Warriors for Wokai

From its beginnings as a sought-after status symbol to its current role as the shoe of China’s working class heroes, Warrior’s WB-1 has a long storied past. Here’s your chance to own these icons and assist China’s poor simultaneously!

Update: I'm temporarily out of stock. If you wish to make a donation please go directly to Wokai (thank you).


The Warrior (回力) brand was founded in 1935 when the Shanghai Zhengtai Company expanded its rubber business into the sports footwear market. 回力, translated, refers to the power to overcome difficulties; a fitting name considering the company’s bid to stave off bankruptcy at the time.

WB-1 the Air Jordans of China

Warrior’s flagship model, the WB-1, was introduced in the 1970s becoming a sought after status symbol almost immediately. For those who could afford the Warrior WB-1, its distinctively modern and striking design provided an escape from the dull socialist environment surrounding the people of China. Its popularity continued into the 1990s eventually giving way to Western brands once China’s markets were opened.

“Their looks, their long history and the hard-working people who still wear them. For shoes that have such a precious story and that tell so much about China even now, I felt Warrior didn’t get the recognition they deserve.”
Shumeng Ye

The shoe of the Chinese working class

Losing favor to the Western brands, Warrior shoes then became the shoe of the working class. Cheap and durable, the WB-1 is worn by construction workers, street peddlers and rural citizens. Elementary and middle school students in many regions are also required to wear Warrior shoes as part of their school uniform.

"Book of Warriors"

With the release of Shumeng Ye's "Book of Warriors" last year, the brand became relevant again, this time in the eyes of the West. Her book sold out quickly in Europe and introduced the brand to many Westerners including myself. While her website is no longer live, I hope this project will keep the interest going.


I’m still trying to figure out the best way to make this project as transparent as possible. My books (a Google Spreadsheet) are public and you can always reach me via @dcdomain to address any questions in a public forum (Twitter). Don’t see your order recorded or the numbers don’t add up on the spreadsheet? Just Tweet with the #wb1 hashtag in your message and everyone should be able to view your comment here. In addition, you can check out how I've allocated the funds via the WarriorShoes.org Wokai account. If I mess up or do anything shady the whole world will know, how’s that for putting you at ease?

the Cause

Though China has moved more people out of poverty than any other country in recent decades there are still many more that have been left behind. A pair of WB-1's can be purchased in China for the price of a good meal at a traditional restaurant, yet many are still unable to afford either. According to a recent World Bank report, over 130 million Chinese citizens still consume below the poverty line.

Why Wokai?

Wokai’s microfinance model is more than just charity, it is about empowering the poor in China, enabling individuals to lift themselves out of poverty. Relatives and friends have interned or volunteered for Wokai and their enthusiasm has been infectious so naturally this is my small way of contributing. All profits from each pair of WB-1s will be donated to Wokai. Don't care much for the shoe? You can still contribute to Wokai by donating directly at their site!

Order & Give

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The official size range according to the Warrior Shoes website is Euro 33-49, however, the box states 34-44. Based on conversations I’ve had with market vendors, the fringe sizes are hard to locate so I’ve limited the selection to Euro 34-44.

Size conversion

While conversion charts are available on the web, there are discrepancies between them making them unreliable. The supplied chart is copied directly from the WB-1 shoebox.

Please measure your foot and convert to Euro! Relying on U.S. to Euro conversion is not recommended. I personally downsized, others upsized.

System Sizes
Europe 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
Centimeters 22 22.5 23 23.5 24 24.5 25 25.5 26 26.5 27