Nike Kwondo1: Wingtip Wednesday for Sneakerheads
Price: $180 [SOLD OUT; Check eBay for Current Prices]
The Nike Kowndo1 features great materials and a fashion forward design for a less-than-designer price.
The Nike Kwondo1 designer didn’t know when to stop adding, and the comfort isn’t great.
|Materials||Leather / Rubber|
|Weight||766 g / 1 lb 11.1 oz|
|Construction||Cemented / Foxing Tape|
|Country of Origin||China|
I’ll be the first to admit, as someone old enough to remember the hype around the Air Yeezy One dropping, I’m probably not G-Dragon’s target audience. In fact, I can’t say I know much about K-Pop in general. However, while I’m no expert in K-Pop, I do know a little bit about sneakers, and a little bit about wingtips. When Nike announced they were going to be making a combination of the two, I knew I had to pick up a pair. Today we are looking at the Nike Kwondo1.
The Nike Kwondo1 is G-Dragon’s first signature shoe. Taking inspiration from… well, everything. The sneaker has touches of a dance shoe, soccer cleat, dress shoe, skate shoe, bowling shoe, and more. The advertising says it can go from the streets to the red carpet, along with everything in between.
It has to be asked, though. With so many different styles packed into a single shoe, does it work? Should you consider a pair? Let’s dive in and find out.
The upper of the Nike Kwondo1 is almost entirely a shiny slightly off-white leather. Nike describes it as premium and it definitely feels it. At least, as far as Nike sneakers go.
Of course, nobody bought these to be simple white sneakers. Nike used a wingtip design on this sneaker. What makes these a wingtip is the panel around the edge of the toe, with a point in the middle, and the broguing. If you don’t know, broguing are those little circles along the edge of various panels.
In what might be the biggest surprise of 2022, Nike did a great job broguing. It’s fairly normal, even on $400+ dress shoes, for the broguing to have issues. It might be slightly misaligned, or have some holes not entirely punched through, etc. However, on this pair at least, it’s nearly perfect.
Of course, Nike being Nike, the shoe couldn’t come out of the factory without a swoosh on it. The swoosh feels very AF1, which fits in with the all-white look. Nelly would approve.
One area that is a bit more confusing is the false tongue. Pulled from 1970’s soccer cleats, both shoes feature large false tongues on top of the laces. Personally, I’m not a huge fan. Though, they are only held on by the laces and are easy to remove if you don’t like the look.
The only color on the upper is a flower logo on the back, and I’m here for it. It again feels like a special edition AF1.
Inside, the back half of the shoe is lined with a soft leather lining. There is even a suede panel behind your heel to prevent slip. The full-length insole has a sewn in patch – Nike on one side, PEACEMINUSONE on the other.
Mid- and Outsole:
Pictures hide it a little bit, but the midsole on the Nike Kwondo1 is thick. At nearly 2 inches, it gives traditional wing tips with heels a run for their money. Believe it or not, but in person you notice this before the wingtip upper.
This wide midsole is actually really well-done foxing tape. Unlike most shoes made with foxing tape, where it overlaps and is held on by another piece of rubber, here the shoe tape is cut clean. It’d be nearly impossible to notice if you were not looking for it. Again, the care and attention put into getting this shoe to look good is way above a typical Nike.
As with almost every shoe made this way, the white outsole is flat. Or, it is at first glance. It actually features a zig-zag siping similar to a Sperry Boat Shoe. This should help with grip without taking away from the style of the sneaker.
On these parts of the shoes you get a few more references to wingtips. From faux-goodyear welt stitching on the midsole and outsole, to faux nails on the heel, this part of the shoe feels much more focused than the rest.
First, the good. The Nike Kwondo1 is probably the best built Nike sneaker I’ve ever seen. Barring a glue stain or two, the construction is genuinely as good as something from the various Italian sneaker brands. In addition, while the wingtip sneaker isn’t going to be for everyone, I think the shoe does a good job of saying it’s a sneaker first, then adds flair. Nobody will confuse these for the much-maligned sneaker/dress shoe hybrids.
Next, the bad. Someone needs to tell G-Dragon when to stop. There is just too much going on with the sneaker. A wingtip-based sneaker is already way out there. Adding a false tongue, thick midsole, etc. wasn’t needed. Ultimately, these take away from the package as a whole.
How would I wear them? These chunky sneakers need a fashion forward fit. Wide pants, layered upper. Don’t plan on throwing these on for a quick run to Target.
