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How Li-Ning wants to conquer the sneakers game

With familiar shapes and details, the Chinese brand looks ready to take the leap

How Li-Ning wants to conquer the sneakers game With familiar shapes and details, the Chinese brand looks ready to take the leap

Li-Ning's is one of those names on everyone's lips even though no one really knows him. Among the most important Chinese brands of the last period, that of former gymnast three times Olympic gold medalist Li Ning has recently returned to the scene with an eight-minute video used during Paris Fashion Week to present his new line of sneakers.

Composed of a series of running, lifestyle and basketball silhouettes, the new Li-Ning collection seems to wink at much more famous models, from Nike to Yeezy in a series of sneakers that recall shoes already seen for shapes and details and others coming soon. In the world of sneakers it is certainly not new, it happens with a certain frequency to see references and quotes from one model to another, often even between different brands that allow themselves to be influenced more or less directly by the competition. Li-Ning's operation actually resembles the desire to democratize a market like that of sneakers, too hostage to trends and hype culture, putting on the market a product that reflects the trend of the moment, while remaining in line with the research philosophy and development of the Chinese brand.

If in 2015 Li-Ning seemed to struggle to get out of a complex economic situation, five years later the situation is decidedly different: not only a growth in the stock market that makes Nike and adidas tremble, but also a reputation that makes it appear as a capable name to get out of Chinese borders and gain the support of the European and American market. With a vocation for the future, with ideas and shapes that seem to speak to the market for the next ten years, the Li-Ning line could be the right one to become the alternative, knowing how to mix shapes and details well known in the world of sneakerheads, giving time the possibility of having a new product on your feet, far and distant from that stagnant world that is the sneaker market.

To succeed, the Chinese brand will necessarily have to get out of the still too territorial dimension that afflicts it, really managing to break into the heart of that public still fond of much more familiar names and logos. A process that, in fact, will pass from design, but also from the ability to know how to fill some gaps that are all too evident. The lack of a hero product is undoubtedly one of these, a name and a silhouette that drive the brand's experimentation and innovation, an AF1 or a Superstar in Li-Ning version that becomes the must-have to start with approach the Chinese brand. Chinese indeed, but that to complete his growth process he will necessarily have to detach himself from his native country, finding shoulders and testimonials in the rest of the world, bewitching well-known names and faces who are driving Li-Ning. Put aside Jackie Chan (omnipresent in the physical shows of the brand) and find someone who knows how to break into the hearts of the public, follow the paths already traveled by Nike and adidas while referring true to their identity.