G-Dragon: First Asian Rapper to Land Deal With Nike

Air Force 1 “Para-Noise”

G-Dragon’s PEACEMINUSONE X Nike Air Force 1 Sneaker Collaboration

This sneaker collaboration stands out for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, G-Dragon makes history as the first Asian rapper to have a sneaker collaboration with Nike. Secondly, the unique and personable design of the shoes makes them one the best collaborations of 2019. Finally, the message behind the shoes of unity through creativity is one that is important in the globalized world today.

Who’s G-Dragon?

G-Dragon rose to fame as a member of the K-Pop group Big Bang. Recently, their immense success both domestically and world-wide has given them the title “kings of K-Pop.” G-Dragon was inspired by hip-hop as a youth after being introduced to the Wu-Tang Clan and has gone on to become one of the most prominent rappers in Asia.

(G-Dragon in the Nike promotional video, via Nike.)

In a Nike News article covering the details of the sneaker, G-Dragon has stated, “Ever since I came across hip-hop as a kid, AF1 has had a meaning greater than just shoes. I couldn’t afford them, so I would always pass the Nike store and admire them with my eyes and heart only. For those who loved hip-hop culture, oversized clothes, hats and matching-coloured AF1s was the uniform.”

Over the years in his career, he has also gotten a lot of attention for his style and has solidified his status as a very influential fashion icon, leading up to the launch of his own fashion brand PEACEMINUSONE in 2016. Following this, in 2019, days after completing his mandatory military service, he hinted at a collaboration with Nike on Instagram. Finally, on Nov 23, the shoe was released and sold out within minutes in South Korea and within hours worldwide.

Shoe Design

The international release of the shoes embodies a black and white colour scheme or colourway with the PEACEMINUSONE daisy logo on the tongue. Additionally, hand-painted black brushstrokes are dragged along the midsole with similar brush smudges on the outsole. Together, all these traits combine to give a feel of unique customization by paint, almost encouraging the wearers to add their own personal touch to the base provided – an inevitable outcome due to the shoe’s unique design.

One unique feature of the shoe is the hidden graffiti styled design underneath the black exterior, which is meant to be shown after the first layer of hand-painted black cover peels off after natural wear and tear. This unique touch amplifies the idea that shoes look better the more they are worn, not when they come fresh from the box. Arguably, evidence of age on a good quality shoe adds to their character and makes them personable as no two shoes will wear out in the same way.

(A look at the sneakers with the hand-painted black cover still intact and the uncovered graffiti design personally created by G-Dragon, by Seunghoon Jeong on Hypebeast.)

South Korean Exclusive

(Via Sneaker News.)

The South Korean exclusive features a red Nike swoosh instead of white.

Friends and Family Edition

(Via @_dr_woo_ on Instagram.)

Among the collection of shoes made are the friends and family edition sneaker. Unique, just as all family ties are. As a result, there are only 88 pairs in existence. The distinguishing feature of this shoe is the yellow swoosh.


Purpose and Cultural Influence

The whole design of the shoe seems to cater to the idea of individual creativity. G-Dragon has spoken in a Nike promotional video that the goal is to encourage the youths that idolize him to find their own voice and tap into their own creativity. Furthermore, on the Nike launch page for the Air Force 1 “Para-Noise,” G-Dragon is “starting with the youth of Seoul, Korea—encouraging them to create and exchange ideas freely. He believes that once the youth are unified through creativity, they can establish the culture that ultimately gives birth to an artistic utopia.”

In South Korea, where the influences of hip-hop are visible and prominent, collaborating with a Korean artist only helps to solidify the hip-hop presence in Korean streetwear. In addition, the success of sales worldwide helps to solidify the presence and influence of Asian hip-hop artists in the global realm. The Air Force 1s “Para-Noise” then symbolizes a type of art that knows no borders.

Reference List:

Nike. (2019, November 21,) G-DRAGON is All For Seoul. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L04JwtimN0. Accessed 2019, December 29.

Nike. (2019, November 23,) Air Force 1 Para-noise. https://www.nike.com/ca/launch/t/air-force-1-para-noise-black/. Accessed 2019, December 29.

Sneaker News. (2019, November 21,) G Dragon Air Force 1 Peaceminusone Unboxing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHNoanNm9W4. Accessed 2019, December 29.

Nike News. (2019, November 3,) The Details Behind G-DRAGON’s Nike Air Force 1 “Para-noise.” https://news.nike.com/footwear/g-dragon-air-force-1-release-details. Accessed 2019, December 29.