ARTICLE BY Boon Mark Souphanh

The Most Underrated Sneaker Collaborations of 2020

thisisneverthat x new balance 827 header
via Livestock

Reflecting on a wild 2020, it’s fair to say we’ve been swept up in Dunkmania, got nostalgic with the New Balance 992, and had our minds truly blown by the Dior x Air Jordan 1. Sneaker collaborations have never been more prolific, with the usual suspects finding their way to the top of social media feeds and personal wishlists.

With that in mind, we’re not ones to forget about the killer collaborative creps which have managed to fly under the radar – unjustly, of course.

Without a ‘Cactus Jack’ logo in sight, take a break from the all the hype. Here’s our most underrated sneaker collaborations of the year.

beams x salomon XA PRO 3D GTX


Delivering a covert collaborative offering in more ways than one, Japanese imprint BEAMS came through with another trail-ready Salomon project, this time applying their signature asymmetric colour-blocking to the XA PRO 3D GTX. Even the lining colours mix it up!

Elevating the classic outdoor combo of olive and beige, BEAMS use the XA PRO 3D GTX’s multilayered upper to create a striking aesthetic. Of course, all the technical elements are there too, including a ripstop mesh underlayer, and reinforced toe caps.

Above the Clouds x ASICS GEL-1090

Above The Clouds x ASICS GEL-1090

Sydney boutique Above The Clouds celebrated 10 years in the retail game in a big way, finessing their first-ever sneaker collaboration: a super clean ASICS GEL-1090.

ATC founder Dimitri Calligeros has embodied the ASICS ‘Sound Mind, Sound Body’ mantra since taking the reins on his retail venture, and it was only fitting that the collaboration did the same, with ‘MIND’ and ‘BODY’ tongue labels.

Here’s to many more ATC sneaker projects in future years!

thisisneverthat new balance 827
via Livestock
thisisneverthat new balance 827
via Livestock

thisisneverthat x New Balance 827

In a huge year for South Korean brands, Seoul-based thisisneverthat managed to build on their popular partnership with New Balance.

Following a ‘Physical Fitness Uniform’ 997 in 2019, they joined in on the return of the 827 in 2020, unveiling two seriously wearable colourways. Arriving in black and brown, the sneaker features an ABZORB midsole with TPU stability web, nylon webbing details with reflective print, and co-branded insoles.

With collaborations erring on the side of maximal over the past 12 months, it was encouraging to see thisisneverthat keep things decidedly understated.

 XLARGE x Reebok instapump fury on white

XLARGE x Reebok Instapump Fury

OG streetwear label XLARGE and the Reebok Instapump Fury are both fan-favourites in Japan, so it was only natural that the former added its psychedelic tie-dye detailing to the OG ‘Citron’ colourway.

The Instapump Fury’s midfoot Pump bladder is covered in the trademark rainbow mix, wrapping all the way around the upper. Meanwhile, the OG ‘Citron’ is honoured with neon yellow on the inner lining and toe cap, paired with familiar bright red.

Were suckers for a region-exclusive drop, and these certainly rank among 2020s best.

noah x adidas gazelle OG on foot
noah x adidas gazelle hero

Noah x adidas Gazelle OG

Quite possibly the best cat-themed creation since Tiger King, Noah flexed their collaborative claws with a cheetah-clad adidas Gazelle to end the year. Re-imagining the Three Stripes classic, the New York labels latest was a bona fide favourite among SF staffers.

Noahs goal in choosing cheetah print was to continue the tradition of the Gazelles being defined by the person viewing them. Mission accomplished, we say.

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