By Rafael Hernandez
This month celebrates the one year anniversary of a legendary New York sneaker collab. In August 2019 Nike collaborated with Lower East Side’s own Scarr’s Pizza for one of the most coveted pairs of Air Force 1s in history. With Scarr’s Pizza emblazoned in orange and navy blue on its sides and the New York State seal on the heel, this has to be the most New York sneaker to hit the market. And with both partners so deeply connected to the culture, it’s no wonder this collaboration happened.
For those of you who don’t know, here is a quick history lesson on the “Nike Air Force 1” Nike debuted the Nike Air Force 1 high top silhouette in 1982 which revolutionized basketball sneakers. The AF1’s thick sole provided more comfort than the traditional sneaker and the built-in air technology helped relieve the stresses of playing on hardwood floors. By 1983 Nike launched a campaign alongside 6 players across the NBA, with each receiving their own color-way corresponding to their team colors, setting a demand for team-specific pairs from the fans. After 2 years Nike was ready to discontinue the silhouette in favor of the new flavor of the moment, which was a common practice. But once word spread of this, 3 stores in Baltimore, now called “the Three Amigos,” pleaded with Nike to continue selling the shoe and Nike actually listened. So much so, Nike started making colorways specifically for their stores, they called this “the color of the month club,” where every month there was a new take on the silhouette. This sent Baltimore in a frenzy, there were lines out the door as soon as the sneakers hit the shelves.
With Baltimore being the middleman between the north and the south, they had customers from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Atlanta, and even further. Most of those making the trip to get an elusive pair of AF1s usually went to go back home and stunt. The AF1 quickly became a street symbol of wealth and the more exclusive your AF1s the better. By the 1990s the Air Force 1, also referred to as “Uptowns”, “Harlem’s”, “444s”, “G-Nikes”, “Baltimores”, “G-Fazos”, “Forces”, and even “Greedy Weedys”, was completely entrenched in hip hop culture. Today Nike has continued to cultivate the culture by collaborating with the likes of Jay Z, Eminem, Virgil Abloh, and Travis Scott, just to name a few.
While on the other side of the collaboration we have Scarr Pimentel, a native of Harlem, who honed his pizza crafting skills in New York’s legendary pizzerias like Artichoke, Joe’s, and Lombardi’s. Pimentel opened “Scarr’s Pizza”, to fill the void of the missing classic New York slice, and his pizzeria did just that! Fusing hip-hop culture and that uptown Harlem spirit Scarr’s Pizza takes you back to old New York. Even on the entrance, it looks like you walked into old school New York straight out of a Spike Lee movie. Scarr’s Pizza has been holding down the New York City tradition of inexpensive prices for quality slices since 2016, and Pimentel has been adding his uptown flair from its inception. Pimentel has been rocking uptowns since he was young and has remained true to the classic silhouette. So when it came time to work on a collaboration with Nike, Pimentel and his friend DJ Clark put in the work designing this time and vibe encapsulating pair of kicks. Now it was no easy feat, it took about 2 years to get it from the concept of dropping those rare 48 family and friends pairs. Those years of effort definitely show as they perfectly blend New York’s most iconic sneaker, the AF1, with the iconic New York staple, Scarr’s Pizza. There is no doubt this pair of kicks is a true New York romance.