We’re celebrating the ‘Year of the Dragon’ with a round up of some of the sickest sneaker releases that have paid homage to this epic lunar celebration.
The Chinese New Year has long been celebrated through the sneaker world, with brands really upping their game to mark this auspicious occasion. Vibrant, boundary-pushing colourways have celebrated Chinese culture through bold embellishments and creative artwork plastered across the shoe. The animals that define each year have also been well represented, from furry laces to snakeskin panelling.
2024 marks the beginning of the ‘Year of the Dragon’, to which Nike and Jordan brand have once again brought the heat with a special collection paying homage to the lunar year. We take a look at these and a few other favourites, from the many CNY sneaker releases that have captured the attention of sneakerheads around the world. Each release bringing a unique blend of cultural inspiration and creative design, making them highly coveted additions to any sneaker collection.
AIR JORDAN 1 LOW OG ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR’
Embodying the spirit of the Dragon, this Air Jordan 1 Low OG boasts a range of culturally significant colours, such as gold, red, and jade and features leather overlays akin to the scales of said zodiac animal. The branding has also been given a themed update, with the Jumpman on the inside tongue encircled by the mythological creature, as well as a special edition hangtag which adopts a floral symbol for good fortune.
NIKE AIR FORCE 1 LOW ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR’
This limited-edition, standout AF1Low captures the essence of the Chinese New Year with its rich symbolism and premium design. The entirety of the upper is covered in a regal gold silk material, intricately embroidered with floral patterns and Swoosh logos throughout. The standout detail on this pair is the embroidery of a dragon on the lateral side of the left shoe, while a phoenix appears on the right shoe as a symbol of harmony. The silk pattern also covers the entirety of the midsole, while a tan outsole sits below.
NEW BALANCE 1906U LUNAR NEW YEAR
New Balance partakes in this year’s lunar celebrations with its newly-unveiled 1906U silhouette in pink and off-white colourways. The utility-oriented version of the 1906 is constructed with a ripstop textile base and synthetic overlays in both of its looks, with the upper featuring a blend of materials, including premium suede and mesh. The first favours ‘Pink Spell’ as its signature hue, with the light colour dressing a majority of the upper and accenting the N-ERGY-cushioned sole unit. As for the other pair, off-white is balanced with silver hits making an appearance again at the ‘N’ logo on the side panel, and a portion of the overlays.
AIR JORDAN 1 LOW ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR’
Limited to just 8,500 pairs, the Air Jordan 1 Low OG ‘Chinese New Year’ celebrated the Year of the Ox. The special edition released in the classic ‘Bred’ colour blocking with a festive jacquard print throughout the textile upper. The embroidered graphics include florals and overt references to an ox throughout, along with a gold Jordan Wings logo on the heel tab. Standard Nike Air branding adorns the woven tongue tag and sockliner. The kicks are packaged with a tasselled rope bracelet and a red envelope containing a collectible card, both inspired by Chinese New Year gifting traditions.
AIR JORDAN 13 ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR’
The AJ13 Retro ‘Chinese New Year’ kicked off the Year of the Rat with a pastel colour scheme and a unique Chinese coin-inspired design on the sneaker’s signature side panels. The neutral hues atop are contrasted by a green holographic ‘cat eye’ on the lateral heel and a soft pink finish on the panther paw outsole. A black and white Jumpman adorned tongue tag is the finishing touch. The patterning on the white upper is particularly noteworthy, elevating a silhouette that’s already eye-catching.
NIKE AIR MAX 1 ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR LONGEVITY’
Expressing a theme of longevity, the Nike Air Max 1 received a colourful and experimental makeover for the Chinese New Year. The ‘collage’ like shoe design features a subtle dragon that adorns the leather quarter panel, while the fuchsia patent leather mudguard is embossed with Chinese characters. Showcasing a vibrant colour scheme, the shoe is highlighted by an acid washed denim toe box, metallic gold eyelets and a mix of butterfly and floral motifs at the collar and heel. A black midsole offsets the complex arrangement up top.
ADIDAS ULTRA BOOST OG ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR’
The adidas UltraBoost OG ‘Chinese New Year’ celebrated the lunar holiday with bold graphic flourishes and Chinese themed accents. A breathable Primeknit upper in Crystal White is enlivened with a large, embroidered tiger atop the vamp, while a lotus flower print adds contrasting pops of colour to either side of the Boost midsole and semi-translucent heel counter. The latter features metallic gold UltraBoost branding, matching the lace tips and adidas logo hit on the tongue tag.
PHARRELL X ADIDAS SOLAR HU GLIDE ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR’
The Pharrell x adidas shoe rang in the Year of the Pig as part of a collaborative CNY Pack. The lifestyle runner features a red and black knitted upper with gold accents and special embroidery on the toe of each shoe – ‘Hu’ on the right and the Chinese ‘Fu’ symbol on the left. It all sits on a full-length Boost midsole in classic white.
NIKE AIR MAX 98 ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR’
Having a similar pattern as the 2015 ‘Tianjin’ Foamposites, the AM98 commemorated the Chinese New Year with a maximalist design. The shoe’s upper is constructed from a mix of exotic textiles such as pony hair and snakeskin. The exterior is detailed with a ‘Bai Jia Yi’ quilted pattern, red patent leather detailing and teal accents. Gold hits including the visible Max Air unit, speckled thick rope laces atop, white midsole and black rubber outsole displaying praying hands complete the design.
NIKE AIR FOAMPOSITE ONE ‘CNY’
The Nike Foamposite One Tianjin is one of the rarest Lunar New Year releases. The shoe features a colourful, floral prints and fireworks on the upper, inspired by the traditional decorations seen during the Lunar New Year celebrations in the city of Tianjin, China. The shoe also features a metallic gold swoosh and a red and gold embroidered heel. It’s all pulled together by the impressive icy translucent outsole which compliments the busy upper. As always, the Foamposite technology provides a lightweight and durable shoe. This release is considered a collector’s item, fetching some serious prices in the thousands.
NIKE DUNK HI PREMIUM SB ‘CNY’
Nike SB commemorated the Year of the Horse with the Dunk Hi Premium SB ‘CNY’ sneaker. This special edition of the skate-inspired Dunk takes inspiration from traditional Chinese colours that symbolise good luck and prosperity. From top to bottom, this all-red rendition features a premium suede and leather upper with metallic gold accents. A red midsole and glittery translucent outsole finish off the celebratory shoe.
There’s no doubt that the sneaker game has been elevated by the creativity and artistry of these Chinese New Year releases. So, here's to another year of dope kicks and cultural celebrations. ‘CNY’