Late last week we officially announced our sneaker collaboration with Japanese performance brand, Mizuno. Together, Mizuno and Highsnobiety have reworked one of the brand’s most timeless silhouettes, the Wave Rider 1.
Originally released in 1998, the classic sneaker is reborn as the Wave Rider Phoenix in military nylon mesh, nubuck, suede, and full grain leather. The iconic Runbird logo, pull tab, mesh, and Wave plate appear in a bold red while other elements feature in various shades of gray. A soft, pastel blue is used sparingly on the underside of the tongue, outsole, and Runbird logo on the toe box. In reference to the shoe’s running history, the upper features a reflective lace keeper and piping, and Highsnobiety branding appears on the tongue, insole, heel counter, and pull tab. All of this sits atop a white EVA midsole.
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Wave Rider 1 has already manifest twice this year. First, as the Wave Rider 1 No Borders, a collaboration with mita sneakers, and then in its original form as the Wave Rider 1 OG. The Wave Rider Phoenix is a salute to the classic silhouette’s ongoing story and timely rebirth.
Hikmet Sugoer (Wave Rider Phoenix designer and Solebox founder)
“The phoenix is used in different cultures as a symbol of infinity because it’s born, it dies, it’s reborn again, and this cycle continues. The Wave Rider 1 was first on the market 20 years ago and over time it’s been forgotten by some, but now it’s time for the shoe’s rebirth.”
The Wave Rider 1 arguably marks one of the most important moments in Mizuno’s history. Following a series of failed attempts at running shoes in the early ‘90s, the Wave Rider saved the brand just as it seemed like they’d run out of ideas and wouldn’t be able to keep up with the competition. “The big boss gave us one last chance. ‘If you can’t do this, we’re going to close the business altogether,’” says Tuan Le, the Lead Designer on the Mizuno Wave project.
The Wave Rider and the Mizuno Wave technology that power it would set the brand on a new course and completely change its trajectory; those closest to the brand describe the silhouette as the truest embodiment of Mizuno’s character. “The Wave Rider 1 embodies the whole Mizuno spirit,” explains Wesley Tyerman, a freelance creative director for Mizuno. “The essence of Mizuno is pretty much in this shoe.”
The core technology behind the Wave Rider 1, the Mizuno Wave plate, consolidated all of Mizuno’s previous designs into one simple and efficient system. Following years of research and development between 1985 and 1993, the breakthrough finally came in 1997 before being introduced to the world in the Wave Rider 1 in 1998. The structure has been reborn time and time again over the last 20 years, upgraded and implemented in Mizuno’s ongoing Wave Rider series, featuring in every one of its successors from 2 to 20.
Mizuno’s collaborations with mita sneakers and now Highsnobiety usher in a new era for the brand. While Mizuno will continue working on performance technology, like it has for over 100 years, the Japanese label is merging its spirit of innovation with style-focused designs fit for the track and the streets. Mizuno has dubbed this new footwear category, Sportstyle.
In launching Sportstyle, Mizuno has also started the Kazoku community initiative. The Kazoku—a Japanese word meaning family—is a collective of like-minded leaders in the sneaker and streetwear game that will receive new and exclusive Mizuno releases and work with the brand on one-off collaborations, like the Mizuno Wave Rider Phoenix. Having worked with athletes at the top of their game for over a century, Mizuno understands the value of expertise and the Kazoku brings together some of the industry’s most well-respected brands and retailers to envision the brand’s future.
The Mizuno x Highsnobiety Wave Rider Phoenix drops April 28 via the Highsnobiety online store and in-store at mita sneakers and Beams, further drops will take place at select retailers from May 12. Stay tuned for all the latest and follow Mizuno on Instagram to keep up to date with future collaborations.
- Producer: Rochelle Bambury
- Photography: Dominik Schulte & Ahmed Chrediy
- Photography Post Production: Manuel Carvalho
- DOP: Viktor Sloth
- Model: Nils Schoof
- Gaffer: David Schmitt
- Production Assistant: Constantin Vider
- Styling: Nina Hollensteiner
- Styling Assistant: Greta tettamanzi
- Hair & Make-up: Susanna Jonas
- Gimbal Operator: Marcus Gelhard