The 25 First Collaborations Of Today’s Best Collaborators

With collab portfolios seemingly getting thicker every week, we look back at the first collab efforts from some of your favorite collaborators in the game today! From shops, magazines and artists all across the globe, sneaker companies have continually used collaborations to generate excitement for their brand, introduce a new audience to an older silhouette or celebrate a particular anniversary/milestone...just to name a few. With some of these releases dating back to probably before you were even into sneakers or learned about a particular shop/brand, how many of these can you say you were familiar with? Take a look and let us know in the comments section below which of these first collabs you still have in the 'ol collection.

Supreme

Sneaker: Supreme x Vans Old Skool
Year: 1996

Now pretty much known as the king of collabs, particularly for their resume of dope Nike releases, Supreme has been dropping fire footwear for nearly two decades now. But, despite all the hype their releases garner these days, their first sneaker collab harkens back to the brand’s roots. They were of course, started as a skate company. Which is why the Vans Old Skool was a perfect canvas to get the collab portfolio started on. Dropping in three colorways – two camo and one 3M joint – these Old Skools are understated and perfect.

atmos

Sneaker: atmos x Nike Dunk Low & Air Force 1 Low
Year: 2001

When you hear about a new atmos collab, you almost always think of some crazy-limited Air Max, often done up in some loud animal or camo print that you’ll probably never be able to get your hands on. But, the Japanese boutique’s first foray into sneaker collaboration came in a much more neutral tone. In 2001, we were served with a double dose of Nike and atmos, teaming up on both low top silos of the Air Force 1 and the Dunk.

Footpatrol

Sneaker: Footpatrol x Nike Air Epic Hyperstrike
Year: 2003

When brands and shops get together to collab on a sneaker, nostalgia is often used as the catalyst for bringing lesser-known silhouettes back from the dead. As was the case when London-based Footpatrol got their feet wet in collaboration with Nike. Digging through the vaults, Footpatrol and Nike chose to bring back the Nike Air Epic in a suitably gloomy colorway. Unfortunately for most sneakerheads, exclusivity ruled over this release, as it got dubbed a hyperstrike and was limited to a rumored 24 pairs.

Sneakersnstuff

Sneaker: Sneakersnstuff x Puma Basket Hemp
Year: 2003

To say that Sweden-based footwear hub Sneakersnstuff has really honed their craft in recent years, would be both accurate and short-sighted. They have dropped some excellent collabs of-late. But they’ve actually been putting out that heat since way back in 2003. To kick things off, SNS did its thing on this super clean Puma Basket in a neutral hemp material. Limited to just 136 individually numbered pairs, these Baskets are awesome.

Stash

Sneaker: Stash x Nike Air Force 1 High
Year: 2003

With numerous classic sneaker collabs under his belt, Josh “Stash” Franklin has undoubtedly put his mark on the game. Though widely known for his infamous Air Max 95, in a now trademark palette of blue hues, it was his first collab with Nike that set the mark for how a collaboration should be done. Now considered one of the best Nike collabs in most circles, 2003’s graffiti nozzle “Stash” Air Force 1 High is an icon all it’s own.

Futura

Sneaker: Futura x Nike SB Dunk Low
Year: 2003

Graffiti artist Futura has been getting down with Nike for a long time now, and the results to this point have been fantastic. While most folks know of Futura through his legendary designs on the likes of the UNKLE or FLOM Dunk Highs, his first collab with Nike actually came back in 2003, with this SB Dunk Low. Dubbed simply the “Futura” colorway, a lot of folks overlook this collab, simply because of the understated colorway. But one thing to make note of is, at a time when folks primarily did their uppers in one material (suede, leather, etc), the Futura Dunks opted to combine mesh, suede and leather to add an interesting contrast to this seemingly simple colorway.

Pharrell

Sneaker: N.E.R.D. x Nike Dunk High
Year: 2004

You already know that style gawd Pharrell has collaborated on everything from clothing to perfume to furniture. But we’re super excited to see what else his deal with adidas brings to fruition. Prior to his work with BAPE and the gents at adidas, Skateboard P got his first footwear collab teaming up with Nike on the excellent “N.E.R.D.” Dunk High. Releasing in 2004, Pharrell’s Dunks are interesting, not only because of how dope they are, but also because their so subtle. Always known for his epic style, it’s interesting to look back at his first footwear collab and see such conservative composition. Oh, how times have changed.

Jeff Staple

Sneaker: Jeff Staple x Nike Air Max 90 “Navigation Pack”
Year: 2004

While everyone and their mother knows about Jeff Staple’s legendary “Pigeon” Dunks, not many folks know about his footwear collabs prior to that 2005 release. Teaming up with Nike a few times prior to the Pigeons, Staple got the chance to help design one of Nike’s “City Pack” releases; 2004’s Navigation Pack. Adorned with a pattern resembling an aerial view of New York City, Staple actually got down on both a men’s and women’s colorway. Of course, the very next year, he’d be asked to take part in designing an SB Dunk, and thus creating the Pigeon legacy.

