A new partnership begins
Nike began its partnership with French fashion label Jacquemus in 2022 with a collection of summer apparel and two Air Humaras covered in classy details like a miniature golden swoosh on each sidewall and a reworked lacing system inspired by 1998’s Nike Pocket Knife. The brands soon followed this up with another pair in bold pink, signaling that the original collection might not just be a one-off. At the time, Jacquemus was not known for collaborating with other brands, but its founder, Simon Porte Jacquemus, had already been quoted by Vogue as saying that Nike would be his choice if he were to do a collaboration. From these initial releases, a promising cooperation was beginning to flourish.
An early teaser of the JF1
In February 2023, fans got their first glimpse of a new collaborative sneaker from the two companies. Two images appeared online, the first showing a close up of a classic AF1 metal lace dubrae, but with one notable difference – JF1 was etched into its surface instead of the usual AF1 text. The second image showed a hand holding up the end of a pair of white laces. On the tips were leather aglets imprinted with Nike swooshes that somewhat resembled those seen on the previous Jacquemus Humara designs. So, those familiar with the earlier collaboration could infer that Nike and Jacquemus were preparing a new model together, and those who recognised the lace dubrae would also know that it was likely to be an Air Force 1. Beyond that, nothing else was revealed.
A sophisticated shoe with the spirit of an Air Force 1
In the days following this teaser, several fashion websites began to speculate about the new model, focusing on what was visible in the background of the pictures they had seen, such as the white leather upper and mesh tongue, the JF1 branding and the leather aglets that referenced the earlier Humaras. Then, things went quiet as neither brand released any new information about the collaboration. It wasn’t until a few months later, on 28th May, that Nike put up a post on its Instagram page to draw people’s attention back to its upcoming sneaker. It consisted of a single video that panned around a line of women in black suits standing in the middle of what looked like a white sand desert. All of them were facing one way, except for the model on the end, who was looking in the opposite direction. In the background, a powerful wind could be heard, and at the end of the video, the dual branding of a Nike swoosh above the Jacquemus name popped up in white across the middle of the image. Of course, the models were all wearing the new JF1, but it was impossible to see any details at that distance. The comment simply read, “A sophisticated shoe with the spirit of an AF1. The @Nike & @Jacquemus J Force 1. Coming Soon.” This message reiterated that the sneaker would be an Air Force 1 while also hinting at it having a sophisticated design, something Jacquemus’ clothing was already famous for.
Getting a closer look
Just two days after Nike’s teaser, Jacquemus posted about the new shoe on its Instagram page. This time, fans were given a much deeper insight into what it would look like, with close up shots of the two colourways that were to be released. The post was made up of seven images, including two of the desert scene from Nike’s video showing the line of models in black suits, two depicting some of these models sat on chairs over a thin layer of water, one of the all-black colourway, one of the all-white colourway and a final one showing both shoes. These pictures finally gave people a look at the whole model, from its AF1-inspired upper, complete with perforated toe box, to the delicate metal swooshes on its flanks. The sneaker’s unique rubber outsole was also clear to see – a nylon lace weaving in and out of its edge to connect it to the upper and grip patterns similar to Nike’s Waffle sole rather than the pivot-circle formations of most AF1s. Jacquemus’ comment beside the post revealed the designer’s love for Nike’s work and his personal connection with the project as he spoke of his excitement to share the JF1 with his audience. He also wrote about the inspiration behind the design, describing the shoe as a “hybrid of the very famous AIR FORCE 1 and the NIKE ACG TERRA”, which he said was one of his favorite Nike shoes of all time. In his earlier work with the brand, Jacquemus had spoken highly of the ACG (All Conditions Gear) line – a range of shoes launched in the late 80s that focused on a connection between humans and the wild to create rugged footwear which could be worn in different outdoor environments. Its motto is “Designed, tested, and made on Planet Earth. For outdoor use.” With this revelation, it is clear to see why the popular designer chose the Humara as his first Nike collaboration – it also belongs to the ACG group. In fact, the images on Instagram also made sense from this perspective as they were all set in wild locations. The design of the JF1, which was now there for all to see, also reflected his desire to bring the functionality of Nike’s ACG line into the collaboration through its reliance on Nike’s remarkable technical abilities.
A release date is set
In similar fashion to the earlier social media posts, these new ones sparked speculation and excitement throughout the sneaker world. Other websites were now focusing on the release date that had been set in the Jacquemus Instagram post – June 13th on Jacquemus.com and June 21st in select Nike stores around the world. It was also made available on the SNKRS app at the same time. This latter date is when Nike next posted on its Instagram page, this time with three pictures shot in the same expansive landscape as seen in the previous images. Two of them showed more models in sophisticated black suits to match the intended look of the shoe. As before, they were sitting, and sometimes standing, on chairs in these environments, all wearing the JF1. The third photo was of a stack of three J Force 1 sneakers, two in white and a black one in between. The comment was again simple and refined – “The @Nike x @Jacquemus J Force 1. For the understated. For the standouts.”
Luxurious features and fine details
On its release, the Nike Air Force 1 x Jacquemus turned out to be an elegant sneaker which brought together Nike’s design prowess and the sophisticated yet minimalist look that Jacquemus is famous for. When interviewed by Vogue for the duo’s first collaboration, Nike had expressed its admiration for the “sensuality” and the “emotion” of Simon Porte Jacquemus’ style. These attributes were clearly instilled into the JF1 in the form of fine details like the metal swooshes, the leather aglets, the subtle dual branding on the heel panel, tongue and insole, and the inverted Jacquemus text and Nike swoosh on the outsole. The Jacquemus website, which described the JF1 as “Unisex J Force 1 Sneakers”, emphasized these features as well as the “Silver recycled metal JF1 dubrae”, the “AF1 Vamp Perforation” and the “hand-woven construction”. Meanwhile, Nike’s website described the shoe as having “sophistication and playful wit” and referred to Jacquemus the designer as a “modern-day surrealist”. It also focused on the shoe’s “luxury touches” and the fact that the reversed outsole logos would “imprint correctly when you lift your foot”, before once again highlighting the distinctive lacing where the sole and upper connect – “By hand-weaving a modified AF-1 upper to the sole, a shoe was created that lets you stand out wherever you go.”
An original AF1 silhouette
The Air Force 1 collaboration between Nike and Jacquemus combined the classic look of the AF1 with the flair and sophistication of one of France’s most renowned fashion designers to produce a completely original model. In creating the J Force 1, Jacquemus went beyond the ordinary to put his own unique spin on the silhouette, thus making a place for himself and his brand in the story of this iconic sneaker.