Here’s What Went Down at Paris Fashion Week Men’s AW23
Mon Dieu! The ’fits in Paris were colder than winter in the City of Love this week. From futuristic, 3D-printed models by Reebok, RAINS and Dior to collaborative chaos from ASICS, sacai and Junya Watanabe, there was plenty of teeth-chattering footwear for sneakerheads to get around. Chitose Abe dusted off the Nike Footscape (hooray!), while AURALEE and Bricks & Wood both nailed their latest New Balance collaborations. Of course, there was also much, much more.
Now that the dust has finally settled, it’s time to recap one of the wildest fashion weeks in recent years.
Behold, sneakerheads: the future! 3D-printed footwear continues to gain traction in the sneaker industry, and the machines have been whirring over time in Paris. Utilised by Kim Jones and Dior, the Parisian imprint used the tech to drive their ‘Carlo’ designs into the future, with the dress shoes the best example yet of Dior’s desire to bring 3D-printed shoes to the commercial market. Installing a quicklace system above glossy black leather tongues, the intricate, 3D-printed weave incorporates subtle Dior branding at the heels and underfoot. Currently, we’ve only seen a matte black finish for the shoe (the white pair pictured was simply part of the design process).
Elsewhere, Denmark’s RAINS tapped industry leaders Zellerfeld to produce their very first iteration – the aptly named ‘Puffer Boot’ looking like an object of interstellar fascination. While we’re yet to confirm an official release date, Zellerfeld seems certain that the megalithic silo will ‘inspire more printed shoe designs to go the oversized route in the future.’
Not to be left out, Reebok also plugged in the printers, hooking up with BOTTER for the Venus Comb Murex Shell, a silhouette using HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology. Somewhat similar to the unreleased Yeezy D Rose, the deepsea design actually took cues from Murex seashells – the very same with which Greek Goddess Venus combed her hair.
Hey, if it’s good enough for a Greek Goddess!
Rise of ASICS
If anyone was in any doubt about ASICS’ rise in the footwear industry, Paris AW23 put it to bed.
Not for the faint of heart (or weak at the knees), Brain Dead’s gaudy GEL-Nimbus 9 split sneakerheads right down the middle, with the mind-melting medley of colours simply too much to handle for some (alas, we’ll most certainly be stunting pairs at SF HQ).
Seoul-based fashion label Andersson Bell also got in on the ASICS action, the exclusive GEL-Sonoma 15-50 boasting an adroit blend of fashion and utility. Arriving in a trio of eye-catching colourways, the model was originally conceived as a technical runner optimised for trail running.
Always a centrepiece of their collaborations, Andersson Bell’s storytelling took centre stage. The trio of colourways this time revolved around ‘ASICS World’ – a strange place full of peculiar plants and creatures.
And no one in the City of Love was sleeping on the Awake NY link-up as Angelo Baque’s tribute to The Big Apple landed in Paris.
‘What inspired the first GEL-Kayano 5 360 also inspired the GEL-NYC’, Baque told us for Sneaker Freaker Issue 48. ‘At the end of the day, for me, it’s like, how do I envision a kid from Jackson Heights, Queens, the South Bronx – or even the outskirts of Paris – wearing ASICS? We went back to the essence of where we started with ASICS in 2019. No pun intended, but it was a full 360. It’s essentially a hard-ass shoe that you can wear on the day-to-day. It looks good with a suit and a tracksuit. It’ll look good on a date with your lady. You know what I mean? This is literally going back to the essence of where I started with ASICS.’
Kicking it in Europe? Make sure to pick up our exclusive Awake NY x ASICS cover of Issue 48!
sacai x Nike Footscape
Chitose Abe’s sacai imprint continue to generate big buzz in the streetwear industry. Taking on an ergonomic silhouette originally conceived in the mid-90s, Paris AW23 saw the Japanese masters of collaboration unload a remix of the cult classic Air Footscape.
A distinct break from their previous Nike collaborations (which included sacai’s signature cut-and-paste aesthetic), the new riffs on the Footscape were replete with ACG-like stylings and asymmetrical lacing structures de rigueur for much of the tech-oriented footwear industry today.
A welcome change of pace for sacai, models like the Footscape have long enjoyed cult status in markets like Japan, where there remains a thirst for niche silhouettes.
