiative, promoted by some Baltimore retailers, who were sending increasingly large orders to Nike in response to continued demand for the model in the city.
In the meantime, Nike made the final decision to stop producing the model, creating quite a few problems for Harold Rudo, known by the pseudonym “Mr. Shoe,” who ran several stores in the city: the Air Force 1s were the shoes he sold the most, and this would jeopardize his Business.
Armed with determination, “Mr. Shoe” set out for Nike’s Head Quarter in Oregon for a face-to-face confrontation with managers to convince them to continue producing Air Force 1s. The managers proved immovable on their positions.
At that point the audacious Rudo placed a massive order for the model, “forcing” celebrities, athletes and fans to come all the way to Baltimore to purchase a pair. For many, Harold is the real reason Nike has continued to produce Force 1s.
After several campaigns organized by Sneakers fans, the company was forced to reconsider its position and continue producing the model, which would also become its best-selling and most famous in the world.