It was the winner of the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Vince Carter, that made the then-unknown asymmetrical, bulky, and two-toned AND1 Tai Chi an iconic piece of footwear history.
The AND1 Tai Chi ‘Dunk Contest’ is poised to return as a ComplexCon exclusive. It will release alongside the Tai Chi Knit, an updated build of the classic shoe, and the graphic Tai Chi ‘Mixtape’.
“We decided to bring the red/white Tai Chi back because it’s our most iconic shoe, in an iconic colorway,” AND1 brand manager Dexter Gordon told WearTesters. “Followers of the brand kept asking for the colorway so we just didn’t want to randomly release it. We felt the big stage at ComplexCon was the perfect platform to exclusively launch it. What better way for us to announce our re-introduction into the marketplace!”
However, Carter wasn’t always on the AND1 roster. He began his career in the NBA as a Puma athlete, but he wanted out of that deal — his agent told the nation that the Puma Vinsanity was hurting his feet — and soon, the brand had no choice but to let him out of it.
Once he was a sneaker free agent he couldn’t wear just one brand, and according to Ryan Drew (who spoke with Nick DePaula in 2016), Carter couldn’t wear the same brand in a certain number of consecutive games. That forced him to wear several different brands, including AND1.
According to an oral history of AND1 and Vince Carter written by Nick DePaula, AND1 didn’t even know Carter was going to wear the Tai Chi. “We didn’t even know that he was going to wear that shoe in the Dunk Contest, until he really walked out with them on,” said Ryan Drew. “There was no heads up.” AND1 didn’t have any of its team at the Dunk Contest.
It may have also been the irregular colorblocking of the Tai Chi, designed by Tuan Le, that accentuated Carter’s historic dunks. When he brought the ball between his legs, one leg up the other behind him, you can see the red and white of the Tai Chi so clearly on each foot.
No official pricing information has been announced, but expect the AND1 Tai Chi ‘Dunk Contest’ to release at ComplexCon in very limited numbers on November 3.
Let us know what you think about its return in the comments below. Are you as hyped for two-tone laces as we are?
Images courtesy of AND1