Today’s sneaker collaborations have evolved into partnerships with long-running relationships and multiple releases rather than the one-off drops we’ve been accustomed to. Perhaps something is owed to projects like Rick Owens’ string of successful releases with adidas for maintaining and shaping this trend. As Aimé Leon Dore and New Balance, Kiko Kostadinov and Asics and Sacai and Nike have made clear, it’s consistently-running designer sneaker collabs that are the forefront and future of sneaker culture. Forging yet another multi-release relationship, Nike has once again tapped Cactus Plant Flea Market’s Cynthia Lu to offer her take on another Swoosh silhouette–this time, the Dunk Low.

Like the aforementioned Sacai, Cactus Plant Flea Market is no stranger to Nike collaborations, as Lu’s previous efforts with the Swoosh have been met with great anticipation and acclaim. The partnership began in 2019 with the well-executed, unapologetically Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike VaporMax. From the green piped swoosh to the iconic smiley face logo and thermal map graphic on the insole, the shoe embodied everything that is Cactus Plant Flea Market. The two brands followed this up a few months later with the Blazer Sponge By You, a stripped back Nike Blazer with exposed overstuffed sponge cushioning that buyer’s could customize to their personal tastes with a melange of upper materials and a rainbow of swooshes, eyelets and laces to mix and match. The last installment we received was the Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike Air Force 1, which added Uptempo-style lettering to the classic silhouette and released alongside a capsule “Air Sunshine” apparel collection.

Fast forward a year, and we now have the Cactus Plant Flea Market Dunk Low. Initially teased by both LeBron James (in the NBA 2020 Orlando “bubble” no less) and Kylie Jenner, the sneaker is arriving in two colorways dubbed “Pure Platinum” and “Spiral Sage” and features an upper encrusted in Swarovski crystals. The silhouette has been reworked slightly—the swoosh is enlarged, an element borrowed from Cactus Plant Flea Market’s previous Blazer release, as well as loose lace flaps typically reserved for the Dunk High or Jordan 1 models. In addition, the tongue is stuffed, a certain nod to the major Nike SB Dunk resurgence of late. The pair comes with a green co-branded dust bag and Swarovski smiley logo keychain, and drops alongside a hoodie emblazoned with “Just Do It” in–you guessed it—Swarovski crystals.

It’s tough for us to really get on board with this model upon early inspection. While we would agree with Nike’s description of the crystals’ creating “something like a disco ball” effect, we’re not sure whether that’s something we want on our feet. We appreciate that the offering is available in multiple colorways, but the heavily bedazzled uppers seem to render the hues beneath...well, irrelevant. The sneaker feels very reminiscent of the early-2000s, embodying a Paris Hilton-meets-Neptunes-era Pharrell vibe that dominated the first decade of the new millennium. As that era is the epitome of high-low, good-taste-meets-bad-taste it’s hard not to feel like these sneakers are fairly overdone and tacky. Regardless of how you feel about the aesthetics of an era dominated by Juicy Couture, Ed Hardy and Von Dutch, given that it’s 2020, we’re bound to see this early-2000s aesthetic rear its head again soon.

On the other hand, The Swarovski-wrapped silhouette speaks directly to the DIY ethos of Cactus Plant Flea Market; Lu has created such a vibe around Cactus Plant Flea Market that we could (almost) believe that this is a nod to time-honored tradition of...well, self-bedazzling your clothing in your bedroom. It’s over-the-top and silly, sure—but a modest kind of embellishment that fits into Cactus Plant Flea Market’s homespun image—even in its tackiness. The more subtle touches are also intriguing as Lu clearly pulled from other notable Nike models to update the familiar Dunk Low sneaker.

Are the vibes a little more Juicy Couture than tasteful nostalgia for us? Perhaps. But we won’t totally dismiss this release yet. Certainly, Lu’s relationship with Pharrell and rolodex of famous friends all but guarantee you’ll catch these on your Instagram feed.

Ultimately, we’re expecting a reception similar to the 2019 Supreme x Jordan XIV, which featured a studded upper akin to the spattering of Swarovski on this Dunk Low. The sneaker is bound to sell out in both colorways, and die-hard Cactus Plant Flea Market fans will undoubtedly clamor to get their hands on these. Even still we aren’t predicting the overwhelming mass market demand and litany of street style shots that previous Cactus Plant Flea Market collabs garnered.

Now, we ask you, classic or trash? Let us know in the comments below.

Tags: cpfm, sneakers, nike-dunk, 2000s-fashion, 2000s-style, pharrell, cactus-plant-flea-market, nike