AAPE fans are in for a treat this month, as the Japanese streetwear brand is set to introduce their first original sneakers in just a few weeks. Luckily, we got our hands on a few early pairs to give you a better look at the AAPE+ Potential SS.

Since 2012, AAPE has been making simple, affordable menswear as an offshoot of BAPE for an excited market of young men and women. Using the Moonface logo throughout their branding, AAPE has established a global fanbase of avid followers. In the past, their offerings have included everything from t-shirts and hoodies to compression tights, drink coozies, underwear, and more. Additionally, they’ve worked on a bevy of footwear projects with brands like DC, Fila, K-Swiss, Reebok, and more. However, this year, things are different.

AAPE is ready to introduce its first in-house sneakers later this month. Their first release will include three different silhouettes, the Potential SS and Awakening EX from the AAPE+ Sportswear line, and the Dimension, the mainline silhouette. With this being the first footwear offerings entirely in their control, there are definitely plenty of questions about the new look. Luckily, we got our hands on a few pairs of the AAPE+ Potential SS (short for Shadow Spirit) for an exclusive first look.

Unboxing the Potential SS, my first reaction was how formidable the silhouette feels in hand. The sleek lines and expansive straps were definitely a good clue from the early images, but they don’t do justice to seeing them in person. The Potential’s aesthetics are defined by its two straps, which are used to replace a standard system of lacing. Underneath, a thin layer forms the body and structure of the shoe, knit with extra support around the sole and heels to lock your foot into place. The midsole seamlessly blends two distinct sections together, only separated by the plain white or speckled black color. Finally, numerous AAPE logos are found around the silhouette to complete the look. While all of these elements combine to make the Potential SS a striking shoe in hand, the real question is what they do for your feet.

My first hour or two wearing the AAPE+ Potential SS caught me off guard. Immediately upon slipping into the shoe, I was slightly dissatisfied at how the knit adapted to the shape of my foot. However, it only took a quick few readjustments and tugs on the collar to get it to fall correctly into place, and that made a world of difference. AAPE’s astoundingly thin knit material has been brilliantly designed in conjunction with the strap system. In the forefoot, the knit is fairly loose, allowing you to have almost complete freedom with your toes, an excellent feature especially in close-toed pairs. While the knit is strengthened at the collar for increased support, the adjustable velcro straps crossing the midfoot give you the option to let go and have the knit upper provide support, or batten down the hatches and lock your feet into the plush midsole.

Speaking of which, what an accomplishment. From nearly every angle, the midsole looks precariously thin, so much so that I was afraid of stepping off a curb in the wrong way. But, I was sorely mistaken. After a few minutes of discomfort as my foot adapted to the entirely new shape and feel, I practically forgot I was wearing something other than my usual sneakers. The combination of the straps and midsole shape felt like I was wearing a thin, flexible, yet incredibly supportive bootie, if anything at all.

Overall, I was pretty impressed by the AAPE+ Potential SS. Having worn them all day for a few days, I can say that they wear well, and provide a surprising amount of both support and comfort in any activity. The Potential will be launching in three initial colorways, white, black, and olive green, alongside the Awakening EX, also from the AAPE+ Sportswear line. For more information regarding that silhouette, check out Seth Fowler‘s unboxing video.

AAPE is set to launch its first original sneakers later this month. Both of the sports-inspired silhouettes, the Potential SS ($127) and the Awakening EX ($155) will be available early May 17th-19th during SneakerCon Shanghai followed by a wider release on the 25th. Later, on May 31st, the mainline Dimension ($165) will release on its own. Check out our in hand and on foot images below for a better look at the new silhouettes from AAPE and stay tuned to JustFreshKicks for more sneaker reviews.

Words by Ben Serleth

Previous articleJustFreshKicks Top 5 Sneakers of April that Didn’t Sell Out
Next articleThe Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG in Black & White Will Release in Women’s Sizes Only