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Hype-fest: Looking Back at the Nike Killshot 2

Nike Killshot 2 x jCrew

All you need to know about the Nike Killshot 2

The Nike Killshot 2 is as good an example of fashion and sneaker hype volatility as you’ll find anywhere. Whereas the exclusive hot-ticket fashion items we normally speak of are often the stuff of legacy publications and massive style blogs, this is different.

The Nike Killshot 2 appears as a low-key addition to a style trend that really begins to take over around its original release date. Thanks to the cyclical nature of fashion – including footwear – the Killshot 2 quickly becomes a symbol of both on-trend fashion and hype fever.

Now, the shoe is hard to take very seriously when you look at it. In fact, it comes across as relatively mundane when you think about the industry’s current design climate. It’s essentially an alternative to the classic leather squash shoe.

That category consists of bangers and icons such as the adidas Stan Smith and adidas Samba, just to name a few. So, why exactly is this shoe the stuff of release day legend?

Nike Killshot 2 Background

J.Crew x Nike Killshot 2, via J.Crew

Well, let’s think about the context for a second. When the Killshot makes its contemporary debut, it’s 2015 and the low-cut leather shoe is essential. A crisp, White tennis or squash sneaker is more than just a footwear staple: it’s the style item that you need.

As a result, brands participate in a flood of additions to this category. Each release seems to play it relatively safe and stick to the script. From giants like adidas and Nike to the lesser KEDS or Kswiss, it’s all about White leather and clean lines.

J.Crew x Nike Killshot 2, via J.Crew

It’s also important to note that this is a time when footwear consumers are absolutely obsessed with this style of trainer. 2015 was effectively the year when high fashion paid serious attention to the sneaker world.

This brought about a sort of unification of consumer archetypes: the sneakerhead and the fashionista. At the center of it all was the classic White tennis shoe.

When Nike decides to throw its weight around a bit in this new arena, it already possesses quite the catalog. In fact, the Nike Killshot 2 releases originally as a low-key drop back in 2012.

At this point, it’s the same shoe, just in a darker and more aggressive colorway – Black with a robust Gum midsole. The Nike Killshot 2 White colorways really start to take off only once the J.Crew release happens.

The J.Crew Connection

Nike Killshot in a Team Red/ Gum scheme, via Street Connexion

J.Crew’s connection with the Nike Killshot vintage reprisal has a lot to do with a sort of situational necessity. In 2015, the fashion brand is undergoing some financial struggles that seem to be bubbling up steadily.

The business at this point is looking at an issue of resistance – they were woefully behind on a raging consumer market and the brand’s collective stubbornness begins to doom them.

Fortunately for J.Crew, they start 2016 while still maintaining the services of their head of menswear, Frank Muytjens. This is the man who oversees the brand’s initial focus on sneakers and footwear collaborations.

It’s worth noting that J.Crew has a fairly long history in footwear experimentations leading into 2018. In 2010, Muytjens leads a team of designers to bring together the first collaborative J.Crew sneaker release: a rendition of the New Balance 1400.

The idea to bring back the Nike Killshot 2 coincides nicely with this approach but takes it a step further. After all, it’s one thing to work with New Balance or Vans, it’s an entirely different matter to call up the Swoosh.

Muytjens sees something in Nike’s massive collection of retro models. This inspires him to make the Nike Killshot 2 J.Crew’s designated Swoosh retro.

Releasing in 2015, it is met with a surprising rate of approvals from a consumer base that normally doesn’t care about sneaker drops very much. But, it’s not quite a cult classic.

The Nike Killshot 2 makes its leap from fashion accessory to downright hype beast fodder in 2016, when J.Crew brings the shoe out in restrictive numbers and sees it sell out as quickly as four hours after release.

This prompts the brand to restock the Nike Killshot 2 every three months, as it just flies off shelves uncontrollably. When the shoe announces its return earlier this year, it’s met with the same uproarious hype. It’s just as well for J.Crew, who at this point has yet to find its way completely out of its post-Muytjens financial turmoil.

Nike Killshot 2 Review

Nike Killshot 2 Team Red
Nike Killshot in a Team Red/ Gum scheme, via Street Connexion

Now that we know a little bit about where the shoe came from, it’s time to answer the question that had Reddit boards flaming: what’s all the fuss about? The Killshot is, we have to admit, a rather unremarkable sneaker.

Its upper comes with the combination of suede panels and a more rigid classic leather base. This design more resembles what you see on the adidas Samba or some other vintage staple.

Yet, it hardly deserves criticism simply for not being breathtaking. The real appeal of this shoe is how it brings together classic sneaker elements – leather uppers and Gum bottoms – in a way that sees mass appeal.

Now, some of that has to do with market manipulation via restrictive quantities. But, the shoe itself is also a universal classic and stayed at a sun-$100 price point. Even resellers never exceeded $140.

One thing worth noting is the Nike Killshot 2 sizing issue. To be sure, the sneaker’s classic design makes it easy to fit true-to-size. But, the issue is more with the availability of certain sizes.

J.Crew’s sneaker efforts are not known for having a ton of variety when it comes to wider or longer feet. Consumers regularly complain about the brand not stocking nearly enough options for those with slightly bigger feet.

So, the Nike Killshot 2 may not be your best option if you happen to fall into this category. But, even if you can swipe them as a collector’s item, it’s definitely a sneaker history item worth keeping around. If for no other reason, it’ll remind you how historically powerful hype can be.

Sold out almost instantly, the Nike Killshot 2 x J.Crew can still be found at sites like eBay and Flight Club.

nike killshot2 x jcrew

Image Credit: J.Crew

End Clothing US
Cult Edge