Nike announces launch of the Colin Kaepernick x Air Force 1
A year after the brand made him the face of its 30-year anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign, Kap gets his own sneaker
10:01 AMIn January 2017, Colin Kaepernick packed up his massive collection of sneakers and donated them to orphanages and homeless shelters across the city of San Francisco. Kaepernick, then still a member of the San Francisco 49ers, began his transformation from NFL quarterback (and sneakerhead) to social activist, with a pledge to donate $1 million to oppressed communities across the nation after he sparked a movement of player protest against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.
Nearly three years have passed and Kaepernick has yet to return to the NFL. But he fulfilled that million-dollar pledge. And now he has a sneaker to symbolize his journey of athlete activism.
On Saturday, Nike officially announced a collaboration with Kaepernick on an Air Force 1 — more than a year after the brand made him the face of the “Just Do It” campaign for its 30-year anniversary. Kaepernick appeared in a print ad with the tagline, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” and narrated a two-minute commercial, titled Dream Crazy, that won an Emmy. In September 2018, it was reported that Kaepernick’s new partnership with Nike (Kaepernick first signed with Nike as a rookie in 2011) would not include an extensive clothing line or signature shoe. Yet in the past year, Nike has delivered a Kaepernick-branded long-sleeved T-shirt and football jersey, both of which were released in limited-edition fashion and sold out.
The latest collaboration between the brand and 32-year-old Kaepernick is the Nike Air Force 1 x Colin Kaepernick, “inspired by the voice of the athlete and his ‘True to 7’ storytelling.” The predominantly white and black shoe — which is set to drop on Dec. 23 in adult sizing for $110 a pair (while also releasing in toddler ($65) and kids ($75) sizing) — features luxe black leather and a collection of graphics, including a portrait of an Afro’d Kapernick on the heel tab of each shoe, his personal logo on the tongues, a No. 7 hang tag and insoles patterned with white roses and a shattered mask.
Under the icy sole of the right shoe is perhaps the most notable detail on the Air Force 1s — “08 14 16,” the date of a preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans, when Kaepernick (who was not in uniform due to a shoulder injury) sat during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the first time, marking the beginning of his protest, which originally went unnoticed. Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem on Sept. 1, 2016. Fast-forward to March 2017 — following months of protest by players across the NFL — when the veteran quarterback opted out of the final season of his contract with 49ers to become a free agent, and he’s gone unsigned by all 32 NFL teams since.
On Nov. 16, at his infamously rescheduled workout in front of representatives from seven NFL teams, Kaepernick subtly debuted his upcoming sneaker collaboration with Nike, arriving at Charles R. Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia, wearing a pair of the Air Force 1s. Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s friend and the first player to join him in protest back in 2016, also attended the workout in the Forces. The next day, Reid rocked the kicks again to a Week 11 matchup between the Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. “Game day fit 🔥,” Reid posted on Instagram. “You already know #ImWithKap y’all see the kicks.”
Two days before the announcement of the Nike Air Force 1 x Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback’s girlfriend, radio personality Nessa Diab took to Twitter to post an unboxing of a “Friends & Family” edition of the sneakers, which came in a wooden box, featuring the No. 7 and the words, “Resilience,” “The Man,” “Love,” “Awakening,” “Liberation,” “Truth,” and “Courage.” Inside the box, the shoes were encased in glass and wrapped in black and white kente cloth.
“All of this is important to Colin,” Diab said, “and he wanted to share that with everybody.”