While the internet has changed accessibility to sneakers dramatically, there still remains those dreaded overseas exclusives US heads can’t get their hands on! With that being said, we take a look back at the last decade and highlight 25 of the best overseas only releases which either drove you crazy trying to get your hands on a pair via the resell market or made you quickly befriend a fellow sneakerhead in a far away region. Feel free to let us know in the comments section below your most treasured pickup on this list or your best story you went through trying to attain one of these pairs!
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atmos x Nike Air Max 1 B "Viotech"
Release Date: 2003
Japanese brand atmos has a body of work with the Nike Air Max 1 that goes way back, the results of which are nothing short of legendary. After hitting a home run on their first Nike collab with the highly coveted “B Safari” in 2002, atmos took a victory lap in 2003 with these “Viotech” AM1s.
Nike Dunk SB Low "Paris"
Release Date: 8/1/2003
Created in the summer of 2003, for the White Dunk: Evolution of an Icon art expo in Paris, this beauty is arguably the most highly-coveted SB Dunk of all time. Limited to only 202 pairs, and because of the way Nike cut the canvas, no two of which are alike. The “Paris” SB Dunks actually had their initial release cancelled, because too many people showed up to try and cop them. The shoes were then split up and distributed to two Parisian sneaker boutiques, Colette and Opium. Ah, the good old days.
mita x Nike Air Force 1 Low
Release Date: 2004
Classic silhouette? Check. Patent leather? Check. Ostrich skin mudguards? Check and mate. When attacking this Air Force 1 Low in 2004, Japanese sneaker boutique mita really came correct. Unfortunately for AF1 heads in the US, this one never made the leap across the pond.
Nike Air Max 1 "Greystone"
Release Date: 2004
A Europe-only release, the Nike Air Max 1 “Greystone” was a throwback. Resembling some of the original colorways of the AM1, this 2004 drop was passed over by many who were after the Air Max 1 “USA” which, ironically enough, was also a EU (and Asia) exclusive.
Nike SB Dunk Low "Shanghai"
Release Date: November 2004
Speaking of crazy-hot SBs, the SB Dunk Low “Shanghai” followed up Nike’s first product year with a very strong release. So strong in fact, that Nike has even retro’ed these recently. This one was originally designed for a Chinese rap artist named Deng Ke Chow, and was unfortunately for US fans, a China-exclusive.
Parra x Nike Air Max 1 "Amsterdam"
Release Date: August 2005
Back before the SB Dunk was all the rage, if you were blessed enough to get a collaboration with Nike, the go-to silhouette was of course, the Air Max 1. In 2005, Nike produced a “Capitol Series” choosing one artist from a handful of international capitols to design an AM1. For Amsterdam, Parra got the green light and helped produce what is now celebrated as one of the best AM1 collabs to date. Released in super limited numbers – rumored to be around 250 pairs – strangely enough, large-footers were left out in the cold, with the largest size produced being an 11.5.
Slam City Skates x Nike Dunk Low Pro SB
Release Date: September 2005
UK based Slam City Skates teamed up with Nike SB back in 2005, around the height of the SB craze, to design what’s become one of the most sought after SB Dunk Lows of all time. Perhaps it’s the buttery brown suede, the swoosh that changes color with use (a la Statue of Liberty Dunks), or the unique map of UK skate spots printed on the insoles, that makes these so popular. Regardless, despite an ultra limited 2013 re-release, these still remain out of reach for most.
Foot Patrol x Nike Air Stab
Release Date: 12/3/2005
Just the second silhouette in Nike’s Air Max stable, the Nike Air Stability (aka Air Stab), is often overlooked due to the barrage of other models in the product line. But in 2005, London-based boutique Foot Patrol went digging in the vault and took a crack at this beautiful Air Stab collaboration. Rather than using a gimmicky theme (as was the style at the time), the boys at Foot Patrol opted to design a brand new colorway completely in house. After the success of this collab, Nike went back and retro’ed several Stab colorways, and also put the silo up on Nike iD for a spell. Nice work gentlemen.
CLOT x Nike Air Max 1 NL Premium "Kiss of Death"
Release Date: June 2006
Most of us know about the CLOTx Nike Air Max 1s that just dropped at the beginning of September, but their 2006 project is a legend. Often cited as being one of the best AM1 collabs of all time, the CLOT x Nike Air Max 1 “Kiss of Death” really pushed the envelope. This release was actually Nike’s first collaboration in Hong Kong. And, yes, that is a clear toe box. You better have your sock game right when rocking these jewels.
Solebox x New Balance 1500 "Purple Devil"
Release Date: 9/25/2006
Throughout 2006, Berlin-based boutique Solebox designed three pairs of New Balances with a similar purple theme. Dubbed the “Purple Devil” series, the colorway hit up the 575, the 576 and finally, the 1500. Limited to only 300 pairs, this was the toughest one to get your hands on.
Patta x Nike Air Max 90 "Homegrown" Pack
Release Date: December 2006
Late 2006 brought us another one of the most highly prized Air Max trainers of all time, but this time around, it was an AM90. Spun up by the fellas at Patta, the nickname and colorway “Homegrown” draws obvious overtones from a certain recreational activity legalized in Amsterdam, but the real story on this classic is the use of quality materials. Leaf patterned leather (think elephant print, but with leaves), clean suede and a perf nubuck come together perfectly to make the Homegrown AM90 standout from the crowd.
atmos x Nike Air Max 1 Premium
Release Date: 1/1/2007
Likely the best use of elephant print outside of the Jordan III, atmos’ Premium Air Max 1 is head and shoulders above the rest. Considered by Air Max heads to be the holiest of holy grails, the elephant print, coupled with black suede and solid contrasting white midsole allow the bright teal Swoosh to really set this shoe off. Tracking a DS pair down in your size is a tall (and highly expensive) task. Take it from us, we know from experience.