Kanye West

Sneaker: Kanye West x Nike Air 180
Year: 2005

When Kanye’s sneaker legacy is finished being written, there’s no doubt that the Nike Air Yeezy series will stand out as the tipping point. However, most people aren’t aware of the design work he did before the Yeezy. In fact, the Air Yeezy wasn’t even Ye’s first collab with Nike. Back in 2005-06, after the success of the College Dropout album, Ye teamed up with Nike to hit up the classic Air 180. The result was this excellent animal print-clad banger. Unfortunately for us, these babies were a friends and family release that never made it to retail. We wouldn’t get a Kanye sneaker collab at retail until 2006’s Dropout-themed Bapesta.

Sole Collector

Sneaker: Sole Collector x Nike Air Presto “Honolulu”
Year: 2005

We’ve already professed our love for Sole Collector’s work here in the past. But, if you’re looking for more reasons why, look no further than their very first sneaker collaboration; the “Honolulu” Nike Air Presto. Released at a Honolulu NikeTown event in 2005, these aloha-themed Prestos were limited to just 48 pairs and, naturally, sold out instantly.

Dave White

Sneaker: Dave White x Nike Air Max 90 “Neon”
Year: 2005

While many of us are most familiar with artist Dave White’s high-profile work with Jordan Brand, his first footwear collab predates those 1s by the better part of a decade. Often credited as the pioneer of the “sneaker art” movement, his art even hangs in the hallways and offices at Nike HQ. So White was an obvious choice to get the nod on a collab when Nike was putting together 2005’s “Neon” or “Wet Paint” pack. For his part, White chose to create a modern take on the iconic Air Max 95s “Neon” colorway, on the equally excellent Air Max 90. These are just so dope.

Solebox

Sneaker: Solebox x New Balance 1500GGB “1 of 150″
Year: 2005

When you think of the Mt. Rushmore of sneaker collaborators, if you’re not including Hikmet and the folks at Berlin’s Solebox, you better think again. Known world-wide for some of the finest collabs the sneaker world has ever seen, Solebox has that fire. But it all began in 2005, with the “1 of 150″ New Balance 1500GGB. Just a prelude to their brilliance (particularly with regard to their New Balance work), these 1500s are so clean.

Patta

Sneaker: Patta x Nike Air Max 1 “Amsterdam”
Year: 2005

Oh, Patta. Perhaps no other shop has ever had as many highly regarded sneaker collabs as Amsterdam’s Patta. And their first forray into collabs was a legend in the making. Interestingly, the folks at Patta didn’t actually design these beauties, Dutch artist Parra did (Patta oversaw the project). Even more interestingly, the legendary colorway we know today, almost never was. Initially, the intended colorway for the “Amsterdam” Nike Air Max 1 was a very dope blue and orange pair, inspired by the colors of a local supermarket in the Netherlands. However, before the shoes were pushed into production, the store chain switched up their brand identity, including those infamous colors. So Parra did away with the original design, in favor of the colorway we’re all familiar with today. Inspired by the neon glow of nighttime in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, these 1s are some of the best ever. Though there are some samples of the original colorway floating around, we’d really like to see those release sometime in the future.

Undefeated

Sneaker: Undefeated x Pro-Keds Royal
Year: 2005

LA’s Undefeated has been grinding! Nowadays known for their almost quarterly collabs with major brands like Nike, Converse and adidas, UNDFTD has gone from local boutique to full-fledged streetwear label. But their first sneaker collab came by way of the iconic label Pro-Keds. Teaming up to drop this military themed Royal, these canvas high tops dropped prior to all their work with Nike, way back in the spring of 2005.

UBIQ

Sneaker: UBIQ x Reebok Court Victory Pump & Ventilator
Year: 2005

Released on Black Friday 2005, Philly’s UBIQ blessed us with their very first collaboration, an excellent take on two classic Reebok silhouettes. Taking their shot at both the Court Victory Pump, and the infamous Ventilator, UBIQ gave us this slick maroon and beige colorway. Trimmed up with olive green hits and the always-welcome gum soles, these were a really tough collab. Not only aesthetically, but with only 48 pairs released in each silo, they were difficult kicks to get your hands on as well.

Bape

Sneaker: BAPE x Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Ox
Year: 2006

We covered these BAPE Chucks in our previous collab post, but 2006s team-up with Converse signaled a big change for BAPE as a brand. Prior to it, the company had been pushing out nothing but their own “inspired” versions of already classic silhouettes like the Bapesta. But these All Star Ox’s marked their first footwear collaboration, and also the first time we saw that “Ape Camo” on a sneaker.

Sneaker Freaker

Sneaker: Sneaker Freaker x Lacoste Missouri 85 “Minty Fresh”
Year: 2006

Another one of our favorite sneaker publications, Sneaker Freaker, is also a very accomplished collaborator. After getting their magazine off the ground in 2002, it wasn’t long before they had a steady circulation and were looking to take it to the next level. Fast forward to 2006, and every significant shop and designer is getting down on a footwear collab of some kind, and Sneaker Freaker wanted in on it too. One of the things we like most about SF, is their penchant for choosing nontraditional silhouettes to collab on (like their famous Blaze of Glory Pumas). Sure, they could have gone with an Air Force 1, or a pair of Chucks. But for their first collab, the boys from Sneaker Freaker chose to team up with Lacoste on a silo that hadn’t been seen since the mid 80s, the Missouri. Done up in a classic white/black/grey colorway, the Missouris are offset with nice hits of mint. Released in typical Sneaker Freaker fashion (ie, super limited and hard to get), these were an excellent stepping stone to help put Sneaker Freaker on the global map.

