Raf Simons’ Most Iconic Pre-adidas Releases
This article was originally published on November 8, 2021.
World-renowned Belgian designer Raf Simons has had a huge impact on sneakers and their integration into the world of fashion. Although sneakers in high fashion have existed for some time, they have really made their mark on the larger sneaker game only recently. And the demand is growing fast, with consumers hanging for the next release and the likes of Balenciaga and Gucci now relying on sneakers as a major revenue stream.
When the king of avant-garde sneakers, Yohji Yamamoto, teamed up with adidas in 2002 for the Y-3, this legendary collaboration paved the way for other influential designers to start working with the Three Stripes. It’s not clear whether even Simons knew what he was going to unleash when his adidas colab dropped back in 2013. Consisting of five shoes in three different colourways, each shoe was modelled on ‘signature adidas high-end performance and running silhouettes’.
Having also collaborated with the likes of Fred Perry and Eastpak, none have been able to rival the scale of work Simons has done with adidas. However, before the 2013 adidas link-up, Simons had many of his own sneakers under his namesake label. These high-fashion kicks have become a collector’s wet dream.
Here’s a look at some of the most influential and iconic sneakers that Simons has released.
SS08 DE STIJL HIKING BOOTS
The rare and highly sought-after De Stijl Hiking Boots nod to Amsterdam’s neoplastic artistic movement of 1917. Using a wide variety of materials, including leather, cork and plastic, this was an experimental piece of footwear. Ahead of their time, and with an original retail price of $1800, the De Stijl definitely turned heads.
FW09 RAF SIMONS ASICS TECHNICAL TRAINER
Sadly, this collaboration is often overshadowed by Simons’ later work with adidas. Partnered with a detachable nylon ankle sleeve, this model was debuted for Fall/Winter 2009. This silhouette featured neon detailing that is very reminiscent of a modern-day Ozweego.
VELCRO HIGH SNEAKER
These have arguably become one of the most recognisable Raf Simons silhouettes to date, even though they debuted almost 10 years ago. Created with premium materials and boasting Simons’ signature double velcro straps, this shoe is still very much appreciated by Raf lovers around the globe.
AW/05 MOTO SNEAKERS
Simons came up with the Moto Sneaker in 2005 for his ‘history of my world’ collection. This futuristic shoe was one of the first sneakers that Simons designed, and it’s punctuated throughout with his signature aesthetic.
Released in a multitude of colours, this silhouette has become a very iconic Simons sneaker. Having multiple tongues, a strap, and a pouch on the heel, this is definitely a piece of footwear that has been given everything that’s possible on a shoe.
RAF SIMONS x COLETTE MEETS X COMME DES GARÇONS x VANS SLIP-ON 2005
Littered in graphics from Raf Simons’ Spring/Summer ‘consumed’ collection, this collaboration between Comme des Garçons, Colette Meets, Raf Simons and Vans is as rare as they come. Created for the Collette Meets Comme des Garçons store, and with only 100 pairs made, a deadstock pair of these is very hard to come by.