Air Jordan I XQ
Release Date: May 2007
Despite two separate releases (the original in 2007, and a retro High recently in 2013), this elusive AJ I never made it to retail outside of China. Rumored production (of the 2007 version) was pegged at only 240 units. So, those who were able to pick these up are in possession of one of the rarest Jordan Is to date.
Patta x Asics Gel Lyte III
Release Date: 6/15/2007
According to Patta, this shoe holds a lot of significance to the shop. Not only is this the first collaboration that actually had their wordmark on it, but it was the first time they had people camp outside the store waiting for a release. Now, those campers are commonplace. But, back in ’07, best believe that Patta went in on this Gel Lyte III. If the split-tongue didn’t differentiate these shoes enough, the 3M, Patta green, and dope speckled midsole certainly did.
Solebox x New Balance 1500 "Toothpaste" Pack
Release Date: 11/2/2007
With only 216 pairs of each color, the Solebox x New Balance 1500 “Toothpaste” pack is one of the Berlin shop’s more elusive sneakers. Continuing their annual installment of NB 1500 collaborations, 2007’s “Toothpaste” pack sold out with the quickness. Aside from the dope colorway, another unique feature of this release is that each pair came with a matching toothbrush. Sweet.
Air Jordan VII Retro “Miro”
Release Date: 7/1/2008
We’ve featured the Air Jordan VII “Miro” here before, but as a Spain-exclusive, and one of the more unique colorways in the Jordan canon, the Miro could always use some more shine. The Dream Team burned up the competition in Barcelona in the summer of 1992, with MJ wearing the VII. However, the Miro colorway itself takes inspiration from a famous sculpture, by the late Joan Miro, who was from Barcelona. Dropped in 2008, as an OC (Olympic Celebration) release, this beauty was limited to less than 1,000 pairs.
Solebox x New Balance 1500 "Nazar Eye"
Release Date: 11/22/2008
Following up the “Toothpaste” pack from the year prior, Solebox returned to the 1500 with one of their best efforts to date. The New Balance 1500 “Nazar Eye” is a more subtle colorway than most of Solebox’s collabs, but we feel that’s why they work so well. Black leather upper, grey mudguard and gum soles? Yes, please!
Patta x Asics Gel Lyte Speed
Release Date: 1/31/2009
After explaining the significance of their first Asics collab, what better way to celebrate Patta’s 5th anniversary then to drop another crazy dope Asics collab. This time though, Patta hit up the Gel Lyte Speed. A little more conventional of a silhouette than the GL3, the Gel Lyte Speed makes up for that with a hot red, yellow and turquoise colorway. This release dropped, in limited quantities of course, throughout Europe…but no US release.
Solebox x New Balance 1500 "The Finals Pack” Maroon
Release Date: 8/22/2009
As we’ve documented here over the years, the good folks at Solebox have had their fair share of notable New Balance collabs. Unfortunately for sneakerheads, 2009 brought an end to their annual series of NB 1500s. However, the boys from Berlin did leave us with another sick pack to close out the series. Bringing it back to the basics, the New Balance “Finals” pack is basically an updated version of the 1500, that closely resembles the first collaboration between the two parties. What a great way to go out, but only the green pair ended up hitting retail spots in the States with the maroon colorway remaining a Solebox exclusive.
Patta x Nike Air Max 1 "Anniversary Pack"
Release Date: 2009/2010
Dutch shop Patta is no stranger to “best of” lists and, after admiring their legendary Air Max 1 “Anniversary Pack” releases, it’s obvious why. Over the course of a few months in 2009-10, they released five, count em FIVE, of the dopest Air Max 1s ever created. Looping in the Dutch artist Parra for the final – and most popular – pair (including a sweet Nike Destroyer jacket), Patta really knows how to celebrate an anniversary.
hectic x mita sneakers x New Balance MT580
Release Date: 12/23/2010
No stranger to dope New Balance collabs, back in 2010, mita and Japanese streetwear label HECTIC blessed sneakerheads with as fine a Christmas present as any. Dropping just a few days before the holiday, these MT580s sport beautiful, plush black leather uppers and an insane wood grain midsole. Yeah, that’s right…wood grain midsoles.
Jordan V "Tokyo23"
Release Date: 4/1/2011
The Air Jordan V “Tokyo 23″ is a grail for many fans of the V silhouette. Released exclusively in Japan to commemorate the Jordan-sponsored streetball tournament, this bright yellow nubuck V commands eye-popping prices on the resale market.
Jordan V "Quai 54"
Release Date: 7/1/2011
A little more attainable than some of the others on this list, the Air Jordan V “Quai 54″ was still a tough get. Releasing in limited numbers through EU Footlockers and a few Japanese boutiques, the Quai 54 was put together in celebration of the famous Parisian streeball tournament, of which Jordan is naturally a sponsor. This one had US JB fans blazing up those message boards, as it’s stateside release was once rumored, announced as a HOH release, and then rescinded. Burn.
BAPE x adidas Originals Superstar 80s "B-Sides"
Release Date: 8/8/2011
These were called the “B-sides”, but they may as well have nicknamed them “the pandemoniums”. Dropped exclusively in Bape Japan stores and adidas Harajuku, this is a collab that every up and coming designer should know about. Clean colorway + premium materials + subtle branding (especially for Bape) = Instant Classic.
atmos x Air Max 1 "Animal Camo" Pack
Release Date: 2/23/2013
Another collab we’ve featured in the past, the atmos x Nike Air Max 1 “Animal Camo” pack is just plain crazy. Dropped at atmos Japan this past February, this capsule is on point, even down to the matching tees and snapbacks. Ever since resellers got a hold of these we’ve been praying for a US release.