SF Staff Picks: Our Favourite Mismatched Sneakers
Symmetrical sneakers may offer a sense of harmony, but sometimes, they’re too straight-laced. Mismatched and ‘What The’-style colourways have become more prevalent in recent years, and some hit harder than others. Here are the Sneaker Freaker team’s favourites.
Will – BEAMS x Salomon XA PRO 3D GTX
GORE-TEX. 3D Advanced Chassis. ContaGrip outsole. I’m sure these features would be the highlight if I ever actually made it onto a trail with a tricky incline. Instead, as someone who prefers a subtler take on mismatching, it’s the colour-gradation tech doing it for me here. I’ve loved BEAMS since stumbling across a store on my first trip to Tokyo way back when, and these shoes are a sleek, earth-toned delight from two brands that seem to nail asymmetry with each collaboration.
Seb – Brain Dead x Kiko Kostadinov x ASICS GEL-Fratelli
My all-time favourite mismatched sneaker is the triple-header collaboration from Kiko Kostadinov, Brain Dead and ASICS! Using the GEL-Fratelli silhouette – a mishmash of the GEL-Nimbus 23 and ASICS Lazerbeam – the trio created one of the most interesting linkups to date. Taking collaboration to a whole new level, the Kiko team worked on the right shoe while Brain Dead worked on the left. Without seeing each other’s creations, they were married together, creating a wild duo that looked vastly different.
Minh – Engineered Garments x New Balance 993
Engineered Garments and BEAMS seem to have shared custody over the tonal mismatched look across their garment and shoe collaborations. In fact, they’ve teamed up together a handful of times with sneaker brands to execute the unique style. However, my favourite example goes to EG, who whipped up this New Balance 993 duo back in 2013. The grey pair really accentuates the contrasting suede and mesh panels. Plus, having the shoes side-by-side is a great example of the collaborator’s off-kilter concepts. They’re pretty hard to find these days, having released exclusively in limited numbers at Nepenthes New York, almost a decade ago.
Gabe – Air Jordan 1 ‘Top 3’
To be honest, you could dip the Air Jordan 1 in the nearest public toilet and I’d still pony up. The Air Jordan 1 ‘Top 3’ is the kind of colourway that illuminates all the hallmarks of Michael Jordan’s debut silhouette: clean lines, sexy Swoosh, and legendary wings. A homage to a trio of Hall of Fame colourways (‘Bred/Banned’, ‘Chicago’, and ‘Royal’), the AJ1 ‘Top 3’ also alludes to Michael Jordan being selected number 3 in the 1984 NBA draft. Buckets.
Lucas – Nike ‘LB’ Dunk High
I love mismatched sneakers so much that I even had my own custom Dunks made with mismatched colours. The Nike ‘LB’ Dunk High was created by my good friends at BespokeIND in 2020 and features a strict list of details I was looking for on my own sneaker: gum soles, useable pull tabs, stitched-in lace loop straps so they didn’t flap around, a touch of animal print and the black-and-olive panels needed to be mismatched on each shoe. This subtle execution was inspired by the OG Fragment x Nike Dunk High ‘City Pack’. Unlike some overt examples like Nike’s ‘What The’ series, I wanted my Dunks to be practical and something I could wear every day.
Anthony – Nike SB Dunk Low ‘What The Dunk’
Arguably the holiest of grails, the Nike SB Dunk Low ‘What The Dunk’ will always be one of the sneakers I wished I was old enough to get my hands on at release in 2007. The ‘What The Dunk’ was the first of the ongoing ‘What The’ Nike series, which is famous for remixing iconic colourways and designs of previous releases into one mega maximalist’s delight. Apparently, there were only 500 pairs of these ever made, and I don’t doubt it – they’re now moving on the secondary market comfortable for 5 figures. Every facet of this shoe is wild. Its origins, its legendary status, and its price tag.
Chris – Nike SB x Air Jordan 1 ‘Lance Mountain’
During the emergence of skateboarding in the late 80s, names like Lance Mountain and Steve Caballero gravitated towards Air Jordan 1s, a shoe that provided padding and protection in the right places and was also on sale racks at the time. Mountain famously wore mismatched Jordans, sometimes painting over them to create a uniform look, and Nike immortalised this story in 2014 with an official collaboration between Lance Mountain, Nike SB, and Jordan Brand,. In order to reveal the ‘Bred’ colour scheme on the left shoe and ‘Royal’ on the right shoe, these need to be skated in.