People will try to tell you Air Force Mids are unacceptable. Fuck those people. AF1 Mids are the most comfortable version of the Air Force 1 and you don’t have to worry about the strap getting dirty from letting it hang around. The Mid version of the AF1 was introduced in 1994, 12 years after the Highs made their debut. So, to some older, more serious AF1 heads, the Mid isn’t “canon.” There was a period during the mid to late ‘90s where Mids reigned supreme in North Jersey where I grew up, AF1 highs and lows were an afterthought. We still rocked them, but Mids in various flavors were our drug of choice.
Some of my favorite New York rappers wore Mids on magazine covers and photoshoots. The Wu-Tang Clan wore a mix of white on white Mids and lows in their cover shoot for XXL’s October 2000 issue while donning Yankee jerseys. And there’s a shot of Jay-Z wearing gray AF1 Jewel Mids while sitting in a lounge chair in Marcy Projects where he grew up.
So, this revisionist history of the Mids never being an acceptable form of AF1s is confusing to me. You can credit Rasheed Wallace for making the AF1 Highs popular again with kids my age, as he wore them exclusively for most of his career. But we still preferred Mids, and this was due to more colorways being more readily available in stores than the highs and the lows.
Some of my favorites were white Mids with a metallic Swoosh and a silver sole, royal blue Mids with a white jewel Swoosh, and white Mids with a yellow check and a baby blue sole like the ones Jada hopped out the yellow Lex with. Puff and Mase had on white and yellow jewel lows in the “Mo Money, Mo Problems” video. I ran them shits into the ground, and when the strap started to sag, we would tie the buckle into the middle of the laces. Everybody wore Mids: hustlers, ballplayers, kids, old heads. Everybody.
But then they disappeared for a bit during the early 2000s. With the rise of retros, everyone stopped wearing Mids This was around the time AF1s went from defining Northeastern American style to becoming a worldwide phenomenon thanks to the explosion of rap music. Once Nelly’s “Air Force Ones” dropped we knew the sneakers we called Uptowns were now going to be taken from us, the rest of the country was going to be in on our 20-year secret. Me and my friends lowkey hated that song, we thought it was corny which, in hindsight, is indeed very corny.
That was until Nike dropped NYC Jewel Mids for the AF1’s 30th anniversary. I scooped up the Syracuse colorway ASAP, and then I was finally able to get my hands on the Sail NikeLab Jewel Mids that came out last spring. And honestly, dare I say the Mid is the sexiest of the AF1 silhouettes. The slanted upper with the strap on the inner part of the sneaker with velcro belt on the side is modern art. The highs are still the apex, though; the OG, if you will, but they’re bulky, you have to put a band-aid on the back of your achilles if you don’t wear them with tube socks, and feel like you’re wearing Timbs. Lows ain’t the most comfortable sneakers either mainly because of the sole. The Mid provides a perfect balance for the AFIs heavy sole.
However, one can definitely credit the resurgence of Mids into the sneakerhead lexicon to ASAP Rocky and his crew. The Harlem collective has had AF1 Mids in their rotations since they stepped on the rap scene around 2011. Which makes sense given the era they grew up in because to our generation, the Mids are OGs, it’s all that we know. Depending on colorway, a pair of AF1 Mids can really bring a ‘fit together. It’s never about the item, it’s always about how they’re worn. Let the hypebeasts and the old heads scoff at AF1 Mids, wear what you want because it’s not necessarily about which brand or model you have on, it’s about how you freak ‘em. Plus all hypebeasts dress the same and the old heads still rock bootcut jeans and black on black AF1s.
Certain colorways of lows and mids are warning signs for dangerous individuals. If you see someone rocking beater pairs of black on black AF1 lows or Mids, leave them alone. You do not want to poke that hornet’s nest, trust me. They’re guaranteed to have a couple violent felonies under their belts. You don’t wanna throw hands with a 50-year-old uncle with black Air Forces on. So, rock your AF1 Mids without shame, but stay away from the black on black pairs