Year Released: 2016 (Reissue in 2017)
Leave it to JJJJound to get into the sneaker game with a collaboration that nobody saw coming. Then again, that’s exactly what we should have seen coming from JJJJound—not a collaboration with one of the world’s biggest brands, but one with a brand few had heard of.
Victory Sportswear is a relatively new and unknown name within the sneaker landscape. The brand was launched in the late aughts as a commercial off-shoot of Hersey Custom Shoe—a made-to-order sneaker company focusing on targeting specific needs of individual clients, one pair at a time. A handful of premium retailers—the ones you’d expect to be familiar with JJJJound—have carried Victory Sportswear over the years, including New York stalwart Nepenthes. As things stand, Victory focuses on two silhouettes: The Speed and the Classic. All of Victory Sportswear’s shoes—and Hersey’s, for that matter—are produced in Massachusetts. It’s a small operation that sees, “The product pass through [the brand owner’s] hands at least 30 times before it gets boxed.” The Classic is a throwback to Hersey’s heritage silhouette and the timeless design, coupled with the detailed production, apparently captured the imagination of Justin R. Saunders, the man behind JJJJound.
Using the Classic as a canvas, JJJJound worked with grey suede and mesh, adding a tan hit at the heel to create the JJJJound x Victory Sportswear Trail Sneakers—or, as they were affectionately known, the JJJJ Runners. While not quite as hyped as later JJJJound collaborations, the Runners are important within the broader JJJJound story; the Trail Sneaker represent the jumping off point for JJJJound’s involvement in footwear and give a clear indication of how he views sneaker design. In January 2016, a post appeared on
JJJJound’s Instagram page that, in retrospect, was essentially a hint of everything that was to come: There was one Victory Sportswear trainer, a Vans Style 36 LX and a pair of grey New Balance. At the time, nobody knew what the post meant—it was just another photo of tasteful, simple neutral-colored product.
Then, in early June, 2016, JJJJound announced that the collaboration with Victory Sportswear would be released by the end of the month. In July, the studio announced they’re be out in a few more weeks. The shoes finally dropped on August 26th, 2016—two months after the scheduled release. They typified the JJJJound aesthetic; the sneakers were American-made and crafted from quality materials. There weren’t a ton of pairs, which meant that, despite a relatively high price point—$295—the shoes sold out fairly quickly.
All in all, the first JJJJound footwear collaboration was exactly what should have been expected from the design studio. A simple, timeless silhouette with just a tiny bit of nostalgia sprinkled in for good measure—a testament that good design never gets old. For fans of an aesthetic typified by gray suede New Balance
“dad sneakers,” this initial drop with Victory Sportswear was a sign of better things to come.
With 2017s JJJJound x Vans release helped spread the minimalist gospel of JJJJound, late 2017 saw the design studio re-release 2016’s Victory Sportswear collaboration. On the whole, the “Lot 2” collaboration Trail Sneaker itself remained unchanged. What did set the 2017 release apart from the 2016 version was the addition of green laces and an expanded size offering.
They were small changes, but ones that, in the JJJJound aesthetic universe, warranted a new release.