A sneaker that has aced the test of time, the Nike Air Force 1 is as synonymous with style as it is with retro basketball. The Bruce Kilgore-designed sneaker has earned its place in collections across the globe and is a staple for fashion insiders and sneakerheads alike. It’s well-known in the industry that sizes vary between different Nike silhouettes. If you’re looking to buy your first pair of Nike Air Force Ones, you’re probably asking yourself “how do Air Force 1s fit?” and “do Nike Air Force 1s run true to size?” Lucky for you, we’ve got all the answers, so forget what size your Jordans, Dunks and New Balance are, because the Nike Air Force 1 is a whole different ball game. With iconic collaborations from the likes of Stüssy, Supreme, Off-White and Travis Scott, the AF1 is more in-demand than ever.

In short, Nike Air Force 1s don’t run true to size and you need to be careful with what size you order. Nike Air Force 1 run big, so for the best fit we recommend sizing down by half size, or even a full size if your regular size is in between. If your size isn’t in stock, you can always go true to size and add an insole. Adding an insole will fill any spare gaps and make for a more snug fit. If you’re looking for a point of comparison, AF1s generally run similar to Nike Air Max 90s. Both of these iconic silhouettes run a little big, so it’s always best to size down on both. A key point of difference when it comes to sizing is the Air Jordan 1. The AJ1 tends to run slightly small, so with this silhouette you’re best to go up by half a size.

Nike Air Force 1: A Brief History

Making its debut back in 1982, the Nike Air Force 1 was originally only available in a high-top design. Designed to be a highly functional basketball shoe, the toe box was engineered with breathable perforations and Air cushioning was added underfoot to evenly distribute players’ weight from heel to forefoot. Unlike Converse — the other popular basketball sneaker of the ‘80s — the Air Force 1 was made with a chunky sole, uniquely patterned tread on the outsole and Swoosh branding throughout. At the time, basketball sneakers were taking over and offerings from New Balance, adidas and Nike were flooding the market. With brands competing against each other to deliver a more technologically advanced, comfortable and functional sneaker, Nike seriously shook up the game with the AF1.

Once it had become an icon on the courts, the AF1 soon took over the streets on the East Coast of the USA. Soon, Nike was rivalling adidas and the Air Force 1 became a go-to both on the courts and in the hip-hop scene thanks to its clean style and unique Air technology. When the ‘90s rolled around, Nike reissued the Nike Air Force 1 low, which allowed the timelessness of the silhouette to really shine. Mesh side panels were replaced with an all-leather finish, but signature details like perforations, Swoosh branding and Air cushioning remained. Fast forward to 40 years later and the Air Force 1 remains one of the most iconic Nike sneakers of all time. Having seen collaborations from powerhouses like Travis Scott, Supreme, Off-White and Louis Vuitton, this humble basketball shoe has earned its place in the sneaker hall of fame. Still one of the Swoosh brand’s bestselling silhouettes, every generation has a special place in their collections for the Air Force 1 thanks to its timelessness, versatility and retro appeal. From bold colourways to classic staples, there’s an Air Force 1 to cater to every style inclination.

Nike Air Force 1 Size Guide

We asked our in-house team of sneaker fans about their experience with the fit of the Nike Air Force 1. The result was unanimous: Nike Air Force 1s run big. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a women’s size or a men’s, it’s recommended that you go down by at least half a size, and if you have narrow feet or are in between sizes you can even go down a full size. Our editor says: “I’ve been buying Nike Air Force 1 for well over 15 years now and the sizing has always been a little inconsistent with other Nike models in my collection. I have quite narrow feet so generally I go half a size down and there’s still room for me to wear thick socks on chilly days. Sometimes I buy GS AF1, and even with these models I size down, so the difference between adult and grade school sizing isn’t very significant, whether that’s mens or womens.”

Similarly to our Editor, our Head of Social sizes down, too. They said, “you definitely have to size down a bit with Nike AF1! I have wide feet and even I find them a bit too roomy when I go true size. It’s nothing that an insole can’t fix, but generally, if you can go down by half a size then do it.” When asked how they like to style their Forces, they said: “thanks to the chunky midsole on Forces, they have a super modern look that goes with everything. I wear all my favourite colorways with everything from jeans to joggers. In the summer, I’ll rock them with denim shorts and a relaxed shirt for a streetwear edge. You can’t go wrong.”

Just to be sure, we asked our production manager what size they get when they buy new Air Force 1s. They said: “I always go down by half or true to size when I get AF1s. I find that when I get my true to size fit and add an insole, the fit feels more customised than if I just size down. However, it’s usually just easier to buy half a size down then wear them in. After a few wears, the insole of the shoe eventually contours and shapes to your footbed so they feel super comfy.”

When compared to the Nike Blazer, Nike Air Jordan and Nike Dunk (which all generally run true to size), the Nike AF1 runs big. If your Dunks, Jordans and Blazers, for example, are a UK 9, you’re best getting your Forces in a UK 8 or 8.5. If you go true to size, you risk the toe room being a bit too spacious which can cause creasing – especially on the low-top models.

