2002 was the year, and Los Angeles was the place
Undefeated’s first store on La Brea Avenue, with its zen-like ambiance and sleek architectural lines, featured a fountain running through the store, while the sweet scent of Nag Champa lingered in the air. This serene environment was the perfect setting for shoe shopping and sneakerheads lined up for the chance to do so. In 13 years Undefeated has transitioned from a one location shoe shop into a global brand that currently has seven retail locations. In that time they’ve also changed the face of the sneaker market with their exclusive collaborations, launched a successful apparel line, and cultivated a brand evolving around art, music, fashion, and sports.
When Eddie Cruz of Union Los Angeles and James Bond of K-Bond came together to start Undefeated, they focused on fusing the 2 cultures of their existing shops to form Undefeated. Union’s exclusive street wear, merged with K-Bond’s luxury fashion approach cultivated the principles of Undefeated. The partnership brought forth a unique style of shop that did not previously exist in the US Since starting Undefeated, Bond and Cruz have refined and honed their initial vision into the Undefeated of today.
Undefeated has been known to produce some incredible collaboration projects over the years, many with some of the most recognizable companies in the world. Their “5 Strike” logo is as prominent as the collaborative counterpoint on the other side of the X. For their opening day in 2002; they released an all white Nike Dunk High, which sported their logo on the heel. There were 2 versions that came out, 1 with a light grey sole and 1 with a gum sole, and both with low production numbers. At the time, the Dunk’s popularity was through the roof and it was rare to see a shop do a collaboration using that silhouette, and enthusiasts went nuts over this release. Another notable collaboration was the military inspired Air Jordan IV, which was inspired by the classic MA-1 bomber jacket. With only 72 pairs made, the current market value of this shoe is rumored to be above the $20,000 mark. Besides Nike/Jordan, Undefeated has launched projects with Beats by Dre, Adidas, A Bathing Ape, New Balance; and the list goes on and on.
The launch of Undefeated’s apparel line was inspired by their continued growth and success, and the warm critical response that the line got initially quickly gave the brand worldwide exposure. Their apparel primarily focuses on military inspired sportswear. Other influences do seep through the permanent mood board such as their technical line, which focuses on athletic functionality for those with an active lifestyle.
Sure, you can buy sneakers anywhere, but your local mall won’t have the different colorways and limited editions that are stocked on Undefeated’s shelves. They offer a truly unique selection and shopping experience that cannot be found elsewhere. Their merchandise is displayed like art in a gallery and their employees have a depth and breadth of shoe knowledge that would put Google to shame, but beyond the laces and colorful leather, there is a culture present. Undefeated played a major part in the vibrant and thriving sneaker culture we see today, and they will continue to be industry leaders in years to come.
Photos courtesy of V3LLUM and Alvin Barrera.