Are you looking to up your footwear game? We’ve got you covered with this curated list of five dope kicks from Chinese brands that you’ve (probably) never heard of.
Anta is the biggest sports brand in China, and since its acquisition of Fila, it ranks as the third-largest sports brand worldwide (and it’s closing in on Adidas!). In 2016, the brand brought on former Adidas footwear designer Robbie Fuller as creative director, and it has constantly been improving its products and designs.
The Golden State Warrior’s sharp-shooter Klay Thompson signed with Anta during the 2014-15 season and inked an 80 million USD 10-year extension in 2017. The most recent release of his signature sneaker, the Anta KT7, is quite possibly the best design yet. This ‘Remain White’ colorway is such a clean look, and the yarn speed fiber upper provides improved lightweight comfort and functional support.
In the 1990s, as more Western brands entered the Chinese market, sales of local brands such as Feiyue dropped dramatically. But around 2010, the classic sneaker brand began gaining popularity outside of China. Having been worn by musicians, models, pop stars, and hipsters in the West, it quickly became trendy for Westerners looking for something new.
Its classic design is based on the plimsoll shoes worn by Shaolin monks. With its white cotton canvas upper and sole material sourced from Dafu Shanghai Rubber Factory — which dates back to the 1930s, they are comfortable and affordable, much like the classic Chuck Taylor’s made by Converse. This mid-top take on the classic design offers slightly more ankle support and something for your pant leg to rest on.
Li-Ning is a Chinese sportswear and equipment company founded in 1989 by the former Olympic gymnast of the same name. In 2012, Li-Ning signed a partnership deal with then NBA star Dwayne Wade.
He has since retired, but his line with Li-Ning, ‘Way of Wade,’ has been worn by several NBA players, including Jimmy Butler, Fred VanVleet, and Willie Cauley-Stein — to name a few, and is now in its ninth iteration. D’Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been brought on by Wade as the brand’s on-court face and will be wearing these laceless mid-tops on the court this season.
Portland Trailblazer’s shooting guard CJ McCollum was initially signed with Nike. He became familiar with Li-Ning from his older brother, who played in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), and signed with Li-Ning in 2017. In March of this year, it was announced that his first signature sneaker — the CJ 1 — would be released this year.
These slick, white kicks with red accents are the perfect addition to any sneakerhead’s collection — or for hitting the court.
EQUALIZER is an independent start-up brand established in 2019. The brand is divided into two product lines: EQUALIZER Blue Grass, focusing on youth culture and curating events such as freestyle rap battles, and EQUALIZER Black Grass, which focuses on basketball and works closely with many of China’s streetball tournaments.
Both lines have carry apparel and footwear, including basketball shoes, and are branded with their logo 艹, which is the Chinese radical for grass. They recently released the EQUALIZER Oasis, which are slides perfect for the beach, after playing ball, or just to wear casually. With numerous colorways, there is a style and fit for everyone.
All images compiled by Sabina Islas
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