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Andrew Wiggins’s Latest Signature Shoe Is Ugly — Is It Intentionally So?

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

Yesterday, a catalog photo of Andrew Wiggins’s new signature Adidas shoe — the “Crazy Explosive PE” — was released on Twitter, and per usual, the internet response was as swift as it was unmerciful.

It was the spiritual sequel to Under Armour’s leather-cell-phone-holster-ass, matinee-special-ass, “gelatin dessert free with purchase”–ass Curry 2 lowtops that we’ve been slow roasting over medium heat for going on two weeks now. The Timberwolves wing’s second swing at a signature shoe with Adidas fared poorly in the court of Classic or Trash. They basically look like what people in the ’80s thought sneakers would look like in the future, except there is no self-lacing feature — though there is a vague Keith Haring influence. Imagine if the Curry 2s went through a bad breakup and hiked up to a secluded cabin to follow a Bob Ross painting tutorial, step by step.

To be fair, catalog photos are generally unflattering; like when the front-facing camera on your phone catches you by surprise. But after staring at these swagless lunar mountaineering boots for five uninterrupted minutes, it was hard not to think that the design was purposefully bad. Somebody somewhere along the line had to know that acute, unyielding derision was coming, which couldn’t be good for business, so maybe it benefited Adidas in some way? Does our pathological need to Get These Jokes Off actually drive sales? Does the final act in this three-part play conclude with an ironic purchase?

I mean, there was the time when some enterprising dude tried to flip a pair of 100 percent authentic Damn Daniel White Vans for $400,000 on eBay a month or so after the internet turned “Damn, Daniel” into a thing. Several other listings popped up around that time in the range of $10,000 to $25,000 — the superpedestrian shoes were suddenly, incredibly, sought after. Direct-to-consumer sales jumped 20 percent, according Business Insider. Online sales spiked 30 percent.

The Damn Daniel effect is likely an exception, but even if the cultural currency from this meme-industrial complex we’ve created doesn’t drive sales, it’s fine. They don’t have to. Even though they’re lampooned online, Steph Curry’s shoes sell out in malls. Even the Ski Lodge 2.5s. In April, Under Armour reported $264 million in first-quarter footwear sales — a 64 percent improvement over the same quarter last year. A lot of that is thanks to Curry’s signature line, which launched in January 2015.

So, to no one’s surprise, all this yell-laughing we do on the internet about the Nursing Home 1s and the DeWalt x Under Armour collabs, while fun, and objectively good, is really just a drop in the bucket. Under Armour is chilling. Adidas is chilling.

It’s also totally possible that these “Crazy Explosives” are just ahead of their time, like Kobe Bryant’s “So Trash They’re Fly” Crazy 8s. After all, if you get the non-PE editions in the all-black colorway and position them just so at the exact beginning of the golden hour, they don’t look horrible.