“Disappointing.” “Mid.” “Underwhelming.” These are some of the adjectives that have trailed the Tiffany & Co x Nike AF1 low drop which both brands officially announced on the 29th of January 2023 after weeks of speculation. Other popular opinions are suggestions some consider better designs, with a social media account going as far as using AI to create multiple styles.
Could Tiffany and Nike have designed their joint Air Force 1 footwear better? Maybe. But first, a quick review of what they have both managed to do.
The Tiffany & Co x Nike Air Force 1 features a suede base accented with top-grain leather. The jewellery brand’s signature blue makes an appearance on the Nike swoosh as well as the insole, while a silver plate at the back and the word ‘Tiffany’ written in cursive on the tongue are Tiffany’s most distinguishable mark on the footwear. Rope laces complete the look alongside sterling silver accessories.
There have also been posts showing another version that has teal-coloured top-grain leather as its main material with black suede used for the Swoosh and the top. However, neither brand has officially claimed these images, so it is all speculation for now.
In the end, the critiques are right: the Tiffany & Co x Nike Air Force 1s really look simple, even though both brands may have spent months trying to come up with a suitable design. Maybe if they had elected to take us behind the scenes, it would have been easier to understand why they chose this final version.
Here’s a universal truth in product design: aesthetics is not as important as usability and utility. If a product is not useful for the end user or proves difficult to use/does not provide relief to this demographic, it does not matter how aesthetically pleasing or desirable it is: it would just not sell.
For well-established brands like Nike and Tiffany & Co, there is also the added responsibility of ensuring that whatever product they make — no matter how innovative it may be — is instantly recognisable as coming from them. It is why Nike apparel is vastly different from Adidas’, or why you can tell a Tiffany engagement ring apart from other brands like Debeers, for example.
It is also why the Tiffany & Co x Nike AF1 low is exactly what it is: an instantly-recognisable Air Force 1 that stays true to the spirit of the original model while incorporating elements from Tiffany’s to increase its desirability status. Could both brands have decided to bling out the shoes and jazz up the design a bit? Of course. But would it have been a comfortable, wearable, recognisable, useful and gender-neutral Air Force 1?
The answer is most likely no.