ARTICLE BY Boon Mark Souphanh

The Best Tear-Away Sneakers of All Time

Nike Air Force 1 Low 1WORLD CLOT special box side shot

We saw it coming, but the tear-away sneaker trend has well and truly engulfed the sneakersphere. Champions of the ‘scratch and sniff’ approach, Nike have hidden some wild designs underneath some of their most memorable releases, and they’ve been doing so for quite some time now (contrary to popular belief).

The uppers may be wearing off, but the hype certainly isn’t. Here are the best tear-away sneaker releases of all time.

nike vandal 2003 Geoff McFetridge
via snkrzwrg

Nike Vandal Supreme 'Geoff McFetridge' (2003)

Perhaps the first-ever wear-away sneaker from Nike, 2003’s Vandal Supreme ‘Geoff McFetridge’ was inspired by the artist of the same name. Releasing initially in pinstripe blue and grey, the sneaker featured an extra layer of fabric on the upper, encouraging wearers to customise the look in their own way.

There’s no doubt this sneaker influenced a generation of customisers and DIY-style drops moving forward. In fact, Sean Wotherspoon created a bespoke Air Max 1 at NikeLab’s 21 Mercer location in New York City as an homage to the underrated Vandal colourway in 2018.

A follow-up grey/orange version of the ‘Geoff McFetridge’ released in 2005.

Nike Air Force 1 Low 1WORLD CLOT Special Box Edition
Nike Air Force 1 Low 1WORLD CLOT Special Box Edition
via Flightclub
Nike Air Force 1 Low 1WORLD CLOT Special Box Edition

CLOT x Nike 1World Air Force 1 Special Box Edition (2009)

In 2009, the Nike 1World Campaign delivered an Air Force 1 in collaboration with the modern kings of the tear-away sneaker: CLOT.

Inspired by the brand’s Chinese roots, the uber-rare Grail featured traditional Chinese red silk patterns, and came boxed in a red hexagonal box modelled off the ‘candy box’ used during Chinese New Year celebrations, bringing luck and prosperity.

The CLOT x Nike 1World Air Force 1 was a Hong Kong exclusive, and released in limited quantities. At present, pairs are known to fetch up to $15,000 on the resale market. Would you be game enough to tear ‘em up?

Nike Air Force 1 Low LX 'Tear away' on white

Nike Air Force 1 Low LX 'Tear-Away' (2020)

It’s not just uber-rare Air Force 1s that make the list. This aptly dubbed ‘Tear-Away’ take was one of the more memorable GR drops of 2020.

If you were new to the customisation craze, Nike had you covered, issuing the release with a few cautions. Cutting lines and a ‘Pull Here’ detail on the Swoosh and toebox gave you some guidance, while more instructions featured on the PVC packet (including warnings not to burn ’em or cut through the seams and leather).

AIR JORDAN 5 LOW CHINESE NEW YEAR side image
AIR JORDAN 5 LOW CHINESE NEW YEAR side image

Air Jordan 5 Low 'Chinese New Year' (2021)

Releasing as part of 2021’s Chinese New Year sneaker lineup, this Air Jordan 5 Low could be the most colourful tear-away sneaker in existence. Decked out in a seemingly low-key ‘Sail’ upper, the shoe tears away to reveal a wildly vibrant multicoloured pattern print underneath.

What better way to bring some good luck and prosperity to your rotation!

,Carpet Company x Nike SB Dunk High "Royal Pulse" on white
Carpet Company x Nike SB Dunk High "Royal Pulse" on white

Carpet Company x Nike SB Dunk High 'Royal Pulse' (2021)

In an era of crazy dunks, Carpet Company’s sought-after Nike SB Dunk High tears apart the competition. Producers of one-of-one apparel and boards, Carpet Company effectively brought the same DIY energy to iconic Dunk, dressing it in semi-translucent light blue overlays, which scratched away to reveal a playful yellow base.

Blessed with plenty of quirks and graphics, our favourite highlight has to be the ‘BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE HABIBIS AT CARPET COMPANY’ on the rear heel.

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