When discussing Chicago’s sneaker culture, the brand that gets brought up most often is Air Jordan, and with good reason. One relationship that is often glossed over, however, is the city’s connection to K-Swiss.

The K-Swiss Classic was a staple in Chicago in the ’80s. Pairs were worn at underground clubs and house parties while local DJs and producers were whipping up a new genre to get the dance floor poppin, house music. As the years went by, the city continued to innovate in the music space, creating genres that appealed to a younger generation. In comes juke music.

This shift in sound coincided with a shift in style, and wearing K-Swiss actually became frowned upon in some circles. This is best exemplified in the 2005 juke/footwork anthem “K-Swiss” by DJ Rashad (RIP). The song features a repeating vocal line that goes “Ah shit, look at that bitch, that bitch got on K-Swiss.” Girls would get teased for wearing K-Swiss shoes, so it’s easy to see why the brand’s popularity took a turn.

But fashion is cyclical, so what was once hot can and will likely be hot again. As part of its revitalization efforts, K-Swiss looks to Chicago, teaming up with Leaders 1354 (aka LDRS), a renowned sneaker boutique that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

“We’re looking to bring K-Swiss back and legitimize the brand, so you’ve got to really take it back to its heritage and its roots,” says Scott Boulton, Director of Product & Trend at K-Swiss. “Obviously, Chicago was a real hotbed for K-Swiss back in the day. When you’re trying to educate the consumer, the younger consumer that maybe never wore K-Swiss, you’ve really got to come back and tell that legitimate story.”

The LDRS x K-Swiss collection includes two footwear styles, the Classic LX and SI-18. Each come dressed in White, Ethereal Blue, and True Red, the colors of the Chicago flag. The four red stars of the flag are also incorporated into the design of each model. Completing the set is a Golden Bear varsity jacket and hoodies in black and grey.

To celebrate the release, a launch party was held at Leaders on Friday, February 25th. The store was packed with loyal customers that have showed love and support for Diego Ross and crew throughout the years. There were even some special guests in attendance, including Michael Rainey Jr. from Power.

The LDRS x K-Swiss collection is available starting today, February 26th, in-store at Leaders 1354 and online on ldrs1354.com and the K-Swiss website.

Leaders 1354 x K-Swiss Classic LX
Color: White/Ethereal Blue/True Red
Style Code: 07889-151-M
Release Date: February 26, 2022
Price: $90 USD

Leaders 1354 x K-Swiss SI-18 Premier Int’l
Color: White/Ethereal Blue/True Red
Style Code: 07890-151-M
Release Date: February 26, 2022
Price: $135 USD

Leaders 1354 x K-Swiss Golden Bear Varsity Jacket
Release Date: February 26, 2022
Price: $600 USD

Leaders 1354 x K-Swiss Hoodie
Release Date: February 26, 2022
Price: $100 USD

Photos from the in-store launch party:


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