Close Up: Another Elusive One

Even with a second drop, this well-hyped Nike X Undercover shoe is nearly impossible to cop. Some sneaker-seekers wonder if it actually exits. It does and it’s totally desirable


Nike X Undercover Daybreak P1

Nike and Undercover are playing hide and seek with us again. The second drop of their latest collab, like the hitherto nearly-impossible-to-find Element React 87 (including and especially the Undercover versions), is seen all over the Net, on every social media account you bother to follow, but in stores, both Nike and indie retailers, you’ll be convinced that, unlike the Gyakusou imprint produced by Nike and Jun Takahashi, all releases by the Swoosh and the brand that “makes noise, not clothes” are more holy grail than hot cakes.

The latest is a remake of the 1979 Daybreak, a sneaker Nike proudly calls “old-school”. But Jun Takahashi is never so obvious. Old-school in his hands can be retro-futuristic. And it is his not-quite-running-shoe-looking take that is clearly the draw. Crossing into “luxury streetwear” territory (but nothing as bland and repetitive as Yeezies), the new Daybreak—also known as Dbreak in some reports and e-shops—has all the elements that knowing sneakerheads call cool: a recognisable form factor, daring colour combinations (such as the second drop’s ‘bright citron’ or lemon yellow), and a defining feature—here an exaggerated “heel clip”.


Nike X Undercover Daybreak P2

It is really this heel clip (which looks inserted and can be removed, but not at all) in molded and speckled plastic extending upwards and outwards from the natural curve of the heel that really allows the shoe to stand out, if not stick out. And, win so many fans. While this detail in the rear is more decorative (a frame for Undercover’s underscored-U logo) than functional, it does give the shoe an edge that no other recent Nike release—even the Nike X Sacai LD Waffle Daybreak, with the superfluous double Swooshes—can top.

What is especially appealing to us is the Daybreak’s opposite of the dad silhouette that has belatedly gripped the imagination of the sneaker-buying public here. In your hands, the shoe may appear a tad too early Nike running shoes, but when worn there’s a slim-line sleekness that has been missing in sneakers since the return of the Stan Smith in 2014 or post-Balenciaga Triple S—the kick that really kicked aside all shoes not as ungainly. Who’d thought that crowded-train-unfriendly hippopotamus of a sneaker was going to thrill the trainer fan?

Nike X Undercover Daybreak P3

In fact, Undercover’s Jun Takahashi is not a hypebeast you’d call a trend follower. Just look at everything he has done with Nike for his Gyakusou spin-off brand. Except perhaps the collab with Valentino, there is almost nothing in his arsenal that suggests he is swayed by the most-liked post in Sneaker Freaker. That is, ironically, his burgeoning appeal and possibly why all the Nike X Underground releases are maddeningly limited. Sometimes, brands just don’t love you back.

Second Time Lucky

By Ray Zhang

I have written about my frustration with copping the Nike X Undercover Daybreak. So, truth be told, I gave up. I convinced myself that I do not need another over-hyped sneaker and had, in fact, eyed the Daybreak SP in Ocean Fog/Mountain Blue/Metalic Gold. Then on a Saturday morning, I received a call from a friend. He was in the Nikelab store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, and the “luxury” Daybreak was just released. No one in the store, it seemed, was concerned with the raging protest at the city’s international airport. It was a buying frenzy. Did I want a pair? Should he be scolded for the redundant question?

Nike X Undercover Daybreak P4

When I finally was able to unbox them shoes, they did live up to the rave so madly generated. These are rather special kicks. Even in the tissue that they were nestled in, I could immediately discern that one day in the future, the Nike X Undercover Daybreak will be considered one of the most important releases of the present decade alongside the partnership’s React Element 87. Once in my hands, I was overwhelmed by an elation I have never experienced before. Can a mere pair of sneakers basically hauled back from the past do this to me?

The shoe deserves admiration before the feet are placed in them. The heel clip, as it’s called, is really quite something: who would have thought of drawing attention to the sneaker’s otherwise nondescript back side? Apparently Jun Takahashi had. In fact, it appears that he left most of the shoe in its original form, save the rear. When worn, I thought I was looking down at the Tailwind 79. Walking in them, I felt the steadiness and comfort of the Internationalist. These are kicks I’d be wearing often. Only thing is, as of now, they’re too dear for unthinking wear and tear.

The second drop of Nike X Undercover Daybreak, SGD239, is sold out at the Nikelab corner of DSMS, the only known stockist in Singapore. is reportedly re-stocking. Photos: Chin Boh Kay