When Streetwear and Fashion Collide

16.01.24 General

Sneaker collaborations aren’t anything new. In-fact, they’ve been around for decades and often symbolise the more sought sneakers when it comes to collectors. Most of the time, it signals a coming together between a brand and a fan favourite persona. Other times though, we’ll get occasions whereby two brands come together. This can often bring two different sorts of markets together. If it’s not the latest rapper or athlete who is taking their relevant fields by storm, sportswear brands often or not team up with the giants within streetwear. You only have to look at the Nike Supreme collaborations or Palace with their New Balance efforts of even the likes of Salomon over recent years. 

Sometimes though, polar opposites come together to create a standout moment and usually this involves sportswear brands and high end fashion designers. 

From Gucci and adidas, Converse and Maison Margiela or even Nike and Louis Vuitton. Throughout the years these collaborations have become elusive beasts within the world of sneakers. They have the power to create such a juxtaposition that they can stop the sneaker world in its tracks and creates a sense of excitement. 

With Paris fashion week kicking off this week, we take a look back at some of our favourite collaborations to date…

Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1

When it comes to the Nike Air Force 1, it’s steeped in so much history that we don’t think we need to tell you about its beginnings. Since that debut in 1982 however, the silhouette has often been the base for many special iterations from both Nike themselves and collaborative partners. 

Back in June 2021 though, a collection of Air Force 1’s made their way down a runway at Paris Fashion Week. That show was of course Louis Vuitton. Conceived by the create mind of the late Virgil Abloh who brought the pair together with his close ties to the Swoosh and his Creative Director role he held at Louis Vuitton at the time it was a masterclass of the pairing. A silhouette made for the court but taken by storm on the streets, these pairs were handcrafted with the finest materials in Italy. With a showcasing of 47 different variants and an exhibition for the pairs, only 9 made it to retail and even then, you had to be a special customer to be able to acquire a pair.

Converse x Maison Margiela 

An original within the world of sneakers Converse entered the world of high end fashion collaborations with one of the most illusive and secretive within the game, Maison Margiela. Founded back in 1988 by Belgian designer Martin Margiela and Jenny Meirens, the French luxury brand became known for their use of white paint. Perhaps an odd thing to be known for but since has become synonymous with the brand. When moving into their headquarters the duo collected furniture to furnish the building but wanted a sense of cohesion and decided that every single thing would be painted with white emulsion. 

“There are two reasons for white – one practical, one conceptual”. 

Known for its matte finish and impossible nature to clean, any wear and tear becomes a story telling piece and it was this concept that became the foundation for this coming together. With a Chuck Taylor High and Low receiving the MM treating, both were coated in a thick layer or white paint. With multiple colours hidden underneath the paint, once worn the story telling would start with cracking and peeling to reveal a colour.

Loewe x ON

One of the more recent collaborations, Loewe x ON is one of those duos that just makes perfect sense. Having only been founded in 2010, ON have been taking the sports world by storm. With their modern and frankly eye-catching technology it’s been a brand on the rise. Over the last couple of years, its become a want from brands to collaborate with them and create a juxtaposition of concepts. However, this doesn’t always need to be the case.

This is to be said with their collaboration with Loewe. With JW Andersons Jonathan Anderson now at the helm, this collaboration was a synergy of approaches. Things started out with a colourful array of Cloudventures. Again, fitting in with Loewe’s experimental approach to colours, this caused quite the stir within the fashion world and became an alternative to a designers own take on sneakers. This however was just the beginning. Returning in late ’23, early ’24 the pair developed the CloudTilt which turned out to be a more bespoke offering. This follows in the same footsteps of a rainbow of colours but also introduced the brands latest tech ‘CloudTec Phase’.

Dior x Air Jordan 1 High OG

Prior to Nike and their venture with Louis Vuitton, It was Jordan brand to create a storm within the world of sportswear and high end fashion collaborations. Making its debut back in December 2020 at the Dior Mens Miami show with Kim Jones, the collaboration became known as ‘Air Dior’. It was a symbol of two iconic logos merging and it’s safe to say, the sneaker world went crazy. It was all perfect timing. The Air Jordan 1 high has always been an icon and a must have but over the last few years thanks to an influx of desirable launches, it was a must have. This was always going to be a win win.

Jil Sander x PUMA

These days designer collaborations have cemented their place within the mainstream market, merging high-fashion and sportswear as one entity. However, how did it all begin? Believe it or not, PUMA was the first brand to introduce this concept to the wider market. In 1998, PUMA led the charge partnering with fellow german designer Jil Sander to elevate and rework their already well established PUMA King Football boot – famously worn by footballing legend Pelé. In an interview with I-D magazine Jil Sander mentioned how the shoe is her interpretation of a casual sneaker constructed in a high-class way.

Gucci x adidas

Having first teamed up in 2022, adidas and Gucci are becoming frequent collaborators and in ’23 continued this partnership with another helping of graphical designs. A landmark launch, this collaboration brought two power houses from their own respective sectors together to celebrate design and innovation. Tapping into their archive, the bring together a sense of heritage and prestige to a sportswear focussed offering to capture the minds of both the fashionistas and sneakerhead.

Junya Watanabe x Nike

When you search for Nike’s first collaboration, you get a multitude of answers. Most highlight Michael Jordan as their first, others would say early player PEs or even SMUs such as the 1994 Nike GTS produced for the Seinfeld show. From our strenuous digging through the internet trying to find Nikes first true retailed brand collaboration, we landed on this, the Junya Watanabe x Nike Zoom Haven. Released in 1999, this was the world’s first introduction into what we now know as the modern CDG collaboration. This collaboration not only sold well, but also helped push the Nike Zoom Haven’s popularity within the wider market. 

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