WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
Gwang Shin is about to do a Jordyn Woods. No, we don’t mean that he’s about to provide KUWTK’s next season with a melodramatic story arc (we see you Kris Jenner); we mean that he’s about to go from who? to household name in the space of 5 minutes. But upon conversing with the graphic-designer-turned-sneaker-creator, we get the impression that he doesn’t quite know it yet.
One of the six winners of Nike’s global ‘On Air’ competition, Gwang’s sneaker design ― the ‘Neon Seoul’ 97 ― is already on track to be the most sought-after sneaker of the year. And it’s worth noting that this hype comes even before the sneaker has an official release date.
Both humble and confident in his style, Gwang is a worthy winner for a multitude of reasons. His re-work of the Nike Air Max 97 silhouette, which harmoniously balances being forward-thinking and familiar, breathes new life into the classic silhouette. We caught-up with Gwang and talked style, inspirations and all things Nike.
Why did you choose to reinvent the Nike Air Max 97?
The Air Max 97 was the first Nike sneaker I owned; I loved my pair of 97s so much that I wore them until they broke. Because of my love for the sneaker and the memories I associate with it, it was my first pick of silhouette.
What was your highlight of working with Nike?
Visiting Nike WHQ in Oregon was the most amazing experience. The first time I saw a sample of my Neon Seoul sneaker at the Blue Ribbon Studio was certainly a special experience which I will never forget.
How is the Neon Seoul sneaker inspired by Seoul?
I was inspired by the energy that the neon signs bring to Seoul. They are literally everywhere and seemed to be always turned on, even during the day! They are symbolic of the people of Seoul who are also filled with energy.
What's the secret to designing a great sneaker?
There’s no secret, it’s simple: I just design shoes that I want to wear.
What was life like before the ‘On Air’ competition?
I was (and still am) a graphic designer and sneakerhead.
What's next for you once the sneaker releases?
My next goal is to launch a streetwear brand. This has been my long-standing goal, and now is the best chance to implement it.
What other colourways of the Neon Seoul would you like to see in the future?
A white Neon Seoul, just like my concept art here.
Will the Neon Seoul fit the same as a Nike Air Max 97?
Yes, they fit the same as the OG.
Other than that of your own design, what are your top 3 Nike sneakers of the moment?
Union LA x Air Jordan 1, React Element 87 and Mars Yard 2.0.
What is the Neon Seoul sneaker best styled with?
In my opinion a relaxed-fit hoodie and co-ord pants.
Describe your own personal style in 3 words...
Minimalist with Nike.
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