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501 Feiyue Icon

501 Feiyue Icon

The Iconic Feiyue 501

Every martial artist or movement artist should try a pair of Feiyue shoes. Feiyue Martial Arts shoes have a simple, durable canvas lace-up top and a padded yet light sole. The tread is perfect for all styles of movement, providing maximum traction for ultimate performance.

The History Of An Icon

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Green Triangle Top One Feiyue
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The Great Leap Forward (Second Five Year Plan) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social campaign led by the Communist Party of China (CPC) from 1958 to 1962. The word “Feiyue” (simplified Chinese: 飞跃; traditional Chinese: 飛躍; pinyinfēi yuè) name translates “to leap” or “to fly over.” The name at the time of creation was resonant with the Great Leap Forward.[10] The translation and slogan for the American-based footwear brand are “Flying Forward.”[2] The Chinese factory has 3,000 employees, with an average of 5,000,000 pairs a year s old in that country, with 36,000 pairs produced per day.[4]

History of Dafu Rubber Co., Ltd .:

Dafu Rubber Co., Ltd. was born as Dafu Rubber Factory in the Republic of China (1931). It was founded by national capitalist Cui Fuzhuang at No. 8 Caojiadu New Street, West Huxi. It produces “Dahu” brand overshoes and running shoes for 30 years. It was renamed “Dafu Renji Rubber Factory” and “Dafu Rubber Factory” successively. In May 1950, with the help of the fundraising department of the Southern Jiangsu Military Region, production was resumed, and it was renamed “Dafu Gongji Rubber Factory”. In July 1953, it was publicly managed and named the local state-owned Dafu Rubber Factory, “One Five” During the expansion period, it was invested by 2 million yuan from the state. It was completed in 1958. The factory site was selected as 207 Zhongshan West Road. There were 2143 employees. The annual production of rubber shoes was 13.38 million pairs. The production scale is leading in the same industry in China. The department was listed as a key rubber shoe manufacturer. In October 1966, it was renamed as Shanghai No. 1 Rubber Shoes Factory. In August 1980, it was changed to Shanghai Tire Factory (partial production of tires from 1974). Shanghai No.1 Rubber Shoes Factory was merged into a group of Shanghai Dafu Rubber General Factory in 1985 and renamed Shanghai Dafu Rubber Co., Ltd.

Overview of Dafu Rubber Co., Ltd .:

Dafu Rubber Co., Ltd. is a state-owned large-scale second-class enterprise under the jurisdiction of the former Shanghai Chemical Industry Bureau. It mainly produces 600,000 sets of tires per year, 13.716 million pairs of rubber shoes per year, of which 5.498 million pairs of rubber shoes are exported each year, and foreign exchange earned is 8.923 million. During the period, the company was rated as a high-quality export enterprise by the Shanghai Municipality and the Ministry of Chemical Industry, an advanced enterprise in Shanghai, an excellent enterprise by the Ministry of Chemical Industry, an advanced enterprise in quality management by the city and the ministry, and the best enterprise in the national chemical industry. The Ministry of Chemical Industry has repeatedly been appraised as a famous brand product and high-quality product. Due to the municipal development plan in 2001, Dafu Rubber Co., Ltd. was relocated, employees were diverted, and all products were transferred to other factories for production. Rubber shoes were produced by Shenglong Company, and the trademark management rights of “Feiyue, Dragon Brand” were returned to Shenglong Shoes Co., Ltd. the company.

