Stüssy didn't need to tinker with the Air Force 1 it released with Nike last year. The embroidered hemp sneaker was already the best AF1 of 2020, and yet the seminal streetwear brand decided to revisit it and make it even better.
Initially available in either black or a choice "Fossil Stone," the Air Force 1 has now been hand-dyed by a specialist studio based in Los Angeles. Each sneaker will be one of a kind, with Lookout & Wonderland using natural dyes to produce the rich colors.
It's not quite tie-dye, but the process results in Air Force 1s well in line with the psychedelic and DIY takeover of streetwear.
How it's done — Stüssy released a brief video showing how its Air Force 1s were created. After being treated with tannins, which helps the materials take hold of the dye, the sneakers were colored using natural and ethically sourced dyes. The whole sneaker has been treated, which creates a nice monochrome look as the the upper, sock liner, and sole take in the colors differently.
The five colors — blue, orange, purple, green, and red — were chosen to represent the five cities in Stüssy's "World Tour:" Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, London, and Paris. In addition to their hues, the respective plants for each dye have also been chosen for their "skin soothing medicinal properties." They'll be released in limited qualities at 1 p.m. EST this Friday, January 29, on Stüssy's webstore.
Don't expect much stock — The original Stüssy Air Force release from last year already had much higher demand than supply, but the handmade nature of this new version should mean even less sneakers will be available for sale.
Should you fail to land a pair, the most likely outcome, you can still pick up a bunch of killer hand-dyed goods directly from Lockout & Wonderland, a sort-of hybrid art studio and small-scale clothing brand. Their dazzling T-shirts and socks are reasonably priced and by no means a consolation prize. If all these hand-dyed Air Force 1s do is put you on to their game, it's still a worthwhile collaboration.