Bella Hadid knows how to make an entrance. On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in October, she glided into the lobby of FN’s Midtown New York headquarters wearing a striking red, white and blue Nike x Kith tracksuit and a crisp pair of Air Zoom Spiridons.
A few minutes later, Hadid, with an entourage in tow, was on-set spinning a basketball on her finger as tunes from Drake; Tyler, the Creator; and other hot musicians played in the background. The trendsetter, who’s just 21, rocked a statement look for the first shot, which included a Fendi gray silk bomber jacket with floral embroidery and Air Force 1 Hi Just Don by Don “Don C” Crawley sneakers. Over the next hour, Hadid — who signed on as a Nike ambassador last November — effortlessly worked four more Air Force One AF100 collaboration styles. They’re all part of a 35th anniversary pack based on the shoe’s most important colorway: white-on-white.
Hadid, who has experienced a meteoric rise in the fashion world, might not be an obvious fit as an Air Force 1 frontwoman — or as a cover star for FN’s annual sneakerhead issue. After all, she’s most often seen walking the runway in heels for top brands including Versace, Fendi and Marc Jacobs. But if Hadid had it her way, she would probably be in sneakers. “I would pair them with everything,” Hadid told FN. “I’ve worn sneakers with a gown, with a short dress, a long dress, sweatpants, tracksuits, shorts. You could wear them with anything.”
A sneaker fanatic for years, Hadid remembers the moment she became hooked. “Growing up, when I figured out you could customize shoes online, that was my No. 1 thing — and Air Force 1 was always my go-to,” she said. “I started to love the low-tops, but in high school, I was obsessed with the high-tops.”
The AF100 includes a style reimagined by one of today’s hottest rappers, Travis Scott, two of the moment’s biggest designers (Virgil Abloh and Crawley), a previously unreleased look for Jay-Z’s former record label Roc-A-Fella Records and a white monochromatic iteration of a prior Acronym collab (designed by Errolson Hugh).
“The triple white is the most ubiquitous of all Air Force 1s, and it’s the one that transcends gender, socioeconomic status, cultures — everyone wears the white-on-white,” said Al Baik, senior creative director of Nike Sportswear footwear.
Sneaker experts with an affinity for the Air Force 1 agree. “You’re going to turn heads if you walk in with Kaws or HTMs — having limited-edition joints makes you stand out — but they still don’t take anything away from the white-on-white,” said “Hawaii” Mike Salman, who participated in Nike’s ranking of the best 100 Air Force 1s of all time 10 years ago.
Abloh’s reimagined Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 ’07 is the first of the five iterations. The collab dropped on Nov. 4 exclusively at Complex Con in Long Beach, Calif. “The Air Force 1 means something beyond basketball. I’m designing it from that point,” explained Abloh. “I’m not designing it as a basketball sneaker. I’m designing it as, like, a cultural signifier. And it has my aesthetic.”
Following the initial sneaker release is the Air Force 1 ’07 “Roc-A-Fella” iteration, which arrives on Nov. 30. After that is the Just Don Air Force 1 High collab Dec. 1, the Air Force 1 Low designed by Scott on Dec. 2 and the Acronym x Lunar Force 1 ’17 collaboration on Dec. 3.
“I wanted to bring a very high-end feel to a respected silhouette in sports culture. I’m just trying to bring a different element to sport — you can think luxury and sport at the same time,” Don C said. “I was happy that the approach of the project was white-on-white because it shows appreciation for the 35 years of this silhouette, but I wanted to switch it up a bit while still respecting the elegance and heritage of the shoe.”
All of the looks except Abloh’s will be available via the SNKRS app and at select Nike retail partners worldwide. “Everyone that we worked with had a love for the Air Force 1, and when you look at the overall cast, it’s amazing to see that diversity,” Baik said.
Hadid admitted it’s tough to pick one favorite from AF100, but she does lean toward two of the looks. “I think everyone knows I love Virgil,” said Hadid. “His shoe is so personal, it’s so distinct, and it’s such a different shoe than you necessarily see all the time because of how personal it is.”
She continued, “And I love Travis’. It reminds me so much of him — it has the grills on it and the Swoosh. I think it’s so cool how you can replace them.”
Get a closer look at the 35th year anniversary pack.