Victory Sportswear might just be the most important new sneaker brand out there, but there’s actually nothing new about them. We had never heard of Victory until we spotted them at this year’s Capsule trade show, but we were immediately taken by the brand’s suede and mesh trainers which look like a cross between something Carl Lewis might’ve worn at the ’84 Olympics and a pair of sneakers you might find at an orthopedic store.
Truthfully though, it wasn’t the look of the shoes that got us excited, but rather the fact that they were made in America. The only other brand making shoes in America right now is New Balance, and just like them, Victory produces their sneakers in New England (NB in Maine, Victory in Massachusetts). In fact, Victory has made its entire collection in its Massachusetts factory since the company was founded in 1980’s. The question is, where has it been this whole time? And how are we not surprised that it was Daiki and the Engineered Garments team that has unearthed them for our collective pleasure.
Victory’s story is atypical for an American sneaker brand. Most of them, from Nike to Vans to K-Swiss, exported their production overseas long ago to keep up with rising demand for their products. For Victory though, global expansion wasn’t the goal. As their competitors grew, they were content to remain small-scale, quietly producing bespoke sneakers for in the know running fans.
Overtime market preferences have shifted though. Whereas customers once could care less about where their sneakers were made as long as they were flashy, many people now not only want to know where their shoes come from, they also prefer a sleeker, more minimalist aesthetic. Ding, ding, ding. The wave had caught up to them, and Victory knew the time was right for a reintroduction. Their understated designs aren’t just eighties inspired, they’re actually from the eighties. Their shoes aren’t just made in America, they’re hand-lasted in America from high-quality rubber and leather. And what’s more they’re available right now at Nepenthes, the exclusive stockist for this first round of trail runners, with more models and colorways sure to come in the near future. Victory indeed.