Li-Ning Men's Spring 2021

Last Paris Fashion Week, Li-Ning had Jackie Chan in the house, so you can imagine how electric the atmosphere was at its runway show at the Pompidou Center.

It would be hard, if not impossible, to top that online, so the Chinese activewear behemoth decided to cast a backward glance as it marks its 30th year in business. Its fast-paced video opens with the namesake founder, the “Prince of Gymnastics,” living up to his nickname at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, twisting down from the rings and landing as if his feet were magnets and the mat iron. Wow.

The next minute flashes through Li-Ning’s trajectory as an athletic brand for Chinese athletes that in recent years signed up sports giants like Dwyane Wade, muscled its way onto the international radar with shows in Paris and New York, and roped in such collaborators as Stefano Pilati, Neil Barrett and the Danish streetwear brand Soulland.

The spring 2021 collection only gets 30 seconds of footage, but it’s enough to catch the vaguely Eighties mood of oversized warm-up jackets and judo-like pants energized with wave-like shapes.

You also catch a glimpse of three key sneakers, including one futuristic-looking model that brings to mind a Transformer with its gleaming candy-apple-red outer cage. The press materials clarify that it was inspired by one of China’s most famous bridges, the Zhaozhou Qiao. It’s called the Xuan Kong, and it is fierce.

The collection is to be unveiled in full in September during the next Paris Fashion Week, when Li-Ning also plans to host a retrospective cocktail to mark its anniversary.

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