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The origin of Feiyue trademark and leap printing track and field shoes:

In the early period of liberation (1950), the Logistics Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army entrusted the Dafu Gongji Rubber Factory to design cloth, rubber shoes with firmness, durability, service, comfort, and cover, specifically for the liberation shoes. Approved and processed for production. At that time, more than 10 million pairs were produced. With the development of the times, the output of military liberation shoes declined year by year. Dafu Rubber Factory began to design and produce civilian liberation shoes in 1958. “Feiyue” produced 161.6 million pairs that year, and the market was very popular. Since 60 years, “Feiyue” and “FEIYUE” have officially appeared on the market. In 1963, the leap-printed track and field shoes were put into production (Leap classic 1-501). Annual sales of 1.92 million pairs.

feiyue 501 shoes

Marks Of An Icon

Feiyue 501 black

Feiyue Top One Green Triangle

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Characteristics of Leaping Track and Field Shoes:

“Feiyue Brand” track and field sports shoes have a narrow waist, a wide forefoot, a curved toe cap and a straight outer scalp on the toe to protect the toes and increase the elasticity of the head. The outsole pattern has strong grip and good anti-skid properties. It has the characteristics necessary for various sports such as running and jumping, emergency stop, and the beautiful design of red, blue strips and pinyin. This product is suitable for general wear and training shoes, especially for martial arts, military training, running and jumping sports. This product has won the honors of city excellent and department excellent several times since it was put into production in 1963, and enjoys a high reputation in the sports industry. (Most Shaolin monks wear leap athletic shoes)

“Feiyue Brand” is an old brand with a history of more than 90 years. With the promotion of domestic retro style, Feiyue shoes have become the new darling of the fashion industry at home and abroad. Shanghai Shenglong Shoes Industry Co., Ltd., which has the management power of “Feiyue” trademark, has inherited a century of inheritance. The classic models are still semi-hand-made to ensure their classic retro element style. The most cost-effective, the “fashionable domestic products” for mass consumption. Shenglong Shoes insists on the design and development of new products, whether it is the upgraded version of the classic model, or the advanced version of the special process, it cooperates with the domestic first-class manufacturers. It is unique in design and even more refined in the production process.

The company takes the pursuit of technological innovation, strengthening product function development as the core, and high-quality and efficient services to ensure the survival and development of the enterprise. Aiming at brand operation and based on good quality, we will continuously improve product quality and contribute to competitive sports and national fitness.

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The Difference 1920 & 501 Feiyue

feiyue dafu 1920 brand

The difference between the 2 is a few features. 1920 design is focused more on the narrow-footed person. 501 is for everyone!

1920 is a more fashionable & rigid style, has a squared-off sole, with a different under-sole, generally, the overall look is a slightly narrower look with a shorter toe cap. More suited for people with narrow-width feet.

501 is your go-to street style, workhorse shoe. It is more flexible than the 1920 and has more give-for-movement players. The width is wider and the sole of the shoe is rounded for freedom to stretch and roll off the sole of the shoe movements.

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The Difference Chinese & French Feiyue


Originated in the Dafu rubber tire factory located in Shanghai, China in the 1920s, Feiyue is famous for its honest price positioning, flexible and lightweight canvas design. It was a go-to sneaker for martial art practitioners before 2006, when the brand reinvented itself as the streetwear brand we know today.

The origin of Feiyue: Product of the dynamic Chinese 1950s

Shanghai Dafu Rubber Factory originally designed Jiefang shoes for the army. With the increasing demand for civilian Jiefang shoes, Dafu Rubber Factory re-designed them to be suitable for ordinary people’s daily work and life. These durable military shoes adapted to fit regular citizens’ lives were named “Feiyue”.

In the first year that Feiyue shoes entered the market, sales reached 1.616 million pairs. However, at this time, “Feiyue Shoes” and “Jiefang Shoes” were just a collective name for shoes, not a brand. Until 1958, Dafu applied to the government for a trademark, and the “Feiyue” trademark was officially registered in China with the trademark number 27551.

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At the peak of the 1980s, the annual output of Dafu Rubber Factory’s shoes reached 13.71 million pairs and the annual export volume was 5.5 million pairs. At one time, Southeast Asia was one of the largest export destinations.

Later, Dafu Rubber Factory began to produce more rubber tire products and hoped that rubber shoe production would move to other companies. So in 1997, it authorized Dabowen to use the trademark until 2013, Dabowen produced Feiyue shoes with the “Top one” trademark.

