Strap In: Mary Jane Sneakers

comme des garcon salomon mary jane sneaker

Originally known as the ‘bar' shoe thanks to its strap functionality, the Mary Jane silhouette name was coined in 1904 by the Brown Shoe Company, located in Missouri. The name was an homage to a cartoon character known as Buster Brown and his love interest Mary Jane who wore the ‘bar shoe’. And really, the rest is history. The Mary Jane has long been a part of footwear and the sneaker world, but in recent years, has really picked up momentum in the latter, and dare it be said: hype. The Mary Jane has manifested itself in many different ways in sneakers, from the Nike Air Rift to the Comme Des Garçons x Salomon RX 3.0 and more. It’s time to strap in and go through some of the best Mary Jane style sneakers.

nike air rift kenya og

Nike Air Rift

Despite the Nike Air Rift having hit its quarter-century milestone, the silhouette is still considered one of the most jarring pairs in sneaker existence. And although much of the focus on the Air Rift might be on its split-toe design, it’s technically a Mary Jane too. Originally released in 1995, the Nike Air Rift name references the Great Rift Valley that runs through Kenya. Bearing the famous split-toe, the Air Rift was not the first footwear to do so, with its origins being traced back to Martin Margiela’s work and even further back to 15th century Japan. Today the Air Rift lives on, with the silhouette finding a place in the Swoosh’s regular offering in 2023. Considering Nike have also just retroed the OG ‘Kenya’ colourway, it’s the perfect time to get into the Air Rift game.

comme des garcon salomon rx mary jane
via dover street market

Comme Des Garçons x Salomon RX 3.0,

The Comme Des Garçons x Salomon RX Moc released in 2021 and was a Mary Jane-ified version of Salomon’s RX Moc 3.0 slide. Inarguably ahead of the Mary Jane sneaker trend of 2022-23, CDG x Salomon curated two monochromatic renditions of their collaboration in triple white and triple black. Originally sent down Comme Des Garçons’ SS21 runways, given their luxury crossover, the CDG x Salomon RX 3.0 was only available at a select list of retailers and was also priced slightly higher than the GR RX Moc 3.0 – but worth every dollar extra.

Hysteric Glamour x Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Quantum Lylia

Hysteric Glamour x Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Quantum Lylia

The triple header Hysteric Glamour x Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Quantum Lylia was heralded as the best womens’ collaboration of 2022 (over here), breaking online drops all over the world. Today they are still just as in demand as they were when they first dropped. Arriving in two colourways including a pink/silver and blue/black, both pairs continue to fetch exorbitant price tags on the aftermarket, with the pink/silver being the most hyped pair. One of the biggest aspects of the collaboration was to interpret Hysteric Glamour from today’s lens, with Kiko Kostadinov’s Laura Fanning saying, ‘It was about asking what Hysteric Glamour would look like had it been started today... We’re thinking about the girl who’s rediscovering iconic pieces on Depop and Etsy. How is she wearing them? How is she mixing them in with her own wardrobe?’

Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Aurania

Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Aurania

The Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Aurania walked so that the Hysteric Glamour x Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Quantum Lylia could run. The Comme Des Garçons x Salomon RX 3.0 wasn’t the only Mary Jane sneaker to release two years ago, in fact it’s potentially these luxe colabs that planted the seed that sprouted in 2023. In 2020, regular collaborators Kiko Kostadinov and ASICS teamed up to release the GEL-Aurania. Dropping in two colourways, ‘Black/Grey’ and ‘Coffee’, the design is a tech-heavy silhouette that features a vero strap construction and a bold ASICS logo on the tongue.

Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS GT-2160

Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS GT-2160

Following on from the hyped release of the Hysteric Glamour x Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Quantum Lylia, it was clear that the market was hungry for even more Mary Jane goodness. Then Cecilie Bahnsen entered the chat. Having first teamed up with ASICS the year prior, the eponymous Copenhagen-based label – renowned for its French fashion aesthetic meets Scandinavian style – this time curated two takes on the archival running silhouette: the GT-2160. One replete in silver/white and one in tonal black, the Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS GT-2160 sold out in seconds all around the world.

nike mary jane sneaker
via jakofallvintage

Nike Sock Dart-esque Mary Jane

Nike’s Y2K era of footwear houses some of the brand’s most iconic designs, Alpha Project aside too, with many looking right at home in the Y2K renaissance of the modern 2020s. Among the releases is the Sock Dart-esque Mary Janes, which released in a number of colourways from brown to red. Featuring similar tooling to the Sock Dart, the Mary Jane version carries a similar toebox design. There are some noticeable differences too, as seen in the midsole structure and of course the Mary Jane straps. The NIke Mary Jane style sneaker is no longer in production today, however they are still available to buy on secondhand marketplaces.

puma speed princess
via 1but

PUMA Speed Princess

You’ve heard of the PUMA Speedcat, but have you heard of the PUMA Speed Princess? Harking back to the heyday of the Mary Jane sneaker crossover also came an entry from the Big Cat. Reimagining the Speedcat in the ‘strap in’ style, PUMA omitted the lace-up fastening for velcro straps closures, while retaining the classic Formstrip and similar Speedcat midsole tooling. PUMA dropped numerous iterations of the Speed Princess, even in ‘Rosso Corsa’ as part of the brand’s Ferrari gear.

Want more? Take a deep dive into the origins of the Nike Air Rift here.

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