Can we get the egg puns out of the way first? Egg-stra details, egg-cellent use of materials. Now that we're not egg-bound when it comes to talking about these designs, we're into this Nike Basketball Easter collection. And yeah, the KD is absent because it turned up hours before we took these pictures, but in this case, it's not the best of the project so we're not mad that Kevin rocked up late. The Kobe 9 EM is destined to play second fiddle to the Flywire variations of this shoe, but the whole painted egg and camouflage hunt concept gives the shoe a welcome spin on a done-to-death theme (once upon a time you could just chuck patent on a shoe and be done with it). Nike have hatched (sorry — couldn't help it) the best ideas on the newly introduced LeBron 11. We wondered what that midsole-free creation would look like when it got its inevitable trim down and Nike opted for something a little more accessible with that full-length Air Max unit (which, presumably, will be more to the big man's liking during the remainder of the season). We think it loses the shoe's unique identity a little and loses the reboot quality of the high variation, but the whole Sunday best and tropical paisley pattern makes these look clean. We know that "clean" is generally shoe speak for boring, but this more conservative treatment of the eleventh LeBron design is decent, confining the wacky stuff to the forefoot swoosh, heel clip and lining. Not bad at all.
We have no idea why these just turned up when they've been drifting around for a minute and we have no idea where their Epirus partner has vanished to, but we mess with this ASICS Gel Lyte III heavily. The III is still an under appreciated creation for its pure approach to performance — it's easy to dwell on the slit tongue fit, but the other little things, like the caged 3M and triple-density sole are breakthrough additions and it's those details that helped make this one a favourite with folks who actually run, rather than wet wiping and stuffing a shoe after wandering to the shops to look at more shoes. The absolute progression of the design as nicely at odds with the Aztec patterning here, giving it an Apocalypto (though we know that film was about Mayans) makeover and a weird mix of olde world fabrics and 1989 tech running. It's as if somebody remade a Gel Lyte as a craft fair. If this one was a collaboration, it would have fanboys tripping, but it's not, so it'll probably lurk for a minute. A decent shoe.
We're a little late to the party when it comes to this Team edition of the Nike LeBron 11, but we need to at least write a few paragraphs on the Elite version of this shoe. We can't help but think that the mission to upgrade this shoe was inhibited by how advanced it looked in the first place. How were you going to make a state-of-the-art looking design look more advanced? With previous instalments like the LeBron 9, we could see what might get switched up, but everything on the original 11 felt expensive. So whereas Elite KDs bless the entire outsole with visible Zoom Air or turn the Kobe into a Flyknit boxing boot from the future, Mr James shoe just gets a little tweak. Still (and shouts to Sneaker News for the heads up), the Lamborghini Egoista inspiration explains the concept car look of this shoe (as well as the wild pricetag) and the key difference is the metallic framework that's covered with 'Remove Before Flight' plastic film (and with the chaotic, angular look of the Egoista based on flight and this shoe made for airborne activity, there's extra parallels). The silhouette is largely the same, despite a lower dip at the ankle, there's a groove cut from the tongue and the toe down view has been tweaked. There's fancy visible elements in the mix too — Hyperposite peeks from the foot arch and there's two panels of visible Zoom Air. Why? Because it looks cool. Having worn them, they feel pretty much the same — snug but true to size, though with their emphasis on stability and protection over shedding grams they actually feel a gram or so heavier (but we haven't put them to the scales yet, so don't quote us). The use of the Heat colours in the Team palette are pretty tasteful, but that patterned outsole is gratuitous. This is a progressive piece of design, but it doesn't make a great shoe greater — instead, it feels like an alternate take from late in the design process and that's no bad thing. Still, we guarantee that there's...
Time to loosen the belt. We've seen a few gastronomic concept collaborations on the footwear front and there's more to come. Seeing as it's a blowout, we may as well get the drinks in too and perennial partners Saucony seem to be getting a little boozy when it comes to the east coast retailers — first it was tequila sunrises in New York's Upper Westside with West NYC and now it's a trip to Philly to get turned up on the Dirty Martinis. We've long gravitated towards the green/black/orange colourway for its trail-shoe looks and MA-1-style tried and tested blend, but Ubiq's olive-inspired take presents it a little differently, holding the polarising fruit of the olive tree up next to the Pantone book to get the colours on point. Based on a cocktail that evokes images of ad men getting loose during a weekday lunch back in the day and sexist secret agents, the Grid 9000 from 1994 is the drinking partner here and it works pretty well. A gum sole, good suedes and off-whites to complement the key colours all maintain focus and, in this collaboration drenched market, these still manage to maintain a class that'll make them shoot out the store on Saturday and cause a few lasting hangovers for anyone that oversleeps.