We sat down to talk to KB and Eddie Cruz from Undefeated about their collaboration with New Balance spawning the release of their UNDFTD x New Balance 1500 Desert Storm. The great thing about these shoes, for this specific collaboration, is the fact that this is the first time UNDFTD has worked with New Balance US team. Having worked with New Balance Japan on numerous occasions, it’s so nice to see two brands working from an American perspective. A great teaming for both parties, Undefeated being a highly influencial brand name within the sneaker culture with such a rich history and story, and New Balance; a sneaker brand who has been around for some time who have also helped mould and shape the industry as we know it today.
These shoes are dropping this Saturday 15th May. Armed Forces Day. Retail Price is to be US $128 available at all UNDFTD US chapter stores…
Enjoy our exclusive interview with KB and Eddie Cruz below..
The inspiration for the shoe is obvious, tell us about why you think military inspired prints, styles, function resonates so well with the street community?
KB: There’s a quality behind military equipment that everyone is intrigued by. It has a lot purpose behind it and its made for the most extreme conditions. Having access to those qualities is what gets people excited. It already has a story within itself. It is made with strategy, durability, and most importantly function. Aesthetically, it just looks good.
EC: There’s something about the toughness and functionality of proper military gear that translates well onto the streets. In this case, it was important for us to make the camouflage look as authentic as possible, but at the same time have a little fun with it.
You’ve worked with NB for a long time out of Japan now, why has it taken till now to work on a USA based collaboration?
KB: New Balance in Japan is much more popular in the lifestyle culture than in the U.S. It was easier to do collaborations with New Balance Japan given that setting. There needs to be a bit more convincing in the US. Fortunately, we had the help of our friend Jeremy Davis from New Balance U.S. to bring our industry/culture to the table.
EC: I think New Balance is a separate entity all together in Japan. Through our shops out there, it was easy to make things happen. The problem was shipping it to the USA was way too expensive. New Balance USA added a few like minded people to there team that understand the importance of what our industry brings to the market. Hence, we’re now fortunate enough to work directly with the USA offices.
NB is an interesting brand, known so strongly for its US based manufacturing, and yet the shoes seem more popular in Japan? Any thoughts on this?
KB: People out in Japan are always into quality made products. There’s hype and there’s trends, but at the end of the day, they are looking for quality made products.
EC: Fashion occurs in Japan 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Simply put, there up on there game. They appreciate classic American Brands and know how to bring it to market in a cool authentic way. First time I saw New Balance collaborations was at Beams in Tokyo. It blew me away. This was like 10 years ago!
When you look at sneaker culture and the way its changed in recent years, collaborations need to offer a genuine story in order to be unique now, tell us the story behind this shoe?
KB: The concept was inspired by a patch that was used during Operation Desert Storm. From there, we wanted make everything authentic. From the type of suede, to the chocolate chip camo, it all has a history lesson involved. They were all used in the Gulf War.
EC: We did it to help commemorate Armed Forces Day
As sneaker culture has changed, how have UNDFTD stayed on top?
KB: It’s an interaction between giving the customers what they want and showing them what they want.
EC: We’re evolving into a proper sneaker shop. Not just offering “hard to get” kicks. If you rely on that aspect of the business to survive, then your in big trouble.
UNDFTD have worked with so many companies in creating new shoes and special versions of sneakers over the years, whats unique about working with New Balance?
KB: This is the first time we are working with New Balance US. They have a lot of models that people are not aware of in this market. That is very exciting in itself. Plus, their shoes are well made and very comfortable…functional.
EC: They let us do our thing and take direction really well. We have enough experience now to know what’s realistic with what we can and cannot do. I think we hit the nail on the head with this project after just seeing one prototype. Peace….