These Were the Best Sneaker Collaborations of the 2010s
From Jeremy Scott x adidas Originals’ winged kicks to sacai’s coveted Nike LDWaffle.
Sneaker collaborations have existed since at least the 1930s, when Converse teamed up with basketball player Chuck Taylor on the eponymous shoe, but there’s no doubt that through the 2010s, collab culture reached its peak. The resurgence of sneaker collaborations in the ’70s focused mainly on athletes but now, musicians, fashion designers, artists, stylists and even influencers have had the chance to shape some of their favorite silhouettes.
The 2010s saw a pivotal shift in sneaker culture – it’s when trainers truly crossed over into both luxury and mainstream appeal. With brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci releasing high-end kicks and it becoming more acceptable to embrace casual footwear in everyday, working life, the sneaker industry has shed its once humble status to become one that’s projected to be a $95.14 billion USD industry by 2025.
Now, as the decade culminates, we’re reflecting on just a handful of important partnerships that helped shaped the last 10 years. From statement-making collabs from the likes of Jeremy Scott and Takashi Murakami to subtle yet stunning renditions on classic silhouettes from Maison Margiela and iconic Parisian concept store colette, there was truly something for every style. It was also a time where, finally, women were included in the conversation more than ever before. From Nike’s “The 1 Reimagined” pack to collaborations by Aleali May, Martine Rose, Serena Williams, Stella McCartney, and more.
We rounded up 10 of the collaborations we thought were the most impactful of the decade – scroll below to see our top picks and let us know your thoughts on the selection in the comments below.
Jeremy Scott x adidas Originals JS Wings 2.0 (2010)
Jeremy Scott is perhaps one of the more offbeat designers that adidas has partnered with over the years. Who can forget the era of plush sneakers with actual teddy bears heads in place of a tongue and fuzzy leopard tails appearing from the heels? Our pick from the numerous notable sneakers he produced with the sportswear giant however has got to be the JS Wings 2.0 – an off-kilter but surprisingly wearable monochrome pair that easily adds a touch of quirk to any look.
Tom Sachs x NikeCraft Mars Yard (2012)
Tom Sachs originally teamed up with Nike back in 2012 for the unique NikeCraft project which formed part of the artist’s “Space Program: Mars” exhibition. Instead of using typical fabrics like leathers and suedes, Sachs opted to experiment with the unexpected, utilizing materials like air bags, mainsails from boats and elements of literal space suits. The result was a truly iconic piece of footwear that was so popular it was re-released with an updated design in 2017. Rumor has it a restock of this silhouette, with potentially further updates may be on the horizon soon.
Maison Martin Margiela x Converse (2013)
Martin Margiela debuted a collaboration with Converse back in 2013 that was one of the most simple yet stunning sneakers we’ve seen. True to the Belgian designer’s minimal aesthetics, the Chuck Taylor and Jack Purcell silhouettes were completely covered in hand-painted white paint, designed to crack with wear and expose the sneaker’s original color and detailing naturally over time.
colette x adidas Originals Stan Smith (2014)
The now-defunct Parisian concept store colette had many collaborations in its lifetime but its partnership with adidas remains a classic. The simple tennis shoe kept its usual white leather upper and opted for accent in colette’s signature shade of blue. The notable color landed on the branded tongue and heel, with colette’s trademark polka dots lining up the midfoot and tongue and the store’s minimal logo appearing on the heel. Rounding out the look is the insole, with colette branding printed throughout.
Takashi Murakami x Vans Slip-On (2015)
As an artist with a very distinct and instantly-recongnizable aesthetic, Takashi Murakami seems like the perfect collaborator for Vans. Using the brand’s versatile Slip-On as a blank canvas, Murakami placed his vibrant, pop culture-inspired work in six different iterations but the most memorable for us was the version with his trademark colorful floral print.
Pharrell Williams x adidas Originals Superstar Supercolor (2015)
A longtime adidas collaborator, Pharrell Williams has been responsible for many sneaker and apparel releases over the years but the standout for us was 2015’s remarkable Supercolor collection. Although straightforward in design – the Superstar silhouette was pretty much unchanged – the pack arrived in a whopping 50 colors, making it perhaps the biggest ever collaborative sneaker release. With the tonal kicks available in every shade of the rainbow and beyond, from burnt orange, teal, pastel lilac and pink to coral, sky blue, there was truly an option for everyone in this collection.
Aleali May x Air Jordan 1 (2017)
LA native Aleali May kicked off her partnership with Nike with a friends and family “Millennial Pink” Air Jordan 6 in 2017 before quickly following up with this glass ceiling-smashing Air Jordan 1. The silhouette, which traditionally skews to a hyper-male audience, was given a personal update by the creative, but importantly, with unisex appeal. The high-top kicks boast a black corduroy upper as a nod to the slippers May’s dad used to wear and the gray terry cloth Swoosh, orange branding and metallic silver panels give the shoe a trend-led touch.
Supreme x COMME des GARÇONS Shirt x Nike Air Force 1 (2018)
This trio have unveiled a few collaborative efforts in recent years but the simple “Split Swoosh” is a pair that stands the test of time. Updating the Air Force 1 in black leather, the design has co-branded text on the heel and a contrasting white midsole with black “AIR” text. Of course, the standout detail is the “Split Swoosh” design which sees the white Swoosh dissected and replaced asymmetrically.
Serena Williams x Off-White™ x Nike “Queen” (2018)
This notable collaboration saw tennis superstar Serena Williams team up with Off-White™ and Nike for a limited-edition collection of footwear and apparel. When it comes to sneakers, three silhouettes got the Virgil Abloh touch – the Blazer Mid, Air Max 97 and NikeCourt Flare 2. Each had tonal details in white and grey, with Off-White™’s distinctive text details appearing throughout in black and pink-purple ombré midsoles on the Blazer Mid and AM97. The NikeCourt Flare 2, however was given a glittery silver panel on the heel and neon “Volt” accents.
sacai x Nike LDWaffle (2019)
Without a doubt one of the most hyped sneaker releases of 2019 was Japanese brand sacai’s take on Nike’s LDWaffle. Initially releasing in two colorways, the innovative, layered sneaker was re-released later in the year in three additional hues. Inspired by the ideal of doubles, the striking shoes plays with material and color to literally multiply details like the Swoosh and tongue. These kicks were an instant sellout and with word spreading about a potential upcoming release in all-black, there may still be a chance to cop next spring if you missed out this year.