The classic blue-and-red striped sneaker was a fashion icon in the 1970s and 1980s with over 10 million pairs sold. However, in the 1990s, as consumers started to look into international brands, the brand lost prominence in China and went bankrupt. Liu Wangsheng and his business partner Liu Qinglong took over the Feiyue brand; while around the same time, a French entrepreneur, Patrice Bastian, sensed the potential for the sneaker to go global and bought the rights to sell Feiyue in France in 2016.

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In the 1990s, after China’s sneaker market became saturated with foreign brands, Feiyue’s development slowed. At this time, Patrice Bastian, a Frenchman who was an avid sneaker collector, saw the “little white shoes” worn by the Shaolin monks when he was learning martial arts in Shanghai, and had the idea to bring them back to France, which become the starting point of Feiyue’s global success. With this idea, Patrice Bastian reached out to Dabowen and applied to become an overseas agent of Feiyue. Dabowen orally agreed to his request.

Patrice Bastian, who once worked in a French marketing company and has done event marketing for fashion brands such as LV and Chanel, is an expert in storytelling. He used oriental elements and Shaolin martial arts as his selling points, and sold a pair of Feiyue shoes of 20 yuan from China for more than 50 US dollars in France, kicking off the prelude to Feiyue’s success in the west.

However, it didn’t take long before Dabowen went bankrupt. Soon, Patrice Bastian discovered that Feiyue had not registered an international trademark, so he immediately registered the trademark in Europe with Feiyue’s Pinyin FEIYUE, and invited a local designer to create a French brand and give it a new meaning: Flying Forward.

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Integrating Asian and international culture:

The second step of Feiyue’s global success

The official foreign website of Feiyue certainly leverages the west’s mysterious image of Chinese culture to market the shoes. The site introduces it as a brand literally means “Flying Forward” and “symbolizes the dual elevation of both body and mind”. The website also said that the lightweight shoes “[Feiyue] first hit the streets of Shanghai in the 1920’s famous for its robustness, flexibility, and comfort. Bringing together all walks of life, from workers, and Shaolin Monks to politicians, Feiyue crossed borders and generations to land in France in 2006. The brand’s creative DNA lies in clean, simple, classic, and timeless silhouettes.”

In brand-building, Feiyue not only endowed the brand with the connotation of ancient Chinese culture, which attracted a large number of culture lovers to buy these shoes, but also integrated the popular factors in world culture as we can see in its brand DNA, and combined the connotation of Chinese culture with world culture very well, which become a good selling point for a Chinese brand abroad.

Feiyue leveraged the celebrity effect

After registering the trademark in Europe, Feiyue then started a series of campaigns that followed the pace of digital and social media times. With the help of celebrities, bloggers, and models, the French version of Feiyue instantly became the shining star of foreign fashion circles.

Feiyue has also co-branded with major brands such as Celine and Casio, launching various popular shoes, and further expanding its influence.

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Chinese rising awareness; IP and innovation intelligence

The original Dafu Rubber Factory disintegrated at the beginning of the 21st century. Some employees took over the “Feiyue” trademark and soon registered a new Dafu Rubber Factory to produce them. After the new Dafu Rubber Factory realized that Feiyue had been registered abroad in France and many other foreign countries, it conducted a series of negotiations and appeals but was unsuccessful due to insufficient evidence. As a result, they re-established the Dafu Feiyue brand in China.

At this point, the founder of Culture Matters saw the development opportunity of Feiyue. CM is committed to being a collection store of domestic brands and relaying the relationship between products and Chinese urban culture to foreigners. With this goal in mind, they re-did DaFu Feiyue’s branding and marketing. At the same time, the Chinese shoe brand broke the trend of selling only a single style of Feiyue shoes. CM has helped Feiyue design more shoe types that are more in line with the trend of the times.

