mastermind JAPAN x adidas ZX 500

  • DESIGNED BY: mastermind JAPAN
  • MADE ON: 06/13
  • ART.NO: G95176
  • FACTORY: PYV/702001

When I think of a running shoe, my mind immediately jumps to the conclusion that it’s probably soaked in a bright, retro colorway with possibly some neon or 3M to enhance its radiance. The type of colorway that would pay compliments to the spring green grass in the morning as the sun shines overhead. The type of colorway that brings life to the neighborhood during that wholehearted jog. The type of colorway that makes the local sneakerheads show their pearly whites on a relaxed Tuesday afternoon. If that’s the type of sneaker you’re looking for then beware of mastermind JAPAN.

The fierce Far East crew took this lighthearted ZX 500 to the depths of hell to coat it in a tar black skin with only bone white reaching out from beneath, creating an undead pair of badass sneakers. They’re the type of sneakers that make the flowers wilt and the sun go cold. The type of sneakers that send chills down your spine as you sprint through the city in darkness. The type of sneaker that gets you envious glares from every man or woman who has a clue about the high fashion side of adidas. If you’re looking for that type of sneaker then lay you’re evil eyes on these.

When mastermind JAPAN (aka MMJ) first collaborated with adidas, it resulted in a Hardland which became some form of a holy grail among sneakerheads. Ironically this holy grail – which would typically give one eternal life – features MMJ’s iconic skull and crossbones, as do all of the new additions to their collaborative catalog. And with the announced closing of mastermind JAPAN, it seems that these newer relics from 2013 will obtain the same infamy as 2010′s Hardland. While I understand the simple decision of choosing the Superstar, Pro Model, Rivalry Hi, and even the Gazelle, they’ve baffled me on their choice of the ZX 500 and Country. They seem like such innocent models and if the silhouette selection was up to me, I wouldn’t have even considered those two. But I guess that’s why I’m not in charge of MMJ, because they completely turned those models around. I could barely recognize the Country after its date with death. And the ZX 500 is a different character altogether.

While you may think it’s as easy as slipping on a black jacket and stamping it with a skull, you’re wrong. There’s fine details which may not even be noticed with the first glance of a naked eye. If you catch a pair of these in between struts, you may be lucky enough to see the trail of blood red that drips across the traction points of the outsole. But if you’re really lucky and get a chance to view these devils up close, you’ll see the unsaturated detailing done by the masterminds behind mastermind.

The first thing that will probably pull you in is the bone-shaped lace lock which matches with the parallel sets of Ghilly lace rings. On it is the writing “mastermind JAPAN”, guarded by their trademark skull and crossbones on either side. Next you’ll probably venture behind the waxed, black laces to find the silver foil tongue tag staring you in the eyes. It follows the standard adidas athlete or celebrity endorsement layout, though instead it’s advocated here by an unnamed dead man. While the tongue looks aesthetically pleasing it’s not exactly soft to the touch, as it seems to be a suede rather than the expected nubuck, although this loss appears to be recovered by the nice leather cushioning in the heel.

If you go back to the outer, you’ll see the logo embossed and printed on top of that same suede in a bone white. And another very small feature ties the whole pack together as well; if you direct your sockets to the space in between the essential leather stripes, you’ll notice what seems to be miniature X’s embossed throughout. In my opinion, they’re referencing the crossbones of MMJ’s logo. They’re a very small but unique touch.

While I can’t imagine such a friendly shoe as to that which comes from the ZX family being reborn with mastermind’s predominantly dark colorway, they’ve pulled it off and created a new holy grail among the ZX’s.

written by Kyle Zemborain

photography by errol

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