Cross-Pollination: The Times Sneaker Brands Crossed Over
The recent launch of the Ronnie Fieg for Clarks Originals 8th Street x adidas Samba was an unprecedented event in the sneakersphere – footwear brands rarely collaborate with each other, much less share intellectual property. However, Fieg’s effort is far from the first to achieve this feat. Here are some other sneaker crossovers from past years.
MADFOOT! x BAPE
Japanese brands MADFOOT! and BAPE are kindred spirits of the early-2000s streetwear scene. Their respective designs were built on pastiches of Western icons and influences that almost bordered on parody. They linked up circa 2005 on a somewhat original model that still referenced familiar footwear models, but the skewed STA logo and co-inhabitated MADFOOT outsole resulted in a distinct look.
BAPE x adidas
BAPE’s official collaborations with adidas are a very full circle moment. Right when Nigo launched BAPE, he opened a store called NOWHERE with Jun Takahashi of ,UNDERCOVER, which stocked vintage adidas. A decade later in 2003, BAPE and adidas officially collaborated – and the former continued releasing a Superstar ‘homage’ called the SKULL STA. In 2021, the co-branded effort became legit once more.
Hender Scheme x adidas
Hender Scheme became known in the West for their ‘Manual Industrial Products’ line, born out of the ‘Hommage’ collection from circa 2013. In essence high-end remakes of iconic sneakers using traditional shoemaking techniques and vegetable tanned leather, the company seemed to avoid any legal ramifications of their practices. They even got approached by adidas in an official capacity to remake the Micropacer, NMD and Superstar, among other models, with their superior craftsmanship. Dr Martens also linked up with Hender Scheme for a similar project.
Reebok x adidas
A theme is starting to develop here… adidas are pretty open to sharing their DNA. Their effort with Reebok made a little more sense, as the Three Stripes was the parent company of the brand at the time. The result was the Instapump Fury BOOST, then a less dramatic Shaqnosis in Dame colours. There was also the ZX Pump, but the less spoken about that, the better.
Vans x Timberland
Another example of internal affairs, the Vans x Timberland collaboration was an inevitable result of the two brands being part of VF Corporation. The crossover was best expressed on the Half Cab Hiker, which combined the Vans Half Cab with the Timberland Euro Hiker. Sure, it was in essence a sole swap and material change, but the result was pretty seamless.
Filling Pieces x PUMA
Dutch brand Filling Pieces had their come-up in the mid-2010s when the fashion and sneaker scene was crossing over. PUMA were also experiencing rejuvenation in that era with their savvy collaboration game, which they took to the next level by fusing FP’s designs with their own. It was more than a chimeric soleswap, but a proper hybrid that balanced PUMA’s proven TRINOMIC soles with Filling Pieces’ luxury crafting.
Balenciaga x adidas
Back to adidas, who added to the luxury and sportswear genre with their remake of the Balenciaga Triple S and Speed Trainer. It was little more than Three Stripes slapped on the chunky shoes, but consider it a continued demonstration of the brands’ eagerness to work together, even if it required low effort.
Clarks Originals x adidas
This collaboration is what inspired this roundup. Ronnie Fieg assembled Clarks Originals and adidas to put crepe soles on the Samba, which is the current TikTok microtrend. It’s a pretty major boon for Clarks, who have always been slightly adjacent to the sneakersphere rather than competing in the upper echelon. With the co-sign of the second-biggest sportswear brand, it’s serious clout for Clarks, who have helped create a likely one-off product in their Samba.
Honourable Mention: Tom Sachs x NikeCraft x Cole Haan ‘Mission Control’
Currently besieged artist Tom Sachs established a collaborative partnership with Nike back in 2012, spawning the NikeCraft sub-brand that created designs like the Mars Yard and General Purpose Shoe. Right at its inception, Sachs’ close associates were given pairs of the ‘Mission Control’, a Cole Haan dress shoe with brogue detailing, and more curiously, a sewn-on Swoosh. This isn’t as weird as it seems, because Nike owned Cole Haan until mid-2012, so this project was one of the last under the Swoosh before the shoemakers were relinquished.