8 WTF Sneaker Moments of 2019
There’s been no shortage of truly bizarre sneaker moments this year. Donald Trump Jr. photoshopped a communist Nike Roshe Run, Snoop Dogg coined the Yeezy Slides a ‘Jail Slipper’, adidas revealed an all-white UltraBOOST for Black History Month, and Kanye West found a drip so wet he needed scuba boots to stay afloat. It’s time to unlace, these are the loosest sneaker moments of 2019.
Snoop Dogg Calls Yeezy Slides ‘Jail Slippers’
Snoop Dogg has been throwing so much shade at Kanye West that the sun may never rise in Calabasas again. But was it Snoop’s dig at Yeezy Slides that cut the deepest? When Kim Kardashian shared the Yeezy Slides on her Instagram, Snoop responded in the comments: '[Kim] getting dudes out of jail, now he gone sell jail slippers. W.T.F. None of my business.'
New York Sunshine Air Force 1
Celebrating the construction of UNKNWN’s new store in Wynwood, installation team New York Sunshine hammered together the industrialised Nike Air Force 1 ‘Install Team AF2.0’ in December. Built with seven custom silver nut-and-bolt hardware pieces, the Friends and Family edition of the Air Force 1 was shipped in shoe boxes made of scrap wood, and could only be opened by a screwdriver. Contemporary art, or Air Force 1 with a screw loose? We’ll let you be the judge. Regardless, the ‘Install Team AF2.0’ made just about as much noise as your neighbour drilling on a Saturday morning.
Zion Williamson Blows up the PG 2.5
When one of the biggest draft prospects since Michael Jordan fell clutching his knee, the world held its breath (Nike may have even gone blue in the face). Luckily, it was the sneakers that took the brunt of Zion Williamson’s huge 200cm, 120kg frame, the Duke prodigy literally blowing out his pair of PG 2.5s back in February.
Nike shares plummeted $1.46 billion after Zion hit the hardwood in one of the biggest college games of the year: Duke taking on their key rivals North Carolina.
The incident obviously didn’t deter Zion from the Swoosh, the number one draft pick later inking a deal with Jordan Brand that’s worth $75 million over five years (the richest rookie shoe deal in NBA history).
Nike Roshe Run ‘Hammer and Swoosh’
When Nike cancelled the Air Max 1 ‘Fourth of July’, conservative pundits fumed. Prompted by activist and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Nike pulled the release because of its use of the Betsy Ross flag and its connection to slavery.
In the fallout from that decision, things became so heated that the President’s own son decided to weigh in with a photoshopped Nike Roshe Run, complete with a Swoosh and sickle on the uppers (reminiscent of the communist hammer and sickle). The irony of the ‘Air Communist’ Roshe Run was not lost on social media, with users citing the Trump family’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
It’s not the first time the White House has responded to Nike’s political messaging. After the Emmy-nominated Dream Crazy commercial aired in 2018, Donald Trump called Colin Kaepernick a ‘son of a bitch’, and said Nike were ‘sending a terrible message’.
The Triple White Black History Month UltraBOOST
Talk about a colossal brain fade. What better way to celebrate Black History Month than with a Triple White UltraBOOST Uncaged? Backlash on social media was swift, and it didn’t take long for adidas to pull the release and issue a statement. ‘Toward the latter stages of the design process we added a running shoe to the collection that we later felt did not reflect the spirit or philosophy of how adidas believes we should recognise and honour Black History Month,’ the statement read. ‘After careful consideration, we have decided to withdraw the product from the collection.’ Oops.
Big Baller Brand Gets Trashed
The brand that simply won’t die. When Lonzo Ball’s manager and confidante Darren Moore stuffed a pair of signature ZO2 sneakers down a garbage chute, the death knell again tolled. Embroiled in a $3 million lawsuit, an F grade from the Better Business Bureau, and the defection of one of BBB’s founders and sons (Lonzo Ball), the video tweet of the doomed sneakers was perhaps one of the most symbolic and damaging moments for the brand thus far.
Still, Big Baller Brand continues to lurch forward behind its relentless frontman, LaVar Ball.
In October, LaVar responded to Lonzo’s potential signing with Nike: ‘Lonzo can think all day. He ain’t signing with nobody. Big Baller Brand. That’s what I said.’
Kanye Goes Deep with the Scuba Sneaker
We’ve certainly become accustomed to seeing some pretty outlandish footwear from Kanye West this year. From the algae-constructed Foam Runner to the extraterrestrial Yeezy BOOST 380 ‘Alien’, Kanye continues to subvert our very understanding of sneakers. In April, ‘Ye revealed perhaps his strangest look of 2019. On the way to his weekly Sunday Service, Kanye rocked a drip so deep he needed scuba shoes to stay afloat, the ultra-thin grey booties perhaps revealing his recent interest in luge boots. The look sent the Internet into overdrive, with 50 Cent laying down one of the more memorable tweets of 2019: ‘LOL GET THE F**K OUTTA HERE MAN’.
Nike Air Max FF 720
The Nike Air Max 720 was already one of the more polarising sneakers of 2019. The largest Air unit on record, the cellular silhouette was like an amoeba from space, spreading its biological properties across the Swoosh catalogue. But it was the Air Max FF 720 that really raised eyebrows, the bizarre creation begging to break ankles across the globe. With a closed-toe sandal design, an elastic strap reminiscent of the Huarache, and an Air Force 1–style outsole, the FF 720 is described much more easily the way the Internet perceived it: a steam iron.