Ye Chun COLOR Nike Air Foamposite One Sole Mates
Sneakers have almost always been admired globally, but few cities in the world can identify with a certain silhouette so strongly that they confidently claim it as part of their culture. Once people hear “New York City” they automatically think of Timberland boots and
The sneaker company owner is an avid collector of Foamposites, and even had sample pairs in his possession before the Eric Avar-designed offering debuted to the public in 1997. He religiously studied almost everything on beetle-inspired kicks since its origins. its way into the mainstream. And he is one of the first to recognize his profound impact on his local community and the culture of Tianjin, so much so that his city has named itself the “hometown of bubbles” – unofficially declaring the model his own.
In this latest episode of Sole MatesHYPEBEAST caught up with Chun to talk about his plethora of rare sneakers, how he played a pivotal role in bringing the Tianjin-influenced Air Foamposite colorways to fruition and more.
HYPEBEAST: What made you love sneakers?
YC: I would say it really started in 1986 when I started watching the NBA, and that’s when I started feeling drawn to the sneakers that players were wearing. I gradually started to pay more attention to Michael Jordan’s miraculous performances and how his sneakers played such a big part in his career, and I’ve been immersed in the sneaker space ever since.
At that time, everyone wore brands like Huili and Pisces, and having a pair of basketball shoes could almost be described as a “dream” for ordinary families like mine. Getting into this line of business can kind of be seen as compensation for the things I missed during my childhood.
Do you remember your first pair of sneakers?
The first pair of sneakers I owned were the Air Jordan 2 Low “Chicago”, given to me by Wang Zhong, another DEAL manager at the time. I still think the Air Jordan 2 ranks in the top nine of the Air Jordan series. It is certainly one of the most comfortable.
As a veteran of the Tianjin sneaker circle, what do you think created the inseparable relationship between the city and the Foamposite?
I think there are three inseparable relationships between Tianjin and Foams. First, sneaker culture was actually split between the northern and southern ends of China, and the colder environment in the north is what helped sneaker culture get started. The Nike Air Foamposite One was hugely popular in many northern cities thanks to its futuristic shape and thermal properties.
As an important northern coastal port city, Tianjin has always been a transit point for goods. Back then, when mosses couldn’t enter China through official Nike channels, they poured into parts of Tianjin through unofficial channels, and the city has been inseparable from it ever since.
Second, the family conditions of children in Tianjin at that time were average, and children paid close attention to the durability and cost-effectiveness of sneakers. The foams have very durable materials, are easy to maintain and provide extreme comfort thanks to the double-layered Zoom Air cushioning, which is why it has undoubtedly become one of the most popular products in Tianjin.
We hear you have plenty of rare mosses in your collection. What do you think of seeing the evolution of the model?
Certainly. As many of you know, Nike Foams officially debuted on the market in 1997, but we have sample pairs of the OG “Royal Blue” colorway from 1995 and 1996. There are subtle differences in the shape and brand that few have ever seen. before, and it was a joy to see its original shape and detail.
What is the difference between the sneaker culture in Tianjin and other Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai?
I think the sneaker culture in Tianjin is quite special. The sneaker culture in this city has the same forward thinking as northern cities and acceptance of southern cities. Beijing and Shanghai can be seen as two extreme cities, and Tianjin falls somewhere in between.
For sneaker culture in Tianjin, the “bubble” is the root.
The Nike Air Foamposite One “Tianjin Spray”, released in 2015, skyrocketed the city’s passion for “bubbles” to its peak. Did you play a significant role in helping this shoe come to life?
You can definitely say that we played a role in its deployment. Once, Gentry Humphrey – former president of Nike Sportswear footwear and apparel products – unexpectedly visited COLOR in Tianjin. We had the chance to cut him up and show him all the mosses we had collected over the years and he was very impressed with our passion for them. After seeing this, he made sure that the city of Tianjin had its own special colorway of the Air Foamposite One – the “Tianjin Spray”.
It’s been 18 years since COLOR opened in 2004, what changes have you seen in the sneaker culture in Tianjin, and is Foams still a top model in the current scene?
Over the past 17 years, there have been countless sneaker events big and small. We’ve seen the rapid development of sneaker technology, the replacement of basketball shoes and running shoes, the revival of Air Jordan 1s and SB Dunks, and the popularity of co-branded sneakers. But no matter how times change, there is always a group of young people wearing foams in front of Tianjin COLOUR. For sneaker culture in Tianjin, the “bubble” is the root.
We know that almost all DEAL stores develop under DEAL or WZK names. Only COLOR retains the original store name, and there is only one store in Tianjin. Does this represent some kind of persistence in your hometown of Tianjin?
DEAL, WZK and COLOR are three store IPs belonging to the same DEAL group. DEAL and WZK are more representative of services and consumers across the country, while COLOR is a deeply rooted local sneaker culture in Tianjin. Each city’s culture is unique, so COLOR’s intellectual property has always been unique, representing the original intention of Tianjin’s sneaker culture.
COLOR has recently updated and improved its logo. What is the meaning of the new badge?
Tianjin COLOR’s new logo still uses four colors of red, blue, green and yellow, which represent our main attributes. However, the stories we have with sneakers over the years are our true color.
This issue of Sole Mates originally appeared on HYPEBEAST CN and has been adapted accordingly.