Fit & Comfort:
The Nike Kwondo1 is ultimately based on the Janoski’s last. That last is designed to keep the shoe on your feet while skateboarding. It’s slightly smaller in every direction than most Nike sneakers. That being said, you should still go for your typical Nike size. For me, that is 1 up from Brannock.
The good news is that, while you won’t find a Kwondo1 sitting on shelves, most Janoski’s are GR releases. It should be easy to find a pair sitting in a store like Zumiez.
For a full list of sizing for every shoe reviewed on this website, click here.
In the marketing material says the Nike Kwondo1 has the Pegasus’ comfort, but don’t buy that for a second. Like most sneakers constructed using a hard sole and foxing tape, there is almost no padding in these. Also, while the thick midsole looks like it could be a plush ride – it is as hard as any other skate shoe.
Unfortunately, while the midsole doesn’t provide much padding, it has a lot of weight. I don’t know what is in them, but these weigh nearly 2 pounds each. Walking in these feels like you’re wearing ankle weights. Combined with the extra eight from the midsole, it is not a great experience.
I’m sure you’ll get used to it – and probably build up some great calf muscle along the way – but don’t get these expecting comfort.
Materials & Construction:
I think the materials on the Nike Kwondo1 might be the star of the show. Nike actually used some nice(ish) leather here. There is still a plastic coating on it – non-coated white leather is difficult to make and expensive – but that coating is much thinner than what Nike normally uses. It isn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but it isn’t embarrassing for a nearly $200 sneaker. Something that can’t be said for just about every Jordan release since the shattered backboard 1.0.
Underneath your foot, it feels like someone took a rubber bench block and strapped it to your feet. This is not the soft stuff. I’ve already mentioned the drawbacks in comfort, but on the plus side this should be extremely durable. I honestly don’t know where the failure point on these sneakers will be. The upper is high quality, the outsole is thick, and they appear well made.
The Nike Kwondo1 is made with a combination of cemented construction and foxing tape. That means that the upper is glued to the outsole, and then a piece of rubber tape is wrapped around the bottom of the shoe to hold them together.
This style of construction is known for being affordable, though can be prone to earlier failure if the upper separates from the foxing tape at a flex point, or if the tape wears through at the back. However, on this pair, the upper appears to be very well attached and the tape is very thick. I don’t see that being an issue here for a long time.
Ease of Care:
Like most white sneakers, the Nike Kwondo1 is covered with a thin plastic coating. This makes them much easier to keep clean. Just a little bit of water and a rag will clean off almost anything, and a bit of soap will get almost everything else. Of course, they are white sneakers, so they will never be completely clean once you wear them once.
I know a lot of sneakerheads don’t use shoe trees, but it will be very important for these. That thick sole will start to curl with time. If nothing is done, you’ll find your sneaker has gone banana shaped before too long. A shoe tree – preferably a thick wooden one – will push the sneaker back to its flat shape. Maybe these are more like a real wingtip than you thought!
Pricing & Value:
The Nike Kwondo1 was priced at $180, though the sneaker sold out on release day. This pricing puts them in line with most hyped Nike and Jordan brand releases, which typically land between $170 and $200 retail. The resale on them actually dipped below retail in the days after release, but at time of writing the price has crept up to between $200 and $250, depending on sizing.
With such a unique sneaker, it’s hard to predict what prices will look like over time. They could catch on, or fade into obscurity.
From an objective value standpoint, these actually make a lot of sense.
Not only are the built using higher end materials, but required several new panels, new tooling, new design, and payment to the collaborator. All of these things cost money. A limited-run sneaker that isn’t just a modification of an existing shoe can’t spread that cost out over tens of millions of pairs like a Jordan 1 can. It’s easier to justify a higher price in light of that.
I’d say that the Nike Kwondo1 offers a good value in the sneaker world. At least at the current price.
Overall, I’m have to say I’m impressed with the Nike Kwondo1. The materials are good (for Nike), it isn’t an off-the shelf pair, and the styling is… well, the styling wasn’t cheap to make.
While I strongly believe that someone should have taken the pen away from the designer 3 or 4 style additions earlier than they did, I’m glad this sneaker was made. When you’re trying to push the boundaries of design, it’s sometimes hard to know when to stop. Besides, I’m sure a sneakerhead who is half my age will be able to pull them off.
It isn’t the most comfortable thing out there, but if you like the style I’d consider picking up a pair.
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