Nike Air Force 1 vs Adidas Superstar (Clash of the Classics)

nike-air-force-1-vs-adidas-superstar

In today’s comparison, we’re going to be comparing the Nike Air Force 1 vs Adidas Superstar to see which one comes on top.

The Air Force 1 and the Superstar are iconic sneakers worn by famous celebs to everyday folks.

But if you had to choose one, which one would you get?

To answer that, we’ll be comparing these sneakers on price, quality, style, fit, and durability to see which one comes out on top.

Let’s dive right into it…

Don’t forget to check our comparison of the Adidas Superstar vs Stan Smith.

Nike Air Force 1 vs Adidas Superstar

Let’s get started with the price…

Which is more affordable?

Nike-Air-Force-1-price

I would say these sneakers are very affordable hence why a lot of people rock them. However, the Superstars are slightly more affordable.

nike-air-force-1-vs-adidas-superstar-pricing

Generally, the Air Force 1 goes for $110 whereas the Adidas Superstars go for $100 though you can usually find them for a lot cheaper, especially on Amazon.

A lot of times, these big-name brand shoes don’t really live up to their price tag, but the Air Force and the Superstar are money well spent.

Moving on to the fit…

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Sizing & Fit

For those wondering how the Nike Air Force 1 fits, either go true to size or down a half size. Absolutely do not go up any sizing at all because the Nike Air Force 1 do fit a little big.

I’m true to size on the regular Air Force 1, AF1 Nike Connect NYC, Travis Scott AF1, AF1 Low React, and AF1 Craft.

Here’s a detailed article where Brad and I tell you whether the Air Force 1s run big or small.

However, Adidas recommends you go down in the Superstars. So, definitely try them in-store.

As for differences, the Air Force 1’s feel more supportive and snug compared to the Superstar, but the Superstar feels more comfortable with its lining.

The Air Force 1 has a higher cut providing better protection whereas the Superstars are shorter.

So, both have their advantages, but for me, I’m going to give the point to the Air Force 1 as I enjoy the fit more compared to the Superstars and it’s better to train in due to its higher cut.

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Let’s move on to quality…

Which is more durable?

adidas-superstar-vs-nike-air-force-1

Both Nike and Adidas are made with quality materials and both will last long in your wardrobe.

Both sneakers are made with leather uppers, for the most part, both have rubber midsoles and rubber outsoles, and both have mesh linings for support.

The Air Force 1’s toe box has classic perforated toe panels for ventilation whereas the Superstars have the classic rubber shell toe cap.

nike-air-force-1-toe-box-perforations

adidas-superstar-shell-toe-cap

To be accurate in terms of the quality of the materials used, I’m going to have to go a little bit in-depth to see how much of this is leather and how good of quality the leather is.

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What’s inside the midsole/outsole

nike-air-force-1-vs-adidas-superstar

Nike Air Force 1

The outsole is just a typical rubber outsole. The shoe has a cup sole construction with real stitching around the outside.

The Air unit midsole is so soft which, under pressure, would be a pretty comfortable midsole and I think that’s part of the reason why people love these. And what’s interesting is this Air unit goes probably three-quarters of the way up the shoe.

This is going to give you a little bit more cushioning and it’s going to give you a little bit more of that height. And I think a big part of the reason why these shoes look so clunky and big is there’s so much on the inside.

nike-air-force-1-air-unit-cut-in-half

Moving upwards, you can see the foam that surrounds the Air unit.

What’s also interesting is you’ve got a little bit of that structure in the heel and this little X crosshatch (picture below) that’s going to give you a little bit of extra cushioning compared to the Air Jordan 1’s that don’t have that.

nike-air-force-1-midsole-layers

Then moving up, we’ve got the semi-removable structured insole insert which is not glued in. It’s almost like a sticky tape that holds it in there so you can remove it and put some different orthotics in if you need to.

Overall, the Air Force 1 is stylish, and honestly, it gives you an extra bit of height too, which I think a lot of people enjoy.

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Adidas Superstar

The Superstar has a pretty solid construction. Like the Air Force 1, the Superstar has a cup midsole which is a pretty thick foam midsole.

The midsole kind of has that spring and rebound of a memory foam type foam and so that’s probably part of why it’s so comfortable.

Look how thick this foam is. No wonder these things are so comfortable.

adidas-superstar-thick-midsole-cut-in-half

Unlike the Stan Smiths, all the comfort provided by the Superstar comes from this big fat memory foam type foam at your heel, which makes a lot of sense.

