Beijing-based streetwear brand SOULGOODS have dipped their toes back into the realm of mainstream fashion partnering up with Nike, reimagining the iconic ‘Nike Dunk High’ silhouette. The collection includes three colour ways, each one paying homage to a different decade, from the ’80s through to the 2000s. SOULGOODS is firmly established within China’s bustling streetwear subculture, they adopt a key overarching mantra for any items they release – each item must exist in a way that indicates the presence of a ‘Soul’ – which can be seen in the brand’s consistent connection to their culturally Chinese roots. The brand’s logo, a tiger, relates to ‘a calm temperament’ and a ’spiritual outlook’ – and the roar of the tiger is a physical representation of the brand’s strive to ‘deliver the voice from the soul’.
The first shoe is designed to reference the influence of basketball on the sneaker culture within both the USA and China. The shoe comes in a greyscale colour palate, the neutral tones hark back to basketballs urban roots, a sport celebrated on busy concrete courts in the USA, China and beyond. I could write a book (and many people have) regarding the influence of Basketball on streetwear, music, and society, the 1980s brought about a period of ‘basketball mania’ within China: during this time the Chinese state media began televising NBA games – massively increasing viewership of the sport.
The second shoe takes us back to the 90’s, a period of massive cultural change for both the US and China – heavily driven by the growing influence of hip/hop and rap music on the younger generations as well as its influence on the club scene, which underwent massive growth within the decade. The shoe includes SOULGOODS recognisable tiger emblem, and in a similar way to the 1980’s celebratory shoe utilises neutral tones, with a woodland green colourway on the upper and a black sole. The first two shoes in the collection very much adopt the ‘simplicity is key’ design mantra – letting the neutral tones of the shoes paint a detailed picture of their complex socio-cultural inspirations (Basketball and Music).
The final shoe in the collection goes all out, breaking away from the ‘neutral-toned status-quo culminating in a vibrant ‘tie dye’ design. The overarching theme is to celebrate sneaker fans, sports enthusiasts and art enjoyers who saw the culmination of ’80s and ’90s influences during the progressive 2000s period. The bright design choice in many ways represents the many different influences from the decades that preceded it. Inscribed on the sneaker are the phrases ‘Never Change’ and ‘Always Change’ – these messages of empowerment are closely linked to SOULGOODS brand ethos, which puts the expression of oneself and the visibility of the ‘soul’ at the core of its designs and projects.
This collaboration highlights the multi-faceted nature of streetwear fashion and the socially rooted stimuli that shape it. It’s striving towards celebrating the past as well as empowering the present and shaping the future is an important reminder of the fashion industry’s ability to create positive societal impacts.