At the tail end of last year, Balmain’s Head of Sneaker Design, Safa Sahin, teased a sneaker that nearly broke the internet. At the time, no one knew the name of the sneaker (Unicorn) or any release information. What we got was a thank you from Sahin to Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing for bringing the project to life.
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Fast forward half a year later and the sneaker, now officially called the “Unicorn,” was given a quickstrike release through Kith and will see a wider public launch. Let me break down below the design and why I think this will be a sneaker people put into their annual “Sneaker of the Year” charts come December.
If you’ve ever been to Miami or a poppin’ port city in another country, you’ve probably come across cigarette boats — you know those fast as f*ck, skinny long boats that you always see in movies about drug smuggling. The Balmain Unicorn draws inspiration from the aerodynamics of those boats and also equates speed into the design.
Another influence is anime, which is quickly gaining popularity around the world. You can see this in the large bold outlines and heavily accented bubble shapes. Those shapes aren’t just for show though, the shock-absorber cushioning system really works.
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I want to also talk about the technical innovations that this shoe features. Let’s start with the fact that it required 8 molds to create its multi-sectional sole. On top of that, 3 translucent bands “are threaded through the shoe’s central cavity and attached, on each side, to the matte PPU laces.” Any sneakerhead will tell you, comfort and a secure foot are key.
Why this is the best sneaker of the year
For me, this is the sneaker of the year because it instantly gets you talking and you just can’t take your eyes off of it. It doesn’t matter what angle you look at it from, it draws you in. I have yet to see this pair in person but the videos and images are doing it great justice so far.
Its taken the adidas YEEZY BOOST 700 “Wave Runner” — which is also supposed to evoke speed and luxury — and basically given it steroids. On top of that, like previously mentioned, bringing something out of Japanese manga (comics) and anime to life is an achievement in and of itself.
You can also style this sneaker many ways. Versatility is key for both fashionistas and sneakerheads alike.
How to cop
The pre-sale for the Balmain Unicorn is happening now via balmain.com. Currently, there are 4 options available. The neoprene and leather version in black and white is retailing for $1,195 along with a black leather version. If you have a $100 to spare (you should if you’re copping $1k+ sneaker at retail), the neoprene and leather version in black and orange or the online exclusive multicolor neoprene and leather version can be yours.
Balmain says that pre-orders are expected to ship by July 20. The online multicolor pair is already available to ship immediately.
I expect to see these in the streets of New York come Fashion Week. If you’re looking for something to help you through summer, try the Dior by Birkenstock sandals.
Photos via Safa Sahin, Kith, Balmain