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Lucky Eight: The Best Chinese New Year Sneakers

Date: February 15 2018

By: Matt Williams


Happy New Year! Chinese New Year, that is! It’s time to farewell the Rooster and ring in the Year of the Dog. And what better way to do it than with something fresh on-foot. There are plenty of new special edition releases hitting shelves in celebration of China’s biggest holiday, but you’ll need to wind back the clock to find the very best. We’ve trawled through the archives to unearth the luckiest eight. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Nike Air Force 1 ‘Year of the Dog – Hyperstrike’

After 12 years, the Year of the Dog is upon us again, so what better shoe to sport than Nike’s 2006 ‘Year of the Dog’ Air Force 1! They say that fashion is cyclical, and so it’s time to bring this classic Uptown back into rotation. Extra respect if you’re willing to wear the uber-limited and extra fancy Hyperstrike edition that featured a horsehair heel. Just beware, after 12 years on ice, the midsole on these beastly beauties will be fragile. Tread lightly!

Nike Air Foamposite One ‘Tianjin’

Nike have put together an exquisite Air Foamposite One specially for this year’s Chinese New Year revelries. And if you’re looking to welcome the year in serious style, they’re frontrunners for sure. However, if your red envelopes are feeling plump and you’re in the mood to stunt, there’s only one Foam to wear: the Air Foamposite One ‘Tianjin.’

Released in 2015 as an Asia-exclusive Quickstrike, this make-up celebrated not only the looming Year of the Goat, but also the city of Tianjin – widely regarded as the birthplace of basketball in China. The design features lotus flowers and koi fish, with Chinese characters that wish ‘prosperity through the years’ on the heels. These Foams don’t come cheap, but the lack of zodiac-specific branding makes them the perfect choice for every Chinese New Year to come – a veritable bargain if you ask us!

CLOT x Nike Air Force 1 ‘1World’

No ifs or buts about it – CLOT produced the best Air Force 1 in Nike’s entire 1World venture! The Hong Kong-based retailer delivered two shoes in one with these beautiful red silk Uptowns that could be cut and burned to reveal an intricately laser-engraved leather upper beneath. The oversized candy box packaging was equally decadent. The colab released in 2009 to celebrate the forthcoming Year of the Ox, but only in Hong Kong, which certified their grail status among AF-1 collectors. If you’re lucky enough to own a deadstock pair, then we think it’s time to finally take them off ice – this is one shoe that can only be fully appreciated with wear and tear!

adidas Ultra Boost 3.0 ‘CNY’

If you want to stunt your wealth, you can cop a pair of ‘Chinese New Year’ UltraBOOST 1.0s – or the recent 4.0s if you’re looking for something a little cheaper. But for our money, 2016’s 3.0s are the pick of the bunch! Some say they rock a ‘mincemeat’ vibe, but we can’t get enough of that vibrant red knit. Don’t let the CNY name fool you, SF staffer, Boon, keeps them in regular year-round rotation.

Nike Air Yeezy 2 'Red October'

Okay, so this one mightn’t seem CNY-related, but hear us out. A veil of mystery has long hung over the Air Yeezy 2 ‘Red October.’ After nearly a year of teasing, and with Kanye already having switched sides to the Stripes, Nike randomly released the red and gold Yeezy 2 on February 9, 2014 – right in the middle of China’s Year of the Horse celebrations. Coincidence? We think not!

Air Jordan 7 ‘Year of the Rabbit’

CNY-themed releases have become an annual Jordan Brand tradition, but our vote for the best Jay to wear this new year goes to Jordan’s very first effort: the Air Jordan 7 ‘Year of the Rabbit.’ This limited edition make-up was released in 2011 to celebrate MJ’s very own zodiac sign and served as a witty reworking of the classic AJ7 ‘Hare.’ Red and gold accents kept with the celebratory theme, but were subtle enough to work these into your daily rotation – especially with a change of laces!

Nike SB Dunk High ‘Red Packet’

Inspired by the traditional red envelopes exchanged during Chinese New Year, Nike’s skateboarding division celebrated the Year of Horse with this sizzling red and gold Dunk High. While undeniably flashy, the all-suede toe caps meant the Dunks were perfect for skating once the party was over. Chinese characters on the insoles and the inclusion of a red envelope – filled with custom coin dubraes – were all nice additions, but it was the sprinkling of gold glitter through the outsole that really set these off. The ‘Moneycat’ Dunk trio are also worthy picks for SB diehards.

PUMA Clyde ‘Chinese New Year’

This special edition Clyde is far and away the most low-key sneaker on this list. In fact, it might just be the most understated Chinese New Year sneaker ever! Iridescent Formstripes and Mandarin characters at the heels are the only standout features of this premium 2017 release. So, why are these black leather Clydes on our list? Well, for that very fact: they are black leather Clydes! With these on your feet, you’re guaranteed to spend less time worrying about casualties from a messy banquet and more time celebrating!

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