ARTICLE BY Boon

The Best Sneaker Collaborations From Korean Brands

g-dragon nike air force 1

The enduring love affair between sneakerheads and Japan is well-documented, with some of the game’s greatest brands, retailers and collaborations hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun. However, in the past decade, their neighbours across the pond have begun to make a splash, forging their own distinctive standing in the sneaker world.

South Korea is now a bona fide cultural powerhouse, built on the rampant popularity of K-pop, a burgeoning film industry, and a world-leading tech space. In the sartorial stakes, they’ve become one of the regions to watch, with dozens of emerging local labels taking their place among the upper echelons of the fashion realm. Naturally, this has had a trickle-down impact on their sneaker scene.

Over the past couple of years, many of South Korea’s leading streetwear labels and designers have linked up with giants of the sneaker world, forging some of the dopest collaborations in recent memory. Here’s a look at some of our favourites. 

Kasina x Nike Dunk Low

Kasina x Nike Dunk Low

One of South Korea’s most revered streetwear labels, Kasina first opened in Busan (South Korea’s second largest city) in 1997. Founded by former pro skater EunHyuk Lee, the brand churned out their most hyped collaboration to date in 2020, creating two renditions of the on-trend Nike Dunk Low.

The project celebrates the cross-country commute, and takes aesthetic cues from the Gyeongbu Expressway (the central highway between Busan and Seoul) and Seoul’s vintage buses from the 1980s, arriving in stunning ‘Neptune Green’ and ‘Industrial Blue’ colourways.

KANGHYUK x Reebok Premier Modern

KANGHYUK x Reebok Premier Modern

Since being announced as one of the nominees for the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2019, KANGHYUK have become known as one of most daring design houses out of Seoul.

After putting their own spin on the Zig Kinetica earlier this year, the label stepped things up a notch, diving into the Reebok archive to rework the Premier Classic. The result was new silhouette dubbed the Premier Modern. Reinforced all over with heat-welded overlays and TPU elements based on dynamic forms, the sneaker’s energetic upper is complemented by DMX RIDE foam in the sole unit.

After debuting exclusively at Dover Street Market in an all-black colourway, the Premier Modern has since arrived in a motorcycling-inspired red and white scheme.

ader error puma rs-100
via Habitat

ADER Error x PUMA RS-100

We’ve never seen a remake of PUMA’s famed 1986 RS-Computer Shoe, but ADER Error brought us something pretty close to it in 2018. Remixing the RS-100, they stylised a modern silhouette just like the RS-Computer, right down to the heel.

Of course, they had to make the colourway retro AF too, elevating it further with premium leather, mesh, suede, and next-level packaging.

thisisneverthat x New Balance 827
thisisneverthat x New Balance 827

thisisneverthat x New Balance 827

Seoul-based thisisneverthat have quickly become one of the most ubiquitous South Korean streetwear labels around, and they’ve managed to forge a popular partnership with New Balance along the way.

Following a ‘Physical Fitness Uniform’ 997 in 2019, they joined in on the return of the 827 in 2020, unveiling two seriously wearable colourways. Arriving in black and brown, the sneaker features an ABZORB midsole with TPU stability web, nylon webbing details with reflective print, and co-branded insoles.

Selling out in quick time, we expect future collaborations to be equally hot commodities.

PEACEMINUSONE x Nike Air Force 1

PEACEMINUSONE x Nike Air Force 1 ‘Para-Noise’

After making a name for himself as the leader of trailblazing K-pop group Big Bang, G-Dragon has since shifted his focus to fashion. Forming his PEACEMINUSONE label in 2016, G-Dragon has been thrust into the world of sneakers thanks to a partnership with Nike.

In 2019, PEACEMINUSONE created an uber-hyped Air Force 1, coming through with one of the most distinctive takes on the iconic silhouette that we’ve seen. The ‘Para-Noise’ colourway celebrated hip hop, with G-Dragon citing the Uptown’s meaning to the genre as being ‘greater than just shoes’. With its fat laces, daisy details, and painted midsole, the sneaker certainly resulted in a ‘Big Bang’ among the reseller market.

With the ‘Para-Noise 2.0’ set to hit the sneakersphere in late 2020, we expect G-Dragon to be a major collaborator with the Swoosh for years to come. 

Don't Forget to check out more All-Time Greatest Sneakers here.

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