A Brief History of solebox Sneaker Colabs
Upon founding solebox in 2002, brothers Hikmet and Suekret Sugoer quickly established their Berlin-based boutique as one of Europe (and the world’s) premier sneaker retailers. Perhaps it was a case of being in the right place at the right time: solebox began life as an independent and influential entity whose collaborations throughout the 2000s and early 2010s were largely responsible for a retro runner boom that rippled throughout Europe. While they were absorbed into the larger Snipes conglomerate in 2013, the colabs haven’t dried up. Here is a selection of solebox’s sneaker collaborations through the years.
New Balance were at the forefront during the golden era of solebox collaborations. The 1500 was a particular favourite, providing the base for a legendary line of releases that included the ‘Toothpaste’ pack, ‘Purple Devil’, ‘Nazar’, ‘Finals’, and the very rare three-way with Crooked Tongues created for the 2005 Bread & Butter trade show. solebox x NB also reached more underrated models of the time, such as the 670 and 575. Furthermore, the Sugoer brothers routinely flexed a host of one-off personal samples of the ‘GGB’ and ‘Toothpaste’.
It’s natural that a German retailer like solebox would end up creating a couple of colabs with the country’s biggest sportswear export, aka adidas. 2000s highlights include 2009’s on the Consortium-tier Berlin and Rod Laver, which then spawned a fixie-inspired Zeitfrel that competed with a Hypebeast edition. Of course, being the home of EQT means solebox created some of the best Cushion and Guidance colabs ever. There was also the very underrated Torsion Allegra colab in 2012 (as featured on the front cover of Sneaker Freaker Issue 25), then solebox was a face of the BOOST revolution, with Hikmet’s final project for his company, the (at the time) all-new UltraBOOST Uncaged remaining one of the most coveted BOOST colabs ever. Post-Hikmet, solebox and adidas still have a close relationship, having dropped a Torsion ERDC just last year.
The team at solebox were influential in the 2000s and early-2010s for championing running shoe brands with a strong heritage that was yet to be realised by the wider market. ,Saucony was one brand that solebox gave some well-deserved props to, with a Jazz in 2008 that then led to a number of Shadow 5000s like the ‘Pink Devil’ and ‘The Three Brothers’. But it’s not just retro Saucony that solebox have shown love to: they featured the ‘New School’ A3 performance runner in 2009, and later reprised the ‘Pink Devil’ concept for the Shadow 5000 EVR update.
Like Saucony and New Balance, ASICS were another heritage-rich running brand that solebox successfully tapped into. They were on the GEL-Lyte III tip a couple of years before the model really blew up, and their 2008 ‘The Sun’ colab featured innovative treatments like UV-sensitive panels that turned purple in the sun. GL3s would be a frequent colab model, which reappeared as recently as 2019 for a tiger camo effort with atmos. The team at solebox also highlighted other ASICS models like the GEL-Lyte Runner.
An early collaborative partner for solebox was fellow German brand PUMA. The R698 with light up laces was an early success for the Trinomic retro era, many years before Blaze of Glory ‘Champagne Pack’ and some XS 850s in between. While a very fresh Clyde colab in 2007 and suede States efforts in 2013 maintained solebox’s retro roots.
Diadora caught a second wind in the mid 2010s off the resurgence in retro running shoes, and again solebox were a significant proponent in ensuring the Italian brand had its deserved moment in the sun. The N9000, V7000 and IC4000 were the templates for strong colourways in the ‘Ferro’, ‘Azzurro’, and ‘From Seoul to Rio’ respectively.
Always keen for a celebration, solebox have been a part of major Reebok collaborations and milestones, such as the massive Pump 20 and 25 campaigns, plus the Workout 25th anniversary. Not to mention plenty of throwback favourites like the ERS 2000 (which came packaged with an orange-scented air freshener), Classic Leather, and Club C, just to name a few.
Lacoste have had the honour of three solebox collaborations. First was a very rare Tennis 91 that featured towelled uppers – only 30 pairs were releases. Plus two takes of the 10789 moccasin sneaker boot in 2010 that preceded the imminent workwear trend.
Sadly, solebox have never officially had a Nike collaboration. The reason is likely in part due to the fact Hikmet stopped stocking the brand for a few years in the mid-2000s following a, in his words, ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that fell through. In more harmonious times, they put together 16 pairs of a black and gum F&F AF-1 ID to celebrate a store relocation. Hikmet also posted a personal grey and red solebox-branded pair in 2007.