A chef needs passion, enthusiasm, talent, taste, stamina, focus and a great – really great – pair of shoes. Not just regular, durable, everyday footwear; shoes with the support of an orthopaedic mattress and the grip of radial tires. Shoes that will last through the 12-hour days on both hard and slippery floors, but still look good enough to hop around the dining room.
Over the past decade, the footwear industry has shown there is more to simply designing and selling a pair of shoes. You have to collaborate with like-minded creatives to remain relevant. Brands have partnered with everyone the likes of Kanye West and Rihanna, proving everyone can have a piece of the sneaker empire.
American restaurateur, author and television personality David Chang is the latest to team up with Nike SB to release a special Momofuku edition of the Dunk High Pro sneaker. The restaurant group's peach logo is stamped on the heel and on the tongue. Each shoe's inner sole will also reference the addresses of Chang's two East Village restaurants (Ssäm and Fuku) in New York – just in case you get lost. The dark-denim colouring was inspired by the aprons worn by the restaurants' kitchen staff.
David Chang is not the first chef to release a personalised pair of sneakers. In 2016, Vans – in collaboration with Los Angeles chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo – released a six-piece footwear range designed with the professional kitchen in mind. The release, embellished with the colour waves of the Vans Authentic, Classic Slip-On, Old Skool and Sk8-Hi Reissue, was built with dirt-resistant canvas uppers and strengthened with cushioned footbeds. The durable, water-resistant coating allows fluids to simply run off the shoe surface – making them better suited for demanding kitchen settings.
One year later, E.P. & L.P, home to Australian chef Louis Tikaram, launched a limited-edition sneaker collaboration with Australia’s first athletic footwear brand, Volley. The kicks – Volley x E.P. & L.P. – were designed to reflect the two brands and celebrate the Australian way of life, mixing Volley’s heritage and ‘Where Love Lives’ motto. The Volley x E.P. & L.P. shoe is exclusively sold at the restaurant for US$180.
As for Chang's footwear: you can buy them online in 2 hours, or at select Nike retailers this Friday. if you’re in New York, you can grab your own pair at Fuku's First Avenue location tomorrow, June 22.