Another interesting feature is the Superstar has that cell structure at the edge of the cup sole, which, I think, is probably designed to give it a little bit more stability and cup your sole a little bit better.

adidas-superstar-cup-midsole-X-crosshatch

So, rather than just having a big chunk of foam there, you also have that lattice structure that helps prevent the shoe from being too wobbly and unstable.

In terms of the insole, while the insert is a really cheap open-cell EVA foam, the midsole feels like a pretty high-quality PU foam.

Now let’s identify which parts of the upper are leather and what else is going on inside…

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Leather

Nike Air Force 1

nike-air-force-1

The Air Force uses a chrome-tanned leather, which is pretty standard because most sneakers and shoes are going to be made out of chrome-tanned leather.

The fact it’s all leather is really impressive, especially compared to the Air Jordan 1 Mids which are mostly not leather.

Overall, the Air Force is a pretty interesting yet simple shoe. You literally just have that cup midsole/outsole, a big layer of foam, a Strobel that’s stitched to the upper, a skeleton lining around the heel, a foam and rubber counter, and a leather upper.

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Adidas Superstar

Just like the Nike Air Force 1’s, the Superstar uses a chrome-tanned leather. Because of the blueing in the cross sections, my guess is it’s actually a top-grain leather, which isn’t that big of a difference.

adidas-superstar-blueing-in-the-leather

Looking at the cross-section, it can tell us that it is a full-grain or top-grain leather which is a higher quality leather than suede.

Is it super high-quality leather? Probably not just because of the scale that it’s produced and that it’s a $100 sneaker, but it is leather.

However, the little black stripes and the back piece with the Adidas logo on it are definitely fake leather.

adidas-superstar-three-stripe-logo

Surprisingly, unlike the Mid Air Jordans which are fake leather, almost all of the upper on the Superstar is leather. The only part that’s not leather is the tongue and Adidas’ world-famous shell toe which is kind of sidewall stitched on.

The skeleton fabric lining on the inside is minimal which is a bonus if you don’t like really warm shoes.

The insole is just a cheap EVA foam insert. It’s removable and that’s always a bonus for people who have custom orthotics or just want a little bit more squish underneath their foot.

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Looks

Both sneakers are made as an upgraded version of their original release. The Nike Air Force 1’s was released in 1982 and was the first basketball shoe to use the Nike Air technology and the Superstar was designed for basketball courts in the 70s.

Both have classic low-cut silhouettes and both have their classic logos on the lateral and medial side with Nike and the signature Swoosh and the Adidas Superstars with the three stripes and the Superstar logo.

adidas-superstar-three-stripe-logo

nike-air-force-1-swoosh-logo

As for differences, the Air Force 1 is all-white whereas the Superstar has black and gold accents on the tongue, heel, lateral and medial sides.

adidas-superstar-tongue-logo

The Air Force 1 has a metal dubrae whereas the Superstars has a standard lace.

nike-air-force-1-dubrae

The Air Force 1 has the Air logo on the midsole whereas the Superstar doesn’t have any.

So, both sneakers have iconic styling, but I’m going to give the point to the Air Force 1 for their clean and simplistic look and making it super easy to style with your fits.

Before giving you the final verdict, let’s briefly talk about the story behind both shoes…

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Nike Air Force 1 vs Adidas Superstar – History

Nike Air Force 1

history-nike-air-force-1

Nike was just getting started in the basketball sneaker category when Bruce Kilgore designed what has become the best-selling sneaker of all time, the Air Force 1.

Kilgore drew inspiration for the Air Force 1 from Nike hiking boots because of its slanted upper. This design offered support to the foot and gave the sneaker a wide range of flexibility.

Bruce wanted to create a design that showed that functionality could be married beautifully and permanently with fashion. So the shoe is subtle as it is profound, fly as it is grounded, and eternal as it is modern.

Since this was a basketball shoe, Kilgore had to design an outsole suited for the hardwood. He came up with the circular outsole which is ideal since basketball players pivot throughout a game.

This made the Air Force 1 a true basketball sneaker.

So Nike dropped the original Air Force 1 in 1982. However, even though the sneaker saw a ton of success early on, it was discontinued in 1984. Eventually, customers started demanding it and Nike eventually brought it back in 1986.

Once the Air Force 1 had been wear-tested and approved, Moses Malone, Michael Cooper, Jamaal Wilkes, Bobby Jones, Michael Thompson, and Calvin Natt were the chosen ones to bring this basketball product to the world.

Construction

The Air Force was produced in five different styles:

  • Low
  • Mid
  • Superlow
  • High
  • Super high

The upper is usually constructed of patent leather. The upper on the highs and mids has an ankle strap for stability. The strap on the high tops is movable and in some cases removable while in the mid tops, it is secured to the sneaker.