How Does The Nike Air Force 1 Mid Fit?

Whether you prefer the Air Force 1 Low or the Nike AF1 Mid, it’s important to understand how they can differ in size. Both silhouettes have plenty of space around the toe box and include details like breathable perforations, Swoosh branding and a thick midsole. The mid-top design is fitted with an additional strap around the ankle which creates a closer fit, which allows you to go true to size if necessary. In contrast to this, the Air Force 1 Low relies solely on its lace-up fastening, so sizing down will create a more snug fit which will ensure the shoe is optimised for any performance.

How Should I Clean My Air Force 1s?

Due to expert craftsmanship and high-quality materials, your Air Force 1s will last for years if you look after them. Most Forces are made from leather, which while being durable and flexible, is also super easy to clean. The best way to keep your Air Forces clean is to use a targeted sneaker cleaning product, but if you’re looking for a cheaper, easier way to clean your sneakers, a washing liquid and water solution works just as well. Our editor says: “when I need to clean my sneakers, I mix washing up liquid with water, get a rough cloth and scrub away at any dirt. It can be especially tricky to keep the areas around the toe box clean, because of the perforations, so for these parts of the shoe I use a cotton bud or an old toothbrush. Once I’ve cleaned the leather and the midsole, I throw the laces in with my usual washing and they come out looking practically brand new!”

It’s recommended that you steer clear from putting your Air Force 1s in the washing machine. Doing this can potentially damage the leather and soften the glue that holds the key components of the shoe together. When cleaning your favourite AF1s, keep it simple with some hot water, washing up liquid and a cloth. If your Forces are crafted with canvas, suede or any other materials, we suggest using a specialist cleaning solution that caters to the needs of the specific fabric.

Once your sneakers are nice and clean, keep them stored away from direct sunlight. If you have any spare dust bags, use them to store and transport your sneakers to keep them looking brand new all the time. You can read more about how to clean Air Force 1s here.

Nike Air Force 1: Iconic Iterations & Colourways

Nike Air Force 1 Triple White

The most timeless and iconic Air Force 1 of all time, the Nike Air Force 1 Triple White has been one of the Swoosh brand’s bestselling silhouettes for decades. A pair of Nike shoes that will never go out of style, the all-leather upper features a perforated toe box, Swoosh branding, a secure lace-up fastening and a signature branded lace lock. Underfoot, Air cushioning evenly distributes your weight and a thick midsole ensures height and comfort. Rounded off with a unique textured tread, the AF1 Triple White — in both high top and low top formation — is a non-negotiable style staple.

Supreme x Nike Air Force 1 White

A streetwear take on the classic silhouette, the Supreme Air Force 1 updates the classic with a miniature Supreme logo on the heel. Designed to pay homage to the original basketball shoe, the rest of the design remains untouched to let the OG design shine. One of the bestselling collaborations to come out of the silhouette’s arsenal, this AF1 iteration is dubbed a must-have among sneakerheads and fashion insiders alike.

Travis Scott x Nike Air Force 1

A patchwork take on the crowd-favourite hoops shoe, the Travis Scott x Nike Air Force 1 utilises premium fabrics like suede, corduroy and denim. Multiple prints adorn the upper, while a removable panel covers the lace-up fastening to deliver a unique point of difference. Underfoot, the same technology remains — and Air unit ensures all-day comfort, while the unique textured tread provides grip for optimised performance.

Off-White x Nike Air Force 1

With over nine AF1 colourways under its belt, Virgil Abloh’s Off-White brand is no stranger to giving the basketball shoe a signature makeover. From the Off-White Air Force 1 Volt to the Light Green Spark iteration, the Off-White Air Force 1 remains to this day one of the most in-demand collaborations of all time.

Each pair features co-branding with Virgil’s signature graphic font emblazoned throughout. Additional details include a hang tag, label on the Swoosh and deconstructed elements for good measure.

Nike Air Force 1 Skeleton

A sneaker that gets a resurgence in popularity every year, the Nike Air Force 1 Skeleton is a halloween must-have. Available in purple and orange, the side of the sneaker is decorated with a skeleton foot, which adds a spooky touch to the beloved original design. Underfoot, a glow-in-the-dark midsole adds a final touch of playfulness. Staying true to the OG, the upper features breathable perforations on the toe box with a secure lace-up fastening, padded tongue and expertly crafted cushioning underfoot.

Nike Air Force 1 Size Guide: The Summary

By now, you’ll know that the Nike Air Force 1 runs big. There is plenty of room around the toe box and the footbed is a little loose. To ensure that your Nike AF1 fit like a dream, it’s recommended that you size down by half and if your feet are narrow, you’re best ordering a full size down. However, if your size isn’t in stock or you’re between sizes, you can order your true to size fit and add an insole. You can get insoles online or at your local supermarket and cut them to size, they will then fit perfectly into your shoe and fill in any spare gaps while adding a little extra cushioning. Although the sizing for Air Force 1 differs from Yeezys, Dunks, Air Jordans and New Balance, they remain to this day one of the most in-demand sneakers on the market.