Sneakerheads have a love-hate relationship with the United States Postal Service. We have to salute the men and women in blue for regularly delivering our needless purchases. On the other hand, our packages can never arrive soon enough — especially as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the system.
Nike will soon pay homage to the sneaker industry's most essential workers with an Air Force 1 taking cues from USPS packaging. The hilariously meta sneaker will come under Nike's "Type" series, which creates playful experiments with existing silhouettes.
Here, the Air Force 1 Low gets a foam-like shroud around the upper with a repeating print reminiscent of the Postal Service's Priority Mail packaging extending down onto the midsole. A faux, Nike-branded shipping label is slapped onto the sneaker's heel — and here's hoping it stays permanently affixed.
The AF1 gets weird — Setting aside all the design cues pulled from the USPS, this edition of the Air Force is still quite strange. A cinch lacing system appears alongside the usual makeup instead of replacing it, which may be entirely superfluous. Underneath is a tongue made out of what looks like reflective nylon only partially covering a foam fill, similar to what Virgil Abloh did with many of his Nike shoes.
The branding is off-kilter, too, as the tongue logos are tucked away into the corners and the mustache badge has been flipped upside down — perhaps as a nod to packages often being placed the wrong way. And on the insole, a wordy graphic explains the significance of the Air Force 1 Experimental to go along with the worn-away "N. 354" stamp on the Swoosh.
While the majority of the sneaker comes in an off-white, the metallic shade of blue that makes up the outsole, tongue, and the lining is similar to that of the USPS's pants, shorts, and hats. The red accents are more subtle but help complete the look of the Postal Service.
Will they ever show up? — We're only in the early leak phase of this USPS AF1, meaning an indeterminate start for the sneaker waiting game. The sneakers are supposed to release sometime this year, so you can expect delivery to be filled by, like, 2022.
I've seen a nontrivial number of postal workers rocking hot kicks while on the job, which feels like a uniquely New York City phenomenon. My greatest hope is that they'll get their hands on the USPS AF1 so I can compliment them on their sneakers before asking where the hell my package is.