A Brief History of Bodega's Sneaker Collaborations
Bodega is a household name for sneakerheads, and they're a legacy store that remains a mainstay within the culture. However, it hasn’t always been like that. They were once a hidden gem, and the definition of 'IYKYK'.
Launching in the early 2000s in Boston, and founded by Dan Natola, Jay Gordon and Oliver Mark, the OG sneaker store was hidden behind a bodega, only to be accessed by a secret door. It was a risk, but they let the product speak for itself, and have now garnered all-time legendary status.
Since their inception, they’ve opened two stores, adding another location in Los Angeles. While the history of Bodega is appealing to many, their collaborations are what really cement them into sneaker lore. Over the years, they’ve joined forces countless times with a slew of brands.
Celebrating their 15-year anniversary in 2021, we’re sure a ton of link-ups are on the way. With their recent Vans colab having already hit shelves, plus their sought-after Dunks, we thought it would be a good idea to recap Bodega’s impressive collaborative history.
There’s a lot, so we’re going to keep it brief!
The history of Bodega and Saucony really deserves its own feature. The brands seem inseparable, and have worked together for years. Their inaugural release was 2008's Courageous TRs, featuring three chunky premium leather beauties. This led to Saucony tapping the store to helm their Elite program, which was a new line of kicks that brought back old Saucony models, and were only available at select accounts in Japan! We did an interview with them about it back in 2010, read about it here.
Bodega’s very first collaborative release was with Converse way back in 2007, modelling the Jack Purcell High in the image of a ‘Lumberjack’. Following that, in 2009, they reworked the Converse Poorman Weapon, before a First String Pro Leather Pack in 2012, which featured two luxe pairs (one in all-over pony hair, and another in full leather).
When Nike and Bodega come together, you know that certified heat will be created. It all started in 2011, with a slew of Nike Air Footscape Wovens in the ‘Black Cat Pack’. But, most recently, they tapped into the Dunk hype, reworking the High. It wasn't exactly what you'd expect from the silhouette, with distinctive modifications done in Bodega's unique style.
One of the coolest Bodega collaborations ever was the PUMA Sky Hi II. It was inspired by the black and white comic strip ‘Spy vs Spy’ created by Antonio Prohias. The details were insane, with hidden messages via morse code, cool swing tags, and bullet holes. They also went on to change the name of the shoe from the Sky to the 'Spy', especially for the colab. Peep the interview we did with them way back in ‘07, ,here.
Another brand that Bodega has had a strong relationship with over the years has been Reebok, and we’re hoping the two join forces again this year for some anniversary pairs! The duo's best work probably took place way back in 2008 on the Reebok Omni Pump Lite. Dubbed the ‘Escape Pack’, it saw the sneaker come with literally everything you need to ‘Escape’. It was originally inspired by the independent bus lines that travelled between the Chinatowns of NYC and Boston. Other honourable mentions include the Bodega x Reebok Pump AXT 'Cottonmouths’, Bodega x Reebok Night Sky ‘Nappy Dugouts’, and the recent ‘Shanghai Pack’.
When Bodega joined forces with Lacoste in 2010, they really showed what the French brand was capable of. Reworking the Esteban silhouette, the duo crafted a limited run of earthy toned kicks, with every single one coming with a real rattlesnake key chain.
Once again in 2010, the brands collided when Lacoste enlisted 12 influencing forces in fashion to pay tribute to Rene Lacoste in the form of sneaker colabs for the ‘Lacoste Legends Project’. Bodega was one of them, and hit the Broadwick with a clean navy-brown combo.
The past few years has seen Bodega and Vans add to their impressive catalogue of releases. In 2019, the duo hit us with a surprise drop and, this year, celebrated their anniversary with a rework of the OG Style 36 LX, which was inspired by DIY luxury. Some other impressive hits from the stables have been the 2010 Bodega x Vans Vault Chukka LX ‘Realtree’ and 2013’s ‘Coming to America’ Pack, which borrowed patterns inspired by African fabrics.
When Bodega and New Balance link up, magic is made. Their recent 997S trio from a few years ago sparked insanity among 'heads worldwide. However, the one that started it all was 2013's Bodega x New Balance 577 ‘HYPRCAT’. It was inspired by the first-person-shooter video game Star Fox and rocked sick custom tongue and insole graphics. Other recent hits include their 2018 998 ‘Mass Transit’ and ‘All Terrain’ X-Racer from 2020.
Back in 2014, Bodega and ASICS showed off their ‘Get Wet’ pack using two colourways of the GEL-Lyte 5. As you would expect with a collaboration from the Boston-based retailer, it was packed full of hectic details. Along with a nice rip-stop nylon and GORE-TEX construction, it also came with a USB that was packed with info about the colab.
The next shoe on their hit list was the ASICS GEL-Mai, which was revealed through the cryptic video down below.
This year, we’ve been witnessing the full-speed-ahead comeback of the adidas Forum. A slew of brands have touched the silhouette, but none did it quite like Bodega! The Boston crew did their thing with a highly limited F&F release. Without straying too far from the OG scheme, they opted for smooth suede and subtle ankle branding. A welcome addition were the snakeskin Three Stripes, and epic campaign imagery to go alongside it.