REVIEW: MARTIN LUTHER KING / BLACK HISTORY MONTH SNEAKERS – NEW BALANCE OMN1S +KITH MONDAY PROGRAM “MLK DAY”

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Hey everyone, so for this blog post it is going to very related to the view you see above as I will be doing a sneaker review while also incorporating a brief review of the special KITH Monday Program sweater I am wearing in the video. Definitely watch the video above (don’t forget to like and subscribe) prior to going to the more detailed review below!

Background

What makes this probably my favourite Black History Month sneaker is that it not only ties to Black History, but also a prominent black athlete, Kawhi. It is a sneaker and capsule (“inspire the dream”) that did involve thought and creativity, as it is not only looks great and tells a story, but it is something anyone could wear all year round. It’s also important to know that the OMN1s is the first basketball sneaker from New Balance when the brand returned to the basketball market. You have seen these worn by NBA players such as Dejounte Murray and Darius Bazley, but really was made popular and even at one point speculated to be the signature shoe of Kawhi Leonard.

At the time, this was the only sneaker New Balance had for Kawhi. Fast forward to today where he has his own signature sneaker, which you can read the review for here. But at the time they made a big deal when releasing a new OMN1s colourway with Kawhi either wearing it on court or in a photoshoot. It was often limited and sold out easily, but in the beginning of 2020, New Balance released a special pack to celebrate Black History Month that not only tied to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech but also Kawhi’s highschool. Sure, his highschool was named after MLK, but the words dream and inspire are two words often associated with MLK and the amazing contribution he gave to society, fighting for peace, justice, and equality. It relates to Kawhi in another level because even at Martin Luther King Jr. Highschool he was in a position where he also endured hardships after his dad was tragically murdered. He still continued to work hard and follow his dream which resulted in the position he is in today. You can read more about the story here.

Image credit: Adweek

I liked that New Balance found a way to honour MLK, even if it is subtle because his legacy does have a positive impact on us all and inspired us to do better and be better. That’s what happened with Kith. Ronnie Fieg was dedicated to give back and support more black owned businesses and charities which is why they released a special collaboration for Martin Luther King Jr. Day that featured some clothing and a special film (see here). The clothing was released as part of their Monday program but the best part was that all proceeds went to charity. 50% was allocated to Martin Luther King Jr’s Drum Major Institute while the remainder was equally divided and given to Youth Direct Action Fund (YDAF), March For Our Lives, Do Something, and Alliance for Youth Action. I was disappointed to see that unlike other Monday Program releases these items didn’t see out immediately because it was the same price it was just all proceeds were donated. However, in a way that was good because if you are not familiar with the 11am EST release on Mondays at kith.com you would’ve been able to have gotten this by the end of the day, speaking of there are two sizes left for the crewneck I wore in the video. Fortunately, duties are now prepaid and much less, and I received it within 2 days. The fit feels like a true to size slim fit.

Image Credit: Input Mag

I also want to mention that fast forward to today New Balance has an even strong Black History Month Campain where they did work more directly with their Black associates to create apparel and sneakers that tie into Black Culture while also providing internships to Black students. You can browse the collection here.

Aesthetics and Design

So getting back to the sneakers in relation to Martin Luther King, the two things you would probably notice first is that on each sneaker there is a word in gold that says “inspire” and “dream”. The official title for the collection is called “inspire the dream” but as mentioned in the section prior, the sneaker and these words take significant inspiration from Dr King’s “I had a dream speech”. In terms of the colourway I am not too sure why these specific colours were incorporated and if it was maybe a fresh take on a classic USA colour scheme but it is pretty versatile with it being predominately navy while having a bright scarlett red contrast on the OMN1s logo and laces. and even seen on outsole. Gold is also accented on the logo, the heel New Balance logo, and the pointy things near laces which reminds me of a raptor’s nails/claws. The sockliner/insole is a basic one with nothing special. The other colour you see a lot of is a cement grey across the upper, which is actually there for function and not aesthetics purposes, and it is called the FitWeave. The way it is designed is that it almost feels like sock shoe. After some time it reminded me of the Adidas Tubular Doom but more advanced and comfortable.

Technology

The grey upper for this sneaker is known as FitWeave. At the time it was an innovative type of material that is designed to hold the shape of the shoe while keeping your feet locked in. It helps with the solid herringbone outsole which will work great on court.I believe this is what was the first iteration of what we know see on other New Balance Basketball sneakers, the Kinetic Stitch. The other tech that’s in here is the foam which is called FuelCell. That is made up of nitrogen which air is in. It feels pretty good and is also found in the Kawhi signature and other new NB sneakers, which ties into the sizing and comfort.

Nudie Jeans Co

Sizing and Comfort

When it comes to sizing I highly recommend going true to size. You can expect more of a snug fit thanks to the FitWeave and the way the heel is designed. It has that sockshoe feel to it when you are putting them on but after more wear you do get comfortable in it. I am not sure if the laces will help with the fit but in all honesty, I haven’t adjusted it and they feel fine. It is nothing exceptional but it won’t cause you any pain if you are in these for the majority of the day. There was still some space in the toe area, so if you do have more of a narrow feet you should be able to get away with a size .5 down.

Price and Place of Purchase

I mentioned in the video that I should’ve waited to purchase these. That’s because these eventually did go on sale unlike the OMN1s that released prior. The retail price I got from Footlocker CA was $200 CAD. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any more sizes available for this specific colourway but you can still grab available pairs of the OMN1S high and lows in other colourways at New Balance CA.

Overall

Cop or drop? Cop. It’s a solid Black History Month you can wear all year round, and is something I am curious to try on the court as well.

Comfort? Decently Comfortable, just like the Kawhi signature. Although this sneaker provides me more of a snug feeling, it doesn’t take away from the overall comfort it provides.

Aesthetic? It is solid, unlike my Kawhi signature’s I own these are more subtle and versatile when pairing with different clothes thanks to the sneaker being in predominately navy and grey. However, the red and gold accents, especially the words “inspire” and “dream” give it just the right amount of pop! I do wish they had more stuff about Martin Luther King Jr..

Packaging? The Packaging is a bit disappointing, it is a bright red box which is different but nothing special in terms of this capsule. I liked the we got now cardboard shoe holders, but not enough to notice that the packaging paper is the essentially the standard one you find in other NB sneakers.

Price? With the retail at $200 CAD, it not too high but still something more suitable for $50 less and that’s almost what you can get it for when these do go on sale. However, it’s still a solid sneaker and I heard a lot of good reviews in terms of performance when it comes to the sneaker and it is something I wouldn’t mind wearing more often.

In conclusion, I do enjoy both the sneaker and the sweater, it is awesome to have sneakers that will catch someone’s eyes and start a conversation, which will include Black History Month, which is why it is important. I appreciate how subtle it is and with just two words the shoes really pop, but I do wish there were more to MLK on the shoes or even the box. I like that these sneakers are what was needed for New Balance to take a step further as they invested even more time and effort for the collection with this year’s “My Story Matters” which you can browse here. I do recommend this as a good athleisure sneaker as you can hoop in these or just do your daily errands while wearing a sneaker that ties back into something we should all be informed and remembered of.

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