September 10, 2013 BY Aaron Kr. / 4
The return of Ewing Athletics last year sent shockwaves all through the sneaker industry. There aren’t very many now-defunct sneaker brands that had as much success during their heyday as Ewing, and there were a lot of nostalgic fans hungry for a present day resurrection. With demand for ’90s basketball retros at an all time high, the timing was perfect for a Ewing rebirth, so when the brand re-launched with some original colorways of the 33 Hi, people came out in droves to grab a pair of classic shoes previously expected to be lost in obscurity forever.
As the brand’s most memorable and recognizable silhouette, the Ewing 33 Hi was a logical starting point for the comeback campaign, but those who go back to the original days of Ewings know that the arsenal of models went much deeper than just that one shoe. The original Ewing run lasted six years and produced a slew of original models, some standing the test of time better than others. The 33 Hi has certified iconic status, but there were more than a few other Ewing designs that held their own at the time and would make for a welcome retro offering in today’s market.
Ewing Athletics went about things the right way with the 33 Hi’s, keeping quantities limited and mostly distributing through respected boutique shops rather than mall chains and corporate franchises. The formula worked and the table was set to follow up with a second model this past summer – the Focus. While not quite the juggernaut that the 33 Hi was, the Focus was still met with a warm reception and was widely considered to be a worthy addition to the Ewing retro line-up. For their third model, things get a bit more familiar with the Guard Mid – a shoe that according to former brands execs actually rivaled the success of the 33 Hi at retail during their original go-around.
Originally released about a year after the 33 Hi, some time in late 1990, the intent of the Guard Mid was pretty self-explanatory thanks to the directness of it’s moniker. It was created as a lower cut alternative to the more “big man” tailored 33 Hi – a more accessible performance option for smaller players looking for quickness and range of motion rather than the extra ankle support. The Guard featured the same sole and midsole as the 33 Hi, but abandoned the beloved strap in favor of a 3/4 ankle cut and re-positioned the trademark “33” logo on the outer heel to give the design some added individuality.
Like the 33 Hi, the Guard stayed in production for almost three years by popular demand, continually moving units with each new batch of colorways. Long before the notion of a “retro” release, these models were regularly produced in new colors and materials each season from 1990-1993 with many versions distributed exclusively in Asia. By 1994, Ewing was moving in a different direction, now focusing on more technical shoe designs, and the 33 Hi and Guard were unthinkably put to rest. After laying dormant for almost 20 years, the 33 Hi has made its long-awaited return, and now it’s time for the equally essential Guard model to rise again.
Next month, the first two Ewing Guard retros will return to retail, both sporting original colorways that stay true to their OG counterparts. Continue reading for your first up-close and personal look at the “Mustard” and “Prince Blue” Knicks editions of the Ewing Guard, as well as a gallery of OG comparison shots featuring the retros alongside some other original Guard colorways that seem a pretty safe bet to be waiting in the wings for the next batch of Guard retros.