rare nike trainers - dragon year chinese

Nike Celebrates Chinese New Year In Style

New Year may mean January 1st in most countries, but in China, it has a whole different meaning and some will soon be expressing it with their feet.

The Lunar New Year brings a different animal theme each time according to the Chinese Zodiac, and as the Year of the Rabbit comes to an end, it is time for the Year of the Dragon to begin. As the most iconic of creatures, the mythical fire-breathing beast will bring extra spectacle to the festivities.

Celebrations will start when the New Year commences on February 10th and across China, several other Far-Eastern countries such as Taiwan, Malaysia and Korea, plus anywhere in the world with an expat Chinese population, there will be plenty of fun, food and tradition to enjoy.

Nike’s Dragon Lands

Fans of limited edition Nike trainers will have an extra reason to celebrate, for the company never misses a chance to mark the event and it has done so in particularly grand style this year, with the “Chinese New Year” Air Force 1 Low.

The Year of the Dragon is marked by the latest silhouette, which comes in a fine gold silk fabric, to which a lot of thematic detailing is added. This includes golden-headed dragons in silver and violet embroidered into the shoe panels and more embroidery on the toes.

Add to that a gold-branded tongue, cream laces and other gold and cream touches and you have a shoe that truly stands out, making it great to wear and wonderful to collect. Even in a large collection, few others will look anything like it.

The appearance isn’t all about dragon iconography, of course, with the Nike Air logo being juxtaposed with a repeating character from the Chinese alphabet, which translates to “double the happiness”.

That doubling might have something to do with the fact that the launch date is February 14th, matching an Eastern festival with a Western one. Indeed, for anyone who fancies getting their loved one a Nike-themed Valentine’s gift, this may be a particularly compelling prospect.

On the other hand, the sheer fact that Chinese New Year and the launch of a new collectible Nike coincide may be enough to double the happiness for many people, so perhaps having Valentine’s Day in there too will triple it.

Past Nike New Year Drops

For many collectors, much of the excitement will come from the fact that this is far from the first time that Nike has brought out a striking new shoe to mark the Chinese New Year.

Last year, for example, the start of the Year of the Rabbit was marked by the launch on January 18th 2023 of the Women’s Dunk Low. This leather product came with a black and white base with an array of coloured overlays, including yellow, pink and orange swooshes, a speckled midsole and an embroidered Nike heel logo.

In 2022, the Year of the Tiger was marked by the drop of Air Force 1 Lows with a white frontage, while the heel was black and orange stripes to resemble a tiger’s coat. There was also a tiger embroidered on the side of the heel.

The New Year of 2021 brought the Year of the Ox, with Nike and Jordan launching a range to celebrate that included The Kyrie 7, the Air Max 2009, the Air Jordan 1 Low and the Jordan Delta Breathe.

Naturally, the substantial number of different shoes meant there was no way they could all have the same design, but they did all include one of three themes: the exploding firecracker, the artisan knot and the natural spring blossom.  

A New Tradition To Match With The Old

It is not just that each New Year provides another opportunity to design something new; the fact that every year has an established traditional theme offers the chance to design something based at least in part on the animal in question, as well as drawing from all sorts of long-established Chinese cultural, symbolic and linguistic traditions.

The 2024 edition trainers are, therefore, the latest in a long line that is becoming something of a modern tradition to align with the old. This combination - some might say marriage (well, it is launching on February 14th) is one that many Nike fans will now be looking out for every time Chinese New Year comes around, even if it is not an event they personally celebrate.

Indeed, while some will be keen on getting their hands on the new gold silhouette Air Force Low 1, there will be just as much anticipation when 2025 rolls around and everyone waits to see what Nike comes up with for the Year of the Snake.

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