The Air Force 1 was the first basketball sneaker to feature Nike Air technology which is essentially a pocket filled with air in the heel for cushioning and support.

Although the Air Force 1 has been around for over 40 years now and has seen over 2,000 variations in colorways, the most commonly sold Air Force 1s are the solid white-on-white and black-on-black colorways.

So, over 1,700+ styles have been created of the Nike Air Force 1 bringing in an estimated $800 million a year for Nike.

The Air Force 1 is coveted by collectors and copped daily by sneaker fiends. Authentic, bold, timeless, and true, the Nike Air Force 1 represents where Nike is as a whole and has been since the beginning.

Named after the plane that carries the President of the United States, the Air Force 1 is just as popular today as it was 40 years ago.

So keep your eyes out for new colorways and retros that are dropping every now and then.

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Adidas Superstar

history-of-adidas-superstar

The Adidas Superstar is a classic comfy shoe and one of the most iconic shoes in the world. But to tell the illustrious story of the acclaimed Adidas Superstar, we’ve got to go all the way to post-war Germany sometime in the 1950s.

There were only two brands in the sneaker game and those sneakers were used either for the track or the soccer pitch.

Host Dassler fell in love with Basketball during the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and wanted to pierce the armor of the American market because he knew the market was loyal to the OG Converse Chuck Taylor. However, he knew there was still room for improvement.

So, he began to develop the sneaker in secret at the brand’s French production plant.

Beginning with an existing Adidas training sneaker called the Olympiade, Horst added:

  • An oversized heel counter to lock the foot down
  • A padded tongue for comfort
  • A wedge in the heel for stability

Finally, a better grippy herringbone pattern was added to the Adidas Supergrip which was everything that Chuck Taylor couldn’t be. The Supergrip was better, faster, and stronger.

In the US, Chris Severn eventually got the MBA champions Celtics fitted with the Adidas Supergrip and Adi Dassler, the father, had no choice but to admit that Horst was on to something big.

The Supergrip remained on foot until 1970 when the forever iconic shell toe was added and the Superstar was Born.

The Superstar remained a league favorite for the better part of a decade until basketball sneaker technology began to take off in the 1980s.

But by then, the Superstar was ready for phase two…

The shoe kind of took over the basketball world and quickly almost put Converse out of business and basically became the shoe of choice for most basketball players in the 70s.

In the 80s, the Superstar had that strong resurgence because of Run DMC which really rocketed these shoes into superstardom and made these the iconic shoes that you’ve seen.

It’s now 37 years since RUN DMC made the Superstar one of the hottest sneakers in the world and 52 years since the famous shell toe was added to the Adidas Supergrip to birth an icon.

In five decades, the Superstar has been the best thing on the court, the quintessential hip-hop sneaker, and a platform for some of the best collabs in sneaker history.

The Superstar has basically been popular ever since in every colorway imaginable and every collaboration possible and a part of everyone’s story. Who hasn’t owned a pair of Superstars?

Here’s a cool video about the history of the Adidas Superstars…

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Now, it’s time for the final verdict…

Final Verdict

Being both iconic sneakers, the Nike Air Force 1 and Adidas Superstars are amazing, but which sneaker comes out on top?

I think I get the hype behind the Nike Air Force 1 and I understand why people love these shoes.

  • They feature a thick midsole
  • They’re comfortable
  • They’re made with quality leathers
  • They’re going to last a decently long time
  • They’re just that classic style
  • They’re just amazing all-white sneakers
  • They easily go with any fit.

So for me, the winner is the Nike Air Force 1s. However, if you like the styling of the black and gold accents, definitely go for the Superstar. It is that classic iconic look that’s been around for decades. It’s super comfortable and the leather is pretty good for the price.

The outsole is a little bit thin, but I think they do that to save a little bit of money in production. Even though the leather is thick, it could still be improved, but then again, you’d be raising the price of the shoe.

A lot of times, some bigger brands slowly increase the price of their iconic sneakers and just hope that people don’t care and they don’t notice and they’re willing to spend the money on their iconic sneakers, but with the Air Force and the Superstar, it’s a different approach.

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That’s it for this Nike Air Force 1 vs Adidas Superstar comparison.

Now, we want to hear from you. Which sneaker do you guys prefer? Are you Team Nike Air Force 1s or team Adidas Superstars? Comment down below.

Until then, I hope you’re staying safe out there and see you in the next one 🙂

About Eric

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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