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HTS' Sneaker of the Summer, the Nike x Undercover Daybreak, Makes Me Feel Like a Ronin Warrior

Nike x Undercover Daybreak | all photos by Charde Kelly

Nike x Undercover Daybreak | all photos by Charde Kelly


It's crazy how your youth shapes and informs your adult interests and aesthetics. In June I got a pair of the Nike x Undercover Daybreaks. They're a collaboration between the heavyweight sportswear brand in Portland and Japanese designer Jun Takahashi. I love these sneakers. Been digging them since I saw teaser images of them earlier this year. My wife copped a black pair. I have them in blue and likely will be copping another in green soon.

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I've always been into shoes that have a little something extra going on at the heel and/or the Achilles. It's the reason why the Air Jordan 6 is my sleeper favorite from the GOAT's sneaker line. The little accent on the top of the back is everything to me. It makes a sleek sneaker inspired by Michael Jordan's Porsche 911 just a little sexier. It's a touch that's a little past subtle.

The way Takahashi freaked the heels on the Undercover Daybreaks really brings back my childhood and the first Anime cartoon I was truly immersed in: Ronin Warriors. Aside from the classic crew of teens summoning extraordinary powers to fight against evil plot-line that I'd already fallen for through live-action show The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I was enamored with the Warriors’ armor (peep a clip in the video to the right). The colors! The spikes! And look at their boots. They're busy, but not too busy. There's a danger and raciness to them. If they were black and leather I might wear them in real life.

It's no surprise that the cartoon and Takahashi are both Japanese. I find that designers from there have an uncanny ability to create clothing and footwear that you can equally whoop ass and look cool as fuck wearing. The Undercover Daybreaks are aggressive and chill. They have jagged edges on the heel that look like a shark's mouth, but then there's suede between its teeth—a cool juxtaposition of imagery. And they're running shoes, made for movement.

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I’m starting to realize that much of my style is informed by people and things I loved decades ago. Sometimes I want to dress like late ‘80s Michael Jackson (on and off duty). Sometimes I want to look like Spike Lee’s Mookie in Do the Right Thing or one of the G.I. Joe characters. These Nikes take me back to one summer in the ‘90s when my afternoons began with the latest Ronin Warriors episode, immediately followed by me detaching the cardboard tube from my dad’s wire hangers to act like they were swords and pretending to fight monsters with my younger sister.

The Undercovers are still available on Nike’s site. And if you’re looking for spike-free Daybreaks, the 1979 OG versions are there, too. My sneaker of the summer makes me feel like a Ronin Warrior. Fittingly, they come in enough colors for you to pick the one that matches your favorite RW star. As we shift into the fall and close out the year, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have something on your feet that embodies that fighting spirit.

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