This is a long overdue post and after wearing this sneaker for multiple weeks it would be an even more thorough review than what you see in the video. The video is a bit longer than usual because I do talk about all the innovative tech and design that is incorporated in the sneaker. However, you can find that info below too along with more details on what I feel about the comfort and fit after wearing these for a while. So see the below video to watch the unboxing, on-feet and more or read the review first and then go back to the video.
Two seasons ago Kawhi shock the basketball word when he had a remarkable season with the Toronto Raptors, leading them all the way to the NBA finals and winning the finals MVP. He made a huge sneaker move as did all that while wearing New Balance (after leaving Jordan brand) which was monumental for the brand, especially their return to basketball.
During that time, he was wearing the OMN1s which at the time was the only basketball sneaker they had ready and what most of us thought was his signature sneaker. Fast forward a year later, he’s on a new team and he finally got his own signature sneaker. Like Kawhi fashion, this is just called the KAWHI signature but, it is not like any other basketball sneaker as there are a lot of key details and tech that make it special.
So prior to going into detail about the technology used, it is important to mention that some of the striking details on this sneaker is there for performance purposes and not aesthetics. However, for this specific colourway, it is a collaboration between Jolly Rancher, New Balance, and Kawhi. The reason for Jolly Rancher is because it is said to be his favourite type of candy. That’s why there are two colourways of the KAWHI signature, multi (this one), and the blue raspberry while the capsule also released with t-shrits, slides, and 327s. What is interesting is that the booty/top of the tounge features the fun Jolly Rancher characters that spells out Kawhi’s name. This is unique to these sneakers, while other key designs are consistent on other colourways. The difference however, is that the colours used on this sneaker represents the different flavours of the candy.
Some of the consistent features include the number “2” at the forefoot, the tounge features a list of Kawhi’s NBA accomplishments, a massive New Balance TPU sticking out on the heel, a signature on top, a transparent outsole, and this awesome wave looking pattern (which will be discussed later). This specific colourway has a good balance of co branding nonetheless. The sneaker also features a mix of traditional and modern basketball sneaker materials from leather to mesh. Something that Kawhi wanted to incorporate in the design is his signature cornrows so if you see below that little part where you can put your laces in, does serve as a nod to his known hairstyle.
With Kawhi getting the nickname of Cyborg, it is only right that there is a decent amount of tech and innovation that gets incorporated into his signature sneaker. What’s interesting is that there is no difference between the sneakers Kawhi wears and the ones we are able to purchase at retail. But one of the most eye catching details is the circuit/wave type design on the side panels. It is called the “kinetic stitch” and is actually a computer generated/data driven design that allows the fabric to stretch out to perform better.
Another cool tech/performance function found in this sneaker is a a New Balance first, a new full-length performance plate. They designed this specifically for Kawhi with his cutting, jumping and stability in mind. You can see it underneath the translucent outsole that also features a data driven design.
Sizing, Fit, Comfort
When it comes to sizing I recommend going true to size. I will admit it is a bit difficult to put on the sneaker (got a twist and turn a bit) because the top of the tongue is stitched in and does not move. Nonetheless, it is in not difficult to put on and it is not snug but gives just enough space before it becomes snug. I haven’t wore these to hoop as of yet, but I have walked around for quite a bit over the past few weeks and I would say they are not bad when it comes to comfort, and this may be because of the fuel cell (New Balance’s proprietary foam) in the midsole.
Price and Place of Purchase
Now this is the best part! I say this because near the beginning of last year it was almost impossible to purchase a Kawhi Leonard sneaker and when he first broke these out in the bubble, I thought it was going to be impossible to get this collaboration as well. Fortunately enough, when this collaboration dropped on Halloween day I was able to grab a pair a couple hours after the release on the New Balance website for roughly $210 CAD. But wait… it get’s better… for you!
If you are interested in buying a pair of sneakers, and even this specific colourway you have two retail options (might be even less) with multiple sizes and colourways available. You can visit Foot Locker Canada or New Balance Canada, for the other colourway in this collaboration click here, and for an exclusive colourway click here.
Cop or drop? Cop. I can’t wait to wear these on the basketball court but even as a lifestyle sneaker they are solid.
Comfort? Decently Comfortable. The fuel cell tech is there to provide a standard comfort, there are no complaints after wearing it for a full day or when I need to step out during these past few weeks.
Aesthetic? Awesome. From the vibrant colours (which represents the different flavours) hitting the white sneaker is great to look at but I really do like the great mix of cobranding in the collaboration. I also really like how the Kinetic stitch looks as well on all colourways of the KAWHI.
Packaging? The Packaging is pretty solid. It is clear it is a Kawhi signature box with the minimalistic white box with gold hints including his signature and the quote “game speaks for itself” which is very true to him. The packaging paper is also consistent with the KAWHI branding.
Price? Retail is not too high but still can be a bit lower in my opinion. At $210 CAD roughly, it is not a bad price point but I think it might do even better if it was under $200 CAD. Regardless, it is great to pick up the sneaker while you can for retail (or even below retail from the sites mentioned above under place of purchase.
All in all, as thorough and detailed this review and video was, I hope it does give you some insight into what New Balance is delivering when it comes to quality and innovative basketball sneakers. Kawhi may have left Toronto, (and I still think he slightly regrets it), he still is a great player and I am happy he got an awesome first signature sneaker. Please let me know what you think and if you plan on purchasing. What do you think about Kawhi? What do you think about New Balance? Stay tuned to more posts and don’ t forget to subscribe!