Footwear

Why Women's Sneaker Collaborations Won 2023

A love letter to the women disrupting the sneaker industry while tapping into the fashion zeitgeist.

3,671 Hypes

Why Women's Sneaker Collaborations Won 2023

A love letter to the women disrupting the sneaker industry while tapping into the fashion zeitgeist.

And just like that, another year of sneakers is done and dusted. While there’s plenty to look back on in 2023, there’s no denying the year will be filed away as one of the best when it comes to women’s sneaker collaborations. It wasn’t hard to notice an uptick of women’s collabs throughout the year, but more importantly, a growing level of representation and creative freedom allowing collaborators to truly shine. Throughout the year, women’s collabs set the pace and stayed well ahead of the curve – particularly when it came to link-ups with some of the most popular fashion brands of the moment.

Whether it was Salomon breaking ground with its very first women’s collaboration or Cecilie Bahnsen proving a lifestyle runner can look even better as a Mary Jane, women’s co-signed sneakers were some of the most sought after releases of the year. Tracing 2023’s top collaborations, there was a red thread that tied them all together: authenticity.

Let’s be real, women’s sneaker collaborations won 2023. Continue reading to find out why.

Climbing the Summit: Sandy Liang x Salomon

Following the blow-up success of last year’s Hysteric Glamour x Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS Gel Lylia, we all waited to see which direction fashion-meets-sneaker collaborations would take in 2023; and it did not disappoint. Kicking off 2023 was Sandy Liang, who officially partnered up with Salomon.

The New York-based label is no stranger to a sneaker collaboration, but in 2023 Sandy Liang executed its most hyped curation so far. Delivering a collection including the Salomon XT-Expanse and RX Moc 3.0, both pairs would go on to sell-out globally – within minutes. Sandy Liang stans were more than aware of how organic this partnership was, given that Liang has sent Salomon XT-6s and RX Mocs down her runways on more than one occasion. Not only that, Liang even incorporated an element of her own interests into the colorway of the XT-Expanse, dressing the uppers in a Pokemon-inspired shade of pink. Claiming the title for the French hiking brand’s very first women’s collaboration, Liang’s Salomons made their mark in more ways than one, priming us for a big year ahead.

Make It a Mary Jane: Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS

Hyper-femininity has been a key aspect of women’s sneakers in 2023 and Cecilie Bahnsen’s ASICS collaborations have guided the way. This year alone, Bahnsen knocked out three collabs including the Gel Quantum 7 and two capsules of Mary Jane takes on the GT-2160, giving each their very own Bahnsen-inspired alter ego. As a brand, Cecilie Bahnsen’s garments are dedicated to celebrating everyday couture and you can see how her ASICS collabs are a direct extension of this. When asked whether transforming the GT-2160 into a Mary Jane style was a no-brainer, Bahnsen shared with us that while, “Collaborating with ASICS and designing sneakers is a very different process than [she is] accustomed to with ready-to-wear collections,” it was a “unanimous decision” to remove the tongues in order to lighten the silhouette.

“The silhouette takes inspiration from classically feminine styles, like the Mary Jane, which is a nod to our romantic design aesthetic. At the start of the design process, we like to think about what and how we would wear our pieces every day. The aim was to create a sneaker that feels light and airy, like our dresses.” In 2023, the Ceclie Bahnsen x ASICS GT-2160s rank among the best women’s sneaker collaborations of 2023 and also one of the most successful collabs of the year, period.

Going With Your Gut: GANNI x New Balance

These days, the mark of a globally successful fashion house is an official sneaker collaboration so, it’s unsurprising that GANNI geared up for another go-around with New Balance in 2023. The team dropped a duo of 1906s alongside a pair of RC30s, in a combination of colorways including white, black and “Blazing Yellow.” Hype for the pairs was already generating once they were first spotted on the brand’s Copenhagen Fashion Week runway, but that was further reignited when the likes of Taylor Swift and Coco Gauff were seen rocking them.

A hue like “Blazing Yellow” was always going to be double-take material and as GANNI creative director Ditte Reffstrup told us, when it came to that color, it was all about going with their gut. “For me, design is not rocket science – it’s about gut feeling and instinct,” Reffstrup said. “That bright yellow just felt so right at the time. I think many brands do a more muted color palette well, but GANNI is all about brightness, contrast and fun – which is perfectly symbolized through the choice of the bright yellow shoe. Luckily, it just clicked with our community, too.”

“Shox” Treatment: Martine Rose x Nike

Judge a book by its cover and you’ll miss the story. That’s a mistake many made upon the unveiling of the Martine Rose x Nike Shox MR4. Categorized by some as a “divisive shoe,” it was the perfect “Shox” treatment the industry needed to spark things up again. First debuting at the designer’s Spring/Summer 2023 show in London, it was their underlying storytelling, alongside their avante-garde reimagining that makes them one of the most formative sneakers of the modern women’s sneaker era.

At the time of the initial release, Rose stated that a big focus for the design was to reimagine the boundaries of pre-match attire in football and to level the playing field between what men and women are offered. Breathing more life into the freshly constructed silhouette, in 2023 Rose dropped another batch of Shox, this time inspired by ’90s goalkeeper jerseys. Highlighting the inspiration from the latest pairs, Rose told Hypebeast, “I really wanted it to feel like a collaboration between London and Italy in the broadest sense. One thing that ties the U.K. and Italy together is music and dance music’s culture and the other is sport.”

A Silver Lining: Wales Bonner x adidas

Nothing gets a sneaker enthusiast’s heart rate pumping like a Wales Bonner x adidas release. With each gaining year, Wales Bonner drops are met with even more anticipation than the last – and 2023 was no different. While color trends tend to come and go, in 2023 silver outlived its microtrend predictions to become one of the most worn colors of the year. Unironically, Wales Bonner struck gold when they dropped the “Silver” Samba with adidas, ensuring that they were not just a brand at the forefront of sneaker conversations, but that they officially earned the title for Shoe of the Year. Adorned with signature Wales Bonner lace, the “Silver” Samba was a masterclass in celebrating brand integrity while tapping into the fashion zeitgeist.

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