Sneaker collaborations have long existed as a way for brands to cross-pollinate and make special products that hopefully appeal to both parties’ dedicated fanbases. Whether it’s a rapper working with Nike, a sneaker store linking up with New Balance, or a streetwear brand connecting with adidas, they’ve all come together to make better shoes than the brand could by itself. And it’s become a booming business.
Here are a few of our top favourite collabs from the first half of this year.
Concepts x New Balance 997 "New York"
Concepts and New Balance share more than just the home state of Massachusetts; the two also have a number of storied collaborations to their names. To celebrate its 20 year anniversary, Concepts teamed up with New Balance on a baseball-inspired “Rivalry Pack.” The pack focused on teams located in the two cities that Concepts now calls home, Boston (specifically Cambridge) and New York City. While they could have easily gone with the classic blue-and-white Yankee colourway for the “NYC” 997, they went with an eye-catching teal colorway inspired by the Tiffany Medal of Valor. Topped off with a special branded box meant to look like Cracker Jacks, the baseball theme was completed.
Highsnobiety x adidas Ultra Boost
Highsnobiety’s two-shoe adidas collaboration from April represented the best of both the retro and performance worlds with the Campus 80s and Ultra Boost in similar grey colour schemes. It was the Ultra Boost that stole the show, with its heathered Primeknit, leather support cage, and the slightest hint of lavender.
Like so many of 2016’s Ultra Boost collaborations, this one was nearly impossible to cop, and although resale prices are relatively tame right now, this is the sort of sneaker that could skyrocket as pairs begin to dry up.
Just Don x Air Jordan II "Beach"
The second in the Just Don x Jordan collaboration set, this year’s Air Jordan II swapped the original’s all-over vibrant royal for a more subdued cream. As for everything else, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Building on the original’s Italian-made luxury, Don C’s rendition mixed supple lambskin and suede, quilted like a Chanel handbag. A vachetta leather ball and wings logo on the tongue set everything off. With the hat to match.
atmos x Nike Air Max 1 "Safari"
Back in 2002, atmos teamed up with Nike to create the first Air Max collaboration ever—the “Safari” Air Max 1. Over the past 14 years, the “Safari” Air Max 1 has become one of the most sought after Air Max colourways. Subsequently, they fetch a pretty penny, too. Just in time for this year’s Air Max Day, Nike issued a re-release that many Air Max fans have longed for. Regardless of several changes that included swapping out the gum outsole for an icy translucent one and adding a furry suede material to the orange toe cap, the 2016 “Safari” Air Max 1 was embraced.