Find your solemate. Be it casual, a gym look, or evening outfit, sneakers have become essential components to the modern uniform. For decades, the sneaker-sphere has been dominated by Nike, with its crisp Air Force 1s and iconic Jordans sought after by sneaker-heads and regular shoppers alike. To give a bit of variation to your day-to-day footwear, CR has rounded up the the unique underground brands that continue to challenge the global leaders in the flourishing sneaker industry.
From their collaboration with NBA superstar Dwayne Wade ‘Way of Wade’ to a capsule with Jackie Chan, Li-Ning has gained instant credibility and exposure. The eponymous sportswear company was founded exactly 30 years, by Li Ning–a retired Chinese gymnast and Olympic gold medalist–with the goal of providing Chinese athletes with a national brand to wear at the Olympics. Li-Ning’s sprawling footwear drops have channeled the world of Kung Fu, while others favored a utilitarian aesthetic, complete with chunky sole units, TPU-heavy uppers, synthetic and technical textiles. The brands sneaker roster bridges styles with a seamless marriage between western silhouettes and Chinese heritage, all while maintaining affordability.
Ranked by revenue as the world’s third-largest sportswear company, Anta is moving on up with it’s shoe game. Known for their technical, conceptual and classic silhouettes, the brand’s sneaker designs bring the spirit of sport into everyday life, while championing Chinese culture through innovative designs. Anta’s recent, and striking collaborations with Salahe Bembur–Vice President of Sneakers & Men’s Footwear at Versace–have elevated the brand to a high-demand status among sportsman and celebrities alike. NBA athletes publicly favor the Chinese sneakers over big name brands such as Nike and Adidas; you can catch a glimpse of Anta’s footwear on the likes of all-star players including Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward and Kevon Looney. The 2008 Beijing olympics led to a surplus in sales and visibility, Anta has since been appointed the official sports apparel partner for the 2022 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Saucony sneakers are a long-standing favorite in underground hip-hop culture, particularly among B-boys who championed the all-black styles, and is famed for their patented “grid” cushioning technology. Since the American manufacturer for athletic shoes conception in 1989, the company has yielded a series of unique footwear collaborations, from the Nasa inspired Extra Butter x Saucony “Space Race Pack” and critically rapper Wale’s signature shoes, to a meeting of minds with AFEW that created the Shadow 5000 “Time & Space.” However, Saucony’s Jazz trainer–declared the “best quality” running trainer of the 1980s”– remains the brand’s most coveted model, seen on the feet of celebrity royalty, such as Pippa Middleton, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s most recent partnership–with political printers at Prinkshop and non-profit She Should Run–is perhaps the most meaningful and exciting. The duo joined forces to support and honor women who run “for sport or for political office,” the collection includes two styles of sleek sneakers are offered, both incorporating the female gender symbols into its’ designs. For every item sold, the brand will donate 10% of every sale to She Should Run, a nonprofit organization that supports female leadership in politics by encouraging women to run for office and providing them with the tools they need to get to the starting line.
Just over 10 years ago, Hoka One One kicked off its introduction to the world with maximalism, launching big-soled cartoonish sneakers into a fashion scape that was at the time embracing uber-minimalist running shoes. The French-born, California-based brand, has developed a penchant for mixing maximal cushioning with minimal weight. Their versatility “has seen them emerge as one of the most forward-thinking labels when it comes to sports innovation.”
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createdAt:Thu, 29 Oct 2020 14:25:06 +0000
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