Legendary designer Junya Watanabe entered collaborative ‘chaos mode’ at AW23, the Comme des Garçons founder revealing partnerships with Palace, The North Face, Carhartt, New Balance and more. Zip-tying futuristic protective gear with contemporary luxury, highlights of the collection included winter nylon puffers and Carhartt windbreakers that emphasised Watanabe’s utilitarian concerns.
In terms of footwear, Watanabe dove in on the partnership between Brain Dead and Oakley, bringing his own distinctive flare to the popular Oakley Factory Team Flesh line. They weren’t the only sneakers gliding down the runway – we also saw some nice New Balance 650s overhauled in murdered-out black suede and on-trend white 1906s with bold black midsoles!
Watanabe-heads rejoice – there was so much heat here it’ll burn a hole in your wallet.
It seemed as if everyone was clamouring to see what the Louis Vuitton team had cooked up for the show. Leading up to the spectacle, rumours spread that there was a superstar special guest, and setting the tone for the AW 2023 collection was Spanish singer Rosalía! An energetic performance brought a lively vibe to the packed-out room, with the artist bringing maximum energy. As expected, the set design was intricate and featured a house-like structure with a number of rooms. The collection was based on the theme of ‘growing up’, with each room representing a different stage in a boy’s life – from the hospital to a 20-year-old’s bedroom.
A major topic of conversation in the fashion space over the past few years is that LV are yet to name a successor to Virgil Abloh. Following his tragic passing in 2021, the late artistic director left a long-lasting impression on the brand. Although for their latest offerings, the house enlisted KidSuper founder Colm Dillane as a guest designer. Dillane’s colourful design DNA was seen through parts of the collection, including jackets with his signature face motif and a full look comprising hand-written letters in the LV team’s mother tongues. The rest of the collection was designed by Louis Vuitton’s Prêt-à-porter Homme team, featuring a mix of tonal palettes, inventive new accessories and an eclectic mix of footwear.
Thanks to collaborations and expertly crafted in-house designs, Louis Vuitton have fast become known for their footwear and sneakers. The past few seasons have seen a swathe of their silhouettes reach major commercial success, namely the 408 Trainer and the Skate Sneaker. For Autumn/Winter, they continued with the skate influences while sprinkling in some subtle GORP references and winter-ready boots. The spotlight was shone upon the ‘Discovery’, which looks like a steel-toed boot with a monk strap, as shown in the video below from the brand’s head footwear designer. The sneaker highlight came through from chunky hiking-style iterations in a wild array of tonal makeups.
Feng Chen Wang
Taking inspiration from traditional Chinese patchwork, Feng Chen Wang’s Paris collection was imbued with a love of family and community. Combining deadstock fabrics with Chinese silk, the show was specifically concerned with the ‘hundred families robe’, a tradition that sees new parents visiting 100 relatives in order to gather materials used in a patchwork robe.
A god-like figure among sneakerheads in the know, Kiko Kostadinov is the quiet fulcrum of ASICS’ rapid rise in recent years. Taking inspiration from iconic womenswear designers, Kiko exhumed the epic designs of Anne-Marie Beretta, Mariuccia Mandelli, Irene Lentz and Sorelle Fontana to inform his collection, turning Paris on its head one last time before the curtains closed on PFW. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch a glimpse of any upcoming ASICS collaborations, but Kiko will be continuing his role at the label throughout 2023.
The sophomore colab launched via a pop-up at Paperboy Paris on January 19.
One of the last shows to deliver their Autumn/Winter presentation was AURALEE, known in the sneakersphere for their New Balance collaborations. Over the years, they’ve co-created silhouettes, including the 550, the 2002R and, more recently, the XC-72. Up next, AURALEE are set to reimagine the 1906 – a model you can expect to enjoy mainstream success in 2023.
For this colab, AURALEE have stuck to their signature pastel colour palettes, creating a lilac iteration and a musky white pair with cream soles.
Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo’s snapped for Autumn/Winter 2023. As the longtime brain behind Comme des Garçons, Rei once again took formalwear to its Avant-guard edges, and the entire show revolved around the concept of deconstruction and reconstruction. Always a major player in the footwear industry year after year, CdG also showed off an upcoming – you guessed it – ASICS collaboration that we’ll no doubt see plenty of imagery of over the coming months.