Really tough. Could the Nike X Undercover Daybreak be their React Element 87 of the year?
By Ray Zhang
I should have given up. Because in the end, I really shouldn’t stress over a pair of sneakers. Last year’s Nike React Element 87 was hard enough. I didn’t even try the collaborative version with Undercover. Even the regular release, as it turned out, was somewhat of a holy grail, unless you are willing to pay the ridiculous prices months later at Sole Superior.
Similarly, the Nike X Undercover Daybreak was so impossible to cop that I started to wonder if some powerful reseller has direct access to them before the rest of us could even have a glimpse of it, online or offline. The Daybreak by what I consider one of the best sneaker collaborations of the past five years is a shoe of palpable authenticity and, concurrently, Japanese quirk.
The Daybreak has been dead (or, on a positive note, hibernation) for 30 years. All shoes in Nikeland, as we keep seeing, can be undead. In resurrecting the Daybreak, Undercover has mostly kept to its original form—the for-running foam mid-sole and très old-school black rubber waffle out-sole!—except the heel counter, which looks like it came from outer space. Did someone dig his heels in on the garbage planet Saakar?
These days, heels are where designers concentrate their efforts. From Rick Owen’s pairing with Adidas (which sadly ended last year) for the Runners (2013) to A Cold Wall X Nike’s Zoom Vomero 5, with the blockish heel counter (and idea also seen in Sacai’s hybridising of classic Nike silhouettes), the rear is now more than ever an invitation for unseeing pedestrians/commuters/strollers to kick or step on.
The major lure for me, however, is how the shoe is decidedly retro without venturing into dad-shoe territory. I find the nylon upper and the suede trim of the toe box and the eye stay a perfect match: classic case of opposites attract. That in Nike’s communication materials for this Daybreak, the sneakers are paired with a pair of corduroy slacks is certainty that it will have retro appeal.
Last night, I started monitoring the Nike website for the release of the shoe. Even at midnight, it said “coming soon”. Looking at the countdown counter, I knew I could go to sleep and wake up to buy it. At thirty minutes to nine this morning, when the Daybreak would be released, I sat in front of my PC and was ready. I readied my smartphone too, just in case. At nine, sharp, I clicked on the image of the shoe, chose the colour (blue!), and size, and clicked “add to cart”. The rejoinder was “Please try again. Sorry, there was a problem processing your request. Please try to add to basket again.” This went on for the next 30 minutes. In the end, I gave up.
Nike X Undercover Daybreak is launched today on nike.com and DSMS. It is, as we understand, sold out. Photos: Nike
Update (15 June 2019): After releasing the black and blue Daybreak sneakers, a green version will reportedly be out on 21 June. Good luck!