adidas x Unity
Pairing the notion of respected inclusivity with performance functionality, sporting powerhouse adidas joins forces with Oakland-based Unity Skateboarding to deliver firm footing in the stance towards gender-neutral skate apparel and non-binary branding. Mirroring movements from the likes of Nike SB and Leo Baker’s Orange Label release from earlier this year and Converse’s upcoming SHAPES collection, this exclusive and all-together monumental collection sets about celebrating uniqueness, identity, sexuality and everything in between.
Born from a desire to enable skaters of all abilities to ‘be themselves and celebrate their differences’, Unity Skateboards pays homage to the warmth of organic relationships through its ode to human connectedness. Founded by artistic creator and LGBT activist Jeffrey Cheung, the journey of Unity Skateboards has been one filled with liberating success and honest transparency. Starting out in Cheung’s old West Oakland yoghurt factory studio where he hand-painted 20 blank pro-model boards for the life-long friends he met when formulating the foundations of the brand’s queer skate crew, Unity Skateboards has since shot to fame with customized “professional human being” illustrative decks being transported across the globe and an exclusive interview with British culture-minded i-D Magazine in 2017 helping to amplify their presence. Not one to shy away from escapist artistry and appreciations for the human body regardless of race, Unity Skateboards nurtures its sense of pride and community by providing gender-neutral, non-binary and trans skaters with the visibility they deserve. Opening their West Oakland ‘Unity Mart’ skate shop in 2017 and home to ‘Unity Press’, their own in-house publication company, Unity Skateboards is an initiative that doesn’t let socio-normative restraints govern its existence, instead opting to promote the free-wielding ethos of enabling multiple cultures to ‘co-exist, for better or worse, together’.
Led by a desire to deliver comfort-minded fittings that don’t constrain to contemporary gender stereotypes, the adidas x Unity release is composed of a handful of skate-specific apparel adorned with Cheung’s legendary artistic creativity, whilst two rehashed adidas footwear staples shine refreshing new light on some of the brand’s most popular profiles to date - the first of which being the legend ink coloured adidas x Unity Coronado. Similar to the newly designed 3MC’s, the Coronado is a simple yet effective profile that delivers streamlined structure when paired with any active skate style. Dark-navy brushed suede and leather uppers deliver an inky vibe whilst the grippy Geoflex tread and abrasion-resistant Adituff toe combines uncompromised grip with all-day impact protection. The vulcanised wrap ensures durability is adhered to at all times, whilst the design’s untamable flex and sense of control makes them a go-to profile for any contemporary skater. Triple-stack side wall perforations swap out the traditional thick-banded stripes, while the relaxed 3-eyelet lacing system across the debossed triple-figure tongue keeps things rebellious yet refined. Custom-stitch ‘Unity’ embroidery can be seen below the padded ankle collar on the exterior-facing side panels, with crisp-white jagged edge heel-brace exposure paying subtle reference to the design’s ‘against-the-norm’ muse. Inside the black-leather collar, inspirational ‘Don’t be afraid of who you are!!’ scripture pairs neatly with the exclusive and custom-designed Unity insoles.
A direct contrast to its dark counterpart, the adidas x Unity Continental Vulc is styled in striking shades of cloud and chalk white with pops of light-blue for added subtlety. A fully vulcanised version of its archived Continental 80 cousin, these ‘80s-inspired skate shoes are innovatively designed to cater to the exact needs of any urbanised lifestyle or skate session. A reinforced toe cap keeps unwanted knocks and scuffs at bay, whilst the shoe’s all-leather composure brings a touch of refined character and resilient structure to the surface. Twin-textured mouldings can be seen across the off-white midsole to ensure exemplary reinforcement, while the vulcanised rubber outsole is styled with traction-minded pivot points and auxetic trims to help make light work of any testing terrain. Contrast deco-stitch detailing can be seen across the smooth leather side-walls beside exterior-facing ‘Unity’ embroidered branding - a pastel-inspired uplift on the original Vulc design. Triple-layer toe box perforations keep the sneaker comfort-orientated, whilst the recessed 7-eyelet lacing system above the box-cut adidas trefoil tab keeps the synthetic Unity Press decorated tongue securely fastened across the arch of the foot. Debossed pastel-blue ankle collar branding remains loyal to tradition, whilst the custom Jeffery Cheung designed insoles add a touch of illustrative character to these game-changing skate shoes.
Utilising their art as a medium for centering conversation, Unity Skateboards continues to lead by example, supporting LGBT projects and global communities as they continue to address the mainstream status quo that surrounds contemporary skateboarding. With similar movements scoped by adidas’ latest gender-neutral Shmoo collection in partnership with professional team-rider Mark Gonzales and their on-going instalments with Pharrell Williams, it’s exciting to see how skate culture continues to evolve for the better, allowing people of all identities to focus purely on the notion of unrestrained boardfeel and the fundamental enjoyment of the sport.
The adidas x Unity collection will be available on Friday 28th August 2020 at 00:00AM (BST).
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