Lunar New Year celebrations kick off this Saturday, February 10, with 15 days of festivities — and plenty of specially-themed sneakers — to enjoy. Nike has one of the largest LNY-themed catalogs, though Dr. Martens, Reebok, adidas and PUMA have all made noise in the seven years since the Hypebeast team first rounded-up the best Lunar New Year-inspired kicks to date. Two pairs have stood the test of time and appear on our list once again as we celebrate the Year of the Dragon with 10 of the all-time-best Lunar New Year-themed shoes.
Nike Dunk High “Year of the Pig” (2007)
If its almost entirely pink presentation isn’t enough of a tell, the Nike Dunk High “Year of the Pig” directly nods to its point of inspiration at the right shoe’s lateral heel, where an excited pig is on display. As for the left shoe, it reads “Pig” at the exact location in a style that imitates Chinese characters. Combining leather and suede across its upper, various pink hues complement this on-the-snout take on celebrating the Lunar New Year.
Nike Air Foamposite One “Tianjin” (2015)
Paying homage to the city of Tianjin, a place responsible for much of basketball’s growth in China, 2015’s Nike Air Foamposite One “Tianjin” is juxtaposition at its best. Outfitting the bulky, rugged basketball silhouette with traditional Chinese art wallowed in serenity, there’s no pair quite like this one — making it a grail for any Foamposite collector. Beyond the vividly-colored graphics, a scale pattern serves as a backdrop for both the shell and the eyestays, further emphasizing just how much detail went into this design.
Nike Air Max 98 “Year of the Pig” (2019)
You see something new with each look at 2019’s Nike Air Max 98 “Year of the Pig.” It immediately impacts any onlooker with its many layers clashing in texture, color and aesthetic. Red patent leather overlays and golden linework interrupt the eye-catching artwork that wraps around the upper. Meanwhile, golden brown hairs hang just above the snakeskin mudguard while a marbled jade adorns the tongue, creating a delightful chaos that few sneakers can compare to.
Reebok Club C 85 “Year of the Ox” (2021)
When Reebok prepared the Club C 85 for its Year of the Ox celebration in 2021, it maintained much of the silhouette’s versatility, while offering an arrangement that is clearly on-theme. Its slick leather upper utilizes a tried-and-true formula of black and white, while off-white and gray make up the sole unit, ensuring that it can be easily styled. By introducing a new element to the shoe with its lace cover, attention is naturally drawn to it and the traditional Chinese artwork that stretches across the element.
Air Jordan 1 Low OG “Year of the Ox” (2021)
It’s hard to mess up a sneaker design when its foundation is one of the most legendary looks ever. Building upon the Air Jordan 1 Low OG “Bred,” this special rendition for the Year of the Ox sees many embellishments included across the upper — most notably featuring the horned animal itself. Beyond all of this, red ropes with golden tassels and a red envelope (a true Lunar New Year touch) with a numbered card are included with each pair as a way to tie the theme together.
New Balance 991 “Year of the Ox” (2021)
New Balance has repeatedly proven that it excels at “if you know, you know” looks. Its 2021 Year of the Ox-themed version of the 991 sports various browns that are associated with the animal, with its typical two-tone midsole tapping into a lighter hue — one that is commonly found at the horns of an ox. It’s not until one catches a glimpse of the sockliner that they know for certain that it’s a zodiac-based design. Otherwise, it’s just another tastefully-assembled suede, leather and mesh presentation of the sneaker.
Dr. Martens 1461 “Year of the Tiger” (2022)
63 years after its introduction, Dr. Martens’ 1461 remains the brand’s low-top staple. Countless subcultures have embraced it and it’s often utilized as a canvas to celebrate themes, with 2022 bringing forth a “Year of the Tiger” iteration. Sticking to its signature combination of a black leather upper and a yellow-stitched sole, designs including a tiger have been etched and flocked into the upper. Lunar New Year’s red and gold also appear at the lining and eyelets respectively, with a faux gold tiger tooth charm serving as the cherry on top.
Melting Sadness x adidas Superstar “Year of the Tiger” (2022)
Chinese artist Zhang Quan has ushered in many of adidas’ most eccentric collaborations in recent memory via his label Melting Sadness. When it came time for the duo to celebrate the Year of the Tiger in 2022, its inevitably quirky design did not disappoint. Outfitting the Superstar with tiger stripes across its hairy build, the base shoe embraces the theme, but Quan didn’t stop there. A myriad of unique overlays were prepared for each pair, adding ears via the tongue shroud and a stuffed tail courtesy of the suede-covered wrap.
PUMA MB.02 “Jade” (2023)
Leave it to LaMelo Ball and PUMA to create one of the best jade-inspired sneakers to date. Outfitting Ball’s second signature shoe, the MB.02, a marbled green with a blue tint was spread across the silhouette. Its sparing use of gold ensures that each hit makes an impact, with the tongue and heel branding combined with Ball’s signature wings design at the medial to carry the color. From there, its thematic shoe box is a fitting place to host the slick sneaker.
Nike Air Force 1 Low “喜喜” (2024)
Nike’s Air Force 1 Low is no stranger to celebrating the Lunar New Year — for years, it was the brand’s go-to silhouette to commemorate each year in the zodiac, and is, in fact, the first Nike shoe to ever receive a LNY makeover thanks to 2002’s “Year of the Horse” colorway. However, it’s this year’s unique iteration that reigns supreme as the most regal take on the silhouette that we’ve ever seen. Its golden presentation glistens with its fusion of silk and embroidery, making it more of an art piece than a shoe. Its “Double Happiness” theme is a traditional Chinese ligature that embraces joy and happiness — something that anyone who gets their hand on a pair will likely experience.