In 2019, Nike launched its experimental N.354 sub-brand with the goal of using universally recognized items "to spark new ideas that explore and push the boundaries of footwear design." With that mission in mind, the new Air Force 1 Experimental's USPS theme makes perfect sense.
Ironically, the UPS handles most of Nike's stateside shipping, according to Hypebeast. But the red, white and blue colorway was undeniably inspired by the USPS's Priority Mail shipping box.
This is especially evident on the heel, where the Postal Service's white-on-blue eagle logo has been modified with a Nike Swoosh. A version of the courier's standard labeling block text was used for the phrases "Air Force I," "N.354" "Label AF1, Summer 22" and "For Everyday Use."
Elsewhere, the sneaker's cream upper, white midsole, and protruding Swoosh marked by "N. 354" in red are wrapped in a foam shell to create an inside-out aesthetic.
A sport blue toggle system actuates the laces, while the exposed foam tongue, upside-down heel tab graphics, collar, pull tabs and outsole are rendered in "dark berry blue."
The USPS issued the following statement criticizing Nike and disowning the postal-themed kicks on April 1, 2021:
The Nike Air Force 1 “USPS” Experimental shoe is neither licensed nor otherwise authorized by the U.S. Postal Service.
The Postal Service, which receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations, protects its intellectual property. Officially licensed products sold in the marketplace expand the affinity for the Postal Service brand and provide incremental revenue through royalties that directly support it. Sales of unauthorized and unlicensed products deny support to the hardworking women and men of the Postal Service.
This is an unfortunate situation where a large brand such as Nike, which aggressively protects its own intellectual property, has chosen to leverage another brand for its own gain. The Postal Service is disappointed in Nike’s lack of response to repeated attempts to come to a solution. The Postal Service will take whatever actions it deems necessary to protect its valuable IP rights.