Sneakers and footwear are such an everyday part of our lives that I think we sometimes take it for granted. While I read about the latest Nike Quickstrikes on Hypebeast and query sizing options for Red Wing Gentleman Traveler’s on men’s fashion sites, I rarely take a step back and wonder about the history of a shoe. That’s exactly what a graphic student from Helsinki did on a visit to her homeland, China.
Shumeng Ye saw a cleaning lady wearing a pair of Warrior basketball sneakers at the airport and her interest was piqued. Instead of leaving it as a passing thought, she embarked on a project that revealed a rich 30 year history that spans social classes. What was once a sought after shoe, Warriors are now relegated to the working class — and they’re not complaining. A year later, Ye returned to China to take pictures and assembled what she saw through the lens into a book.
Flipping through it, you’re immediately humbled by the poverty of the people in a country of 1.3B people. However, after a half a minute of scanning the page, you can’t help but crack a smile at the pair of crisp white kicks on peoples’ feet in stark contrast to the surroundings. The book (packaged with a pair of Warrior shoes) is available for purchase online as well as at major trendhouses Colette (Paris), Wood Wood (Berlin), and Patta (Amsterdam). It is a limited edition of 420. To say that I am impressed that a student was able to document an obscure and forgotten sneaker brand and turn it into product with tiered placement and an excellent online presence, would be an understatement.