Five of Yohji Yamamoto’s Most Influential adidas Y-3 Sneakers
It’s impossible to imagine adidas as it stands today without the influence of Yohji Yamamoto. The revered Japanese designer linked up with the Three Stripes in 2002, fusing the worlds of sport and fashion, introducing an element of the avant-garde into mainstream sneaker culture.
Yohji’s experimental sneakers have become a go-to for haute couture hobbyists, and his unique approach to footwear design has shaped the modern sneaker landscape. So, in honour of Yohji’s career so far, we decided to take a look back at five of his most influential designs released under Y-3.
Y-3 Qasa – 2013
The Qasa is, without question, the most iconic sneaker in Y-3’s history. The model was introduced in 2013 and instantly developed a cult following thanks to its sleek silhouette and supreme comfort. In designing the Qasa, Yohji looked to adidas’ long-forgotten Tubular technology from the early 90s and reinterpreted it in his signature style, embracing classic Japanese influence in the process.
When creating the Qasa, Yohji felt that sneaker design had become stale and wanted to do something completely different to everything else on the market. Today, the Qasa mightn’t look too out of place among silhouettes like the NMD and modern Tubular, but that is all due to the profound influence the Qasa had in shaping contemporary design.
The Qasa remains a favourite among Y-3 enthusiasts and is one of Yohji’s personal favourite designs.
Y-3 PureBOOST – 2014
adidas introduced BOOST to the market with performance in mind. Long before Kanye would turn the UltraBOOST into a streetwear staple and incorporate it into his own signature sneakers, BOOST served a purely practical purpose in the Three Stripes line-up – at least until Yohji got his hands on the revolutionary cushioning!
Yohji introduced BOOST into the fashion world with the Y-3 PureBOOST. The fusion of BOOST and Yohji’s signature style made for the perfect all-day sneaker for the fashion-conscious consumer with money to burn. Yohji reportedly designed the PureBOOST with performance still in mind, but just don’t expect to see too many of these kicking around your local gym.
Y-3 Kubo – 2012
The Kubo is an extremely divisive sneaker. Some love its aggressive avant-garde design, while others consider it the most grotesque sneaker to ever rock the Three Stripes. Personal tastes aside, there is no denying that the Kubo represented a turning point in Yohji’s Y-3 output. With the Kubo, he took the brand into uncharted territory. It was his most outlandish Y-3 design yet at the time, and it thrust Y-3 into the spotlight – for reasons both good and bad.
The Kubo was a deeply personal sneaker for Yohji, as evidenced in its name. Kubo is the name of Yohji’s right-hand man.
Y-3 Stan Zip – 2016
Yohji’s unique approach to shoe design is perhaps best evidenced in his reinterpretation of the classic Stan Smith. The Stan Zip is equal parts familiar, functional and futuristic. Yohji retained the core elements of the Stan Smith while simultaneously managing to make it distinctly his own. He reconstructed the basic silhouette in premium materials, elevated the cut, and added dual zips with detectable lacing, giving the model its name. With the Stan Zip, Yohji shaved 45 years off one of adidas’s most classic sneakers and transformed it into a sneaker made for the modern day.
Y-3 Runner 4D – 2018
To this day, Yohji’s 4D-based runner is still his most technologically advanced. It’s not only his first design to incorporate a 4D sole unit, but it was also one of the first sneakers ever to use the jaw-dropping support system. The model was first shown during Paris Fashion Week and immediately fuelled the thirst for 4D — as if that was even possible! Sadly for Y-3 devotees, the Runner 4D would also prove to be one of the brand’s most limited releases on its debut, with only 200 pairs available worldwide.
Special thanks: Seb Drinkell