Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Chinese Trend Setters?

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 8, 2011

WTF? This article is talking about retro Chinese sneakers being hip? Chinese used to wear sneakers? The only authentic footware I have seen is those old fashioned Mao slippers.


Heart and Sole

Retro Chinese sneakers are adorning trendy feet around the globe

While mainstream America toys with ideas about what it wants from a sneaker, Chinese brands adhere to a more traditional approach of making comfortable, durable athletic shoes. Those who find themselves habitually overcome with choice paralysis or have ripped through yet another pair of Vans may want to look to the east before considering their next sneaker purchase.

Feiyue: Long before Feiyue was French-owned and fashion-forward, the brand’s signature canvas sneaker was a uniform staple among the kung fu masters of 1920s Shanghai. Though the original design is still manufactured in China, most modern day versions found in Europe and North America are a result of rebranding that upped the quality and repositioned the martial arts footwear to be more conducive to, say, strolling the avenues of the Marais. Comfortable and functional—an upcoming gravity defying film, The Flying Project, will depict exactly how airborne the lightweight kicks can be—it is easy to understand why Feiyue has caught on overseas. The brand also landed back in Asia last summer, proving that what goes around does indeed come around.

Warrior: An ancient competitor of Feiyue, Warrior is Shanghai’s other heritage sneaker brand. A pioneer of what is now known as “upcycling,” Warrior footwear originated in 1927 as a means to reclaim excess rubber from tire production. Today, die-hard Warrior wearers can be found all over China sporting their trusty canvas kicks with pride. So timeless is the brand that it has stayed true to its original logo for nearly 75 years. Baring comparison to Feiyue’s recent attainment of street cred, these “Chuck Taylors of China” have skyrocketed in popularity around the world after being re-appropriated by retro sneakerheads more likely to source their court shoes from an underground boutique disguised as a bodega than a Foot Locker at the mall.

Shulong: Much like the aforementioned brands, Shulong also roots itself firmly in the Chinese tradition of comfort and well-being. But, despite its vintage aesthetic, Shulong is actually a relatively new brand. Just three years after French entrepreneur Brice Genin created it, the company has seen international success. Its canvas sneakers are available in a variety of colors, patterns and styles that render its reliable soles far from generic. Playing off the nickname of “The Comfortable Dragon,” Shulong’s website emphasizes the shoes’ versatility through photo sets documenting them in Shanghai, on workers and on bikes. And, like any good modern sneaker brand, the line is also tapping local artists for limited edition collections, the first of which is hand-painted.

Read this online at trendcentral.com.

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