Wacky and Whimsical Sneakers of the 2000s
The 2000s decade was a weird time. It was also arguably the most exciting period for sneakers. A golden era of 1980s and 1990s retros were introduced to new generations of sneakerheads, plus brands were very adventurous with new and experimental designs. Naturally, some silhouettes were better received than others – in retrospect, it’s a good thing some concepts haven’t been resurrected by brands... yet. Let’s take a trip down memory lane…
JB Classics was the eponymous sneaker brand by Jason Bass and Mdot. Founded in 2001, it was definitely ahead of the trend curve with silhouettes like the Pedler and Getlo. They netted colabs with Kidrobot and DC Shoes, pioneering graphic treatments and brightly coloured materials. Small product runs made JB Classics drops highly collectible – it was the early 2000s after all. Bass is a footwear industry veteran, and has since focused on designing performance cycling shoes and ski boots among his deep design portfolio. Check out Sneaker Freaker’s 2007 interview with the brand here.
Japan’s MADFOOT! was also born in 2001, founded by Takashi Imai, who cut his teeth working behind the scenes on projects like early atmos x Nike colabs, and mita sneakers x realmadHECTIC x New Balance MT580s, before doing his own thing. With the help of some close connections, Imai maintained his collaborative spirit and created some pretty zany sneakers. There’s a healthy dose of homage in MADFOOT!’s mid-2000s designs – some are cheekier than others! The brand still operates today, but perhaps have taken things down a notch or two as they walk the tightrope of litigation.
Converse B-Ball by Master P
Rapping, acting, writing, and even a very short-lived NBA career are among the dotpoints on Percy Robert Miller – aka Master P’s CV. The ‘Ice Cream Man’ combined a number of those – ahem – talents and took them to Converse in 1999. He got his own signature sneaker, the Converse MP, and it came in a formidable amount of colour options too. Like his minutes on-court, the sneaker deal went out with a whimper, but not before a promotional single and CD that can still be found on eBay. This wasn’t the last time Master P worked with sneakers though. His current entrepreneurial venture, MoneYatti, is promised to be the ‘Bugatti of shoes’. Let’s see if that’s true.
It’s a little unfair to put Creative Recreation on this list, considering they are still in business. But it’s safe to say they no longer scale the lofty heights of their mid-2000s omnipresence. The Cesario was everywhere! Its forefoot strap was divisive – still is – but for a while, CR had an iron grip on casual sneaker trends worldwide. This perforated Tiffany edition would have absolutely slapped if it dropped in 2005, but you can pick them up direct now. Big ups to an independent sneaker company for being in the game for 18-plus years though!
PUMA Satori Lux
The most mainstream brand on this list, but by far the most radical. PUMA were really doing some crazy things in the early 2000s, and they weren’t afraid of alienating their old-school, Clyde-wearing customer base. The Satori Lux was a wild, limited-edition beast of a sneaker, complete in faux pony hair. It was free of laces, yet full of segmented, layered 'armour' sections. The innovative silhouette was part of an internally-named product category called 'Motion', alongside silhouettes like the Brush Spike, K-1, Beisser and Wake. (Thanks to airrev for the tidbit!) Only 500 pairs of the Satori were made – it’s easy to see why – but it showed the Big Cat were not afraid to take a few risks. Besides, they would have been well hidden under flared jeans when they dropped in 2004 anyway!
In 20 years’ time, what will be today’s silhouettes that make it onto this sort of list?