The Balmain Unicorn—with that name, you don’t even need to see Olivier Rousteing’s latest sneaker to know it’s rare and unique. But once you do catch a glimpse of this Unicorn, you’ll have to admit it’s not quite like any sneaker that’s come before it.
Drawing on influences like manga and mid-century cigarette boats, Rousteing created a shoe that appears to be in motion even when standing still. With a sharp silhouette and bulbous sole, the Unicorn is aerodynamic and futuristic. The sneaker’s distinctive appearance is no mere design flourish. It rests on a base of solid technical innovations. Those include a shock-absorbing multi-sectional sole that requires eight molds to make, as well as translucent fit bands that thread through the shoe’s central cavity, attaching at each side to matte PPU laces. This system creates an adjustable fit that works on the vertical and horizontal axises of the shoe, allowing wearers to fine tune their sneakers to cradle their feet exactly how they like.
To celebrate the Unicorn’s forthcoming release, Balmain has partnered with animator and digital artist Jeff Cole to create three video NFTs. These Balmain Unicorn x Jeff Cole animated NFT loops will be minted on MINTNFT.COM (Balmain’s Web3 partner) at June’s NFT.NYC conference, where attendees will be able to bid on the rare artworks. Cole’s NFT videos show the Unicorn morphing into an equine shape, as it cycles through black-and-white, gold-and-white, and multi-color tonal mixes, echoing the three colorways that will make up the sneaker’s first drop.
In addition to the Balmain Unicorn x Jeff Cole NFTs, the three winning bidders will also receive special pairs of Unicorn sneakers signed by Olivier Rousteing; invitations for two to experience next September’s Balmain Festival; airdrops of the most recent Balmain Nonfungible Thread NFTs; and technical sketches of the Unicorn signed by Safa Sahin, head of Balmain’s sneaker design team. Don’t sleep. This is one event where sneakers aren’t the rarest items available for purchase.
If you want to get ahead of the game, the Unicorn just dropped on Balmain’s website, where it retails for $1,295.