Jordan 1 vs Air Force 1

On one side of a white line, someone in a pair of white and grey Jordan 1s with red trim. On the other side, someone in a pair of white Air Force 1 Lows with light grey trim.
Credit: SNS & Nike

On one side of a white line, someone in a pair of white and grey Jordan 1s with red trim. On the other side, someone in a pair of white Air Force 1 Lows with light grey trim.
Credit: SNS & Nike

Choosing between the Jordan 1 vs Air Force 1 is easier said than done given their widespread popularity and status as fashion essentials these days. Both models have solidified their places in history, making the decision even more challenging. As a result, the market is flooded with an array of impressive variations, adding to the complexity of the choice.

In our guide, we've delved into the transformative impact these amazing Nike trainers have had on the sneaker industry. By analyzing their similarities and differences, we provide insights into what separates these two iconic models, as well as explore their respective price points and design elements, offering a better understanding of the unique features that set the best Jordan 1 and Air Force 1s apart.

To truly appreciate the evolution of these sneakers, however, we must first trace back to their origins and delve into the rich history that surrounds both the Jordan 1 and the Air Force 1. Understanding the roots of these iconic models should help you pick your favorite and, in turn, which model to add to your collection.


The Air Force 1 was the first of the two sneakers to be released. It made its debut in 1982 as the initial basketball trainer created by Bruce Kilgore, who was Nike's product designer at the time.

The shoe proved to be a turning point in the sports and sneaker culture as it featured Nike's highly popular Air technology and went on to become one of the most sought-after shoes on the market.

However, the Air Force 1 didn't have an easy start in life. Despite Nike using six of its most popular NBA players to promote the Air Force 1 in '83, the original #4190 design was eventually discontinued after trying to break into the mix with some of the best basketball shoes around from the likes of Converse and adidas at the time.

Nike Air Force 1 1983 promotion poster featuring 6 NBA stars in all-white pilot outfits.
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Credit: Nike

Consumers and retailers demanded it back though, particularly three stores in Baltimore that lobbied for the Air Force 1 to return. According to Nike, the company agreed, but only if the retailers would take 1,200 pairs of two initial colorways.

The retailers took on the 1,200 pairs dressed in white and Royal Blue plus white and Chocolate Brown which eventually became known as the "Colour of the Month" series, aka the sneakers which saved the Air Force 1.

Nike Air Force 1 Highs in red, brown, white, black, and blue on a table next to their original drawings.
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Credit: Nike

Around the same time, the Chicago Bulls picked the then-rookie Michael Jordan as their third overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft.

By 1985, the world saw the first Nike Air Jordan 1 in the "Chicago" as well as the "Banned" or "Bred" colorway, which got its name as it's rumored that the NBA fined Jordan every time he stepped foot on the court in the sneakers as the shoes violated the league's uniform policy.

However, Nike used this to its advantage and made it the primary focus of its television commercial. The result, alongside the performances of MJ on the court, grew the Jordan 1's popularity to new heights.

As touched on earlier, both sneakers continue to be made to this day due to their immense popularity. Neither show signs of slowing down either, which is a testament to Nike's ability to adapt and revitalize each model year after year to keep them in the mix with some of the best sneakers of all time.


As mentioned above, the Air Force 1 and Jordan 1 were originally designed as basketball shoes.

As a result, the first silhouettes are both high-tops for added ankle support; however, while the Jordan 1 stuck to the Chicago Bulls colors, the Air Force 1 utilized a more simple white and grey design which continues to be a theme to this day.

Since then, there have been some incredible low-top releases for both shoes. The "Shadow" colorway, in particular, we feel is one of the best Jordan 1 Lows available. However, the Air Force 1 has made the low-top style its more prominent silhouette, making it more commonly used for everyday wear.

Air Jordan 1 Low "Shadow" product image of a black and grey pair of low-top shoes with white midsoles.
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Credit: Nike

The Jordan 1, on the other hand, mostly sticks to mid and high-tops, to adhere to its slightly more basketball-orientated audience thanks to His Airness' legendary playing career.


At this point, you may be tempted to pick up your own pair of Air Force 1s or Jordan 1s. If so, you're probably wondering which of the two is the cheapest.

Generally speaking, a classic pair of "White" '07 Air Force 1s, are slightly cheaper on the resale market than a comparable, at least in popularity, pair of "Bred" Jordan 1 Retros.

Nike Air Force 1 product image of a pair of all-white sneakers.
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Credit: Nike

However, there are hundreds of Jordan 1 colorways available, many of which, like the "Industrial Blue" Lows, are much closer in price to low-top Air Force 1s, particularly on the resale market. On average though, Air Force 1s are the cheaper of the two sneakers, both at retail and second-hand.

Jordan 1 vs Air Force 1: Which should you buy?

Deciding between which sneakers to buy will come down to personal preferences and what you intend to use them for.

For example, if you're planning to play basketball in one of these shoes, then picking up a pair of Jordan 1s will probably be more beneficial as they're a little more tailored toward the sport, particularly with Jordan 1 Highs and even Mids providing ankle support.

However, picking up some Air Force 1s may be the way to go for everyday wear as their sheer versatility due to simplicity is what makes them popular for everyday use. Ultimately, the choice is yours as we think both make for an excellent sneaker pick.

And that sums up everything you need to know about the Jordan 1 vs Air Force 1. Stay tuned for more like this at RealKit.

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