Few sneakers of the last decade are as immediately striking as the Sacai x Nike LDV Waffle, a twinned design that twists together retro runners and arrived first in colorways as bold as its branding choices. The shoe is a hybrid at heart, a mixture of the LDV and Waffle silhouettes, which hail from the days when Nike was still mainly a running brand. The reference point is an important one for Sacai designer Chitose Abe, who has a strong preference for vintage Nike.
"We pitched the idea of using different Blue Ribbon Sports models, because we were interested in them at the time," says Nike designer Reba Brammer, referring to her employer by its original name. "We were thinking of bringing those models back and how that would work really well."
To do this, the team creating the shoe paged through old Nike Japan catalogs, stopping at times on vintage runners like the Daybreak and the Moon Racer. Rather than select one shoe, they fused two together by borrowing from the LDV and Waffle. This mixture is inspired by kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pottery by bringing the pieces together with a brilliant gold seam. This has been part of Sacai's DNA from the beginning.
The marriage of the two shoes meant that there had to be room for parts of both on the silhouette. So there are two Swooshes, two soles, and even two sets of laces, a piece that caused a delay in the sneaker's launch in 2019.
Since the shoes arrived, they've been nearly ubiquitous in hype circles. What's more impressive is that they made it there without relying on an established formula. Sacai had Nike collaborations prior to these sneakers, but wasn't a big name in sportswear before this, plus the vintage running approach didn't guarantee a sellout success the way an Air Jordan might. Through all the hype, Abe's work on the shoe, a double and a reflection, remains more than the sum of its parts.
This design breakdown of the Sacai x Nike LDV Waffle draws from Sneaker of the Year, Complex's new book that releases on Oct. 20. In it, we break down the best sneaker from every year from 1985 to now. The book is available for preorder here.