CM also began to help Dafu Feiyue launch co-branded shoes. When Disney entered China in 2015, few domestic brands were willing to cooperate with it. CM seized this opportunity to launch a pair of co-branded models between Feiyue and Star Wars.

The sales performance was beyond expectation, “As one of the shoes in this co-branded series, ‘Bai Bing’ is added 10,000 pairs of shoes, and it was sold out after 21 hours after going online”, said Yihui Li, a designer in CM. Although the co-branded shoes with Star Wars were not directly the reason for Feiyue’s success abroad, it was a catalyst for the Chinese shoe brand’s career of co-branding. DaFu Feiyue then collaborated with some Chinese brands which were already famous abroad. For example, Feiyue co-branded with the popular Chinese sauce brand Laoganma, and their co-branded shoes had an exhibition in Paris.

In 2014, Feiyue France was acquired by American footwear company BBC International, and Patrice Bastian exited the company.

The existence of two Feiyues – one in China and the other in France – led to a trademark battle, but it is undeniable that both manufacturers have contributed to the development of the brand. On the one hand, French Feiyue brought international fame and reintroduced Chinese consumers to the sneaker. Bastian improved the quality and design of the sneaker, while putting emphasis on the Chinese heritage of the brand and that the Shaolin monks wear the shoes for martial arts training. In 2008, Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom was seen wearing a pair of Feiyue shoes on the set of the film “New York, I Love You.” The brand also partnered with French fashion house Celine to launch a limited edition high-top sneaker.

On the other hand, Feiyue Dafu kept the original design and improved its brand marketing to target local Chinese consumers. Feiyue Dafu differentiated itself from the French Feiyue by adding the word Dafu on the sole of the shoes. It used the social networking site douban.com to run online stores to approach more consumers. It also collaborated with Disney to launch a Star Wars series in 2015 that opened opportunities to collaborate with international brands such as Pepsi and Marvel in 2016. Feiyue Dafu is also featured in the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. To boost creativity, the Feiyue team has hired more than 10 designers with an average age of 30.

Today, Feiyue is popular in China among Gen Z consumers for its streetwear fashion and the love for retro heritage brands, as well as the older generation consumers who grew up wearing Feiyue. Feiyue Dafu has over 300 distributors and 700 offline retail stores. The trademark split will be an issue in the future global retail development of the brand with a pricing gap between markets and different images and collections.

As a proud “Made in China” sneaker brand with a very attractive price point and good value for money, Feiyue has a bright future in China and it is interesting to see how it will evolve overseas. Feiyue literally means “The Leap”. Symbolizing the dual elevation philosophy of the body and mind.

Culture is the main factor in Feiyue’s global success

The combination of the spirit of China’s Shaolin Temple and international development discovered by Feiyue France shows the importance of cultural connotation in marketing. During a time when international relations are tense, the shoe that is now all the rage among western parkours, martial artists, and fashionistas cannot be separated from its Shaolin monk roots.

What is your take from this story? Who runs a brand; the followers or the brand creators?
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Where To Buy Yours

Remember we are not sponsored by anyone so our opinion is unbiased!

The Feiyue sold in the stores and online in SA; is not so great. The width is very narrow and limits the foot spread for which it is famous. The rubber is way harder, especially from a longtime Feiyue 501 wearer.  I could not believe my luck when I found Wish sold Feiyue from China direct. Just check the fakes though. Do your homework.

The links I have placed are to purchase directly from the Chinese suppliers. Click the links below to get your best options to purchase our very own pair/s.

1. Wish – Use this referral code (cydvmttw ) and get R81 Discount off your order.

2. Baopals online – button links for the official Leap and Dafu stores in the motherland.

3. For reputable buying check icnbuys

4. Check out this  DaFu Hong Kong Store

PS: Use codes and links to get your referral discount. Yes, by referring you you benefit.

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Feel free to let me know of interesting topics to share.


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