Blends

Sneaker: Blends x Nike Air Max 95
Year: 2006

Though perhaps most well known for their fantastic collaborations with Vans, Southern California footwear staple Blends began their collaborative portfolio with this wild tag team with Nike. Using exclusive iD options, Blends was allowed to create this collab back in 2006, releasing just 95 pairs, and breaking a lot of hearts along the way. Utilizing black buffalo skin, neon and white patent leather and those super loud blue laces, these 95s were an ultra-tough cop.

Ronnie Fieg

Sneaker: Ronnie Fieg x David Z. x Asics Gel Lyte III “252 Pack”
Year: 2007

Ronnie Fieg is often credited with breathing life into the Asics lifestyle division with his unique designs of their Gel Lyte silhouettes. And it all started in 2007. After moving his way up from the stock room to become the head buyer for New York’s David Z, he got the opportunity to collaborate with Asics on this trio of Gel Lyte IIIs, dubbed the “252 Pack.” Releasing just 252 pair of each colorway, the pair pictured above was the first to drop. The other two colorways were released at a Complex release party and online. After garnering enough hype to justify a cover appearance on the Wall Street Jounral (!), the rest was a wrap.

Bodega

Sneaker: Bodega x Converse Jack Purcell Mid “Lumberjack Collection”
Year: 2007

For their first footwear collaboration, Bodega teamed up with Converse to create an excellent Jack Purcell that fits perfectly within the Boston-based shop’s storefront. Packaged in a resealable bag, and done up in a meaty brown leather, these Purcell mids are set off by a healthy dose of black and red lumberjack flannel. That’s the one thing we’ve always loved about Bodega’s collabs, they’ve always got an awesome theme and very detail-oriented packaging to go with it. It’s the little things.

Concepts

Sneaker: Concepts x New Balance 576
Year: 2007

Concepts has made a name for itself with top-notch collab designs and crazy releases that have folks lining up, often in the cold, for days at a time. But it all started back in 2007, as one would expect, with their Massachusetts neighbors New Balance, on this excellent 576. Look, the UCLA-like colorway might not be for everyone. We actually dig them. But, what we love most about this particular collab is the variety and detail of materials used. Peep the pebbled white leather, the plush blue and yellow nubuck, and just a couple quick hits of white patent leather. This collab was a perfect start to a partnership that has benefitted sneakerheads for some time now

DJ Clark Kent

Sneaker: DJ Clark Kent x Nike “112 Pack”
Year: 2008

If there is a more appropriate way to start your collaborative portfolio, we can’t think of one better than DJ Clark Kent’s beloved “112 Pack.” For those of you unfamiliar, Kent is from Brooklyn, in which all zip codes start with “112.” In what has become a go-to Nike colorway, Kent got down with this pack of “1” silhouettes. Featuring an Air Max 1, an Air Force 1 and an Air Trainer 1 Mid, the “112 Pack” ensured summer 2008 really brought that HEAT!

Nice Kicks

Sneaker: Nice Kicks x Ronnie Fieg x Asics Gel Lyte III
Year: 2009

Oh, you thought them Yeezys started the all red wave? Nah, neither did these fire Asics GL3s done up back in 2009 by Ronnie Fieg and the good folks over at Nice Kicks. But, they did put RF, Nice Kicks and the Gel Lyte III silhouette onto the radars of a lot of sneakerheads. Back in ’09, Ronnie teamed up with three well-known blogs (Nice Kicks, Highsnobiety, and Culture Shoq) to drop these fantastic collaborative Gel Lyte IIIs. For their first collab, Nice Kicks really showed out.

A.P.C.

Sneaker: A.P.C. x Vans Authentic & Chukka
Year: 2011

French menswear label A.P.C. has really been making a name for itself lately. With high-profile get-downs alongside the likes of Louis Wong and Kanye West, they’ve also begun to dabble in sneaker collaborations as well. But, while everyone knows about their recent drops with Nike (those gum soled Air Max 1s are just so dope), their sneaker portfolio started off a bit more humble with Vans. Initially teaming up in 2011 on three shoes, A.P.C. approached this collaboration with the same understated premium quality that has made their Nike drops so popular. Encompassing three pairs of Authentic’s and a pair of Chukka’s, A.P.C.’s high-quality, low-flash Vans are perfect.

Extra Butter

Sneaker: Extra Butter x Reebok Pump AXT “Achoo”
Year: 2011

You see, when people talk about sneakers telling a story, this is the kind of off-the-wall stuff we love to see. The boys at Extra Butter really went in on their first collab, 2011’s “Achoo” Reebok Pump AXT. Yes, Achoo is the sound you make when you sneeze, but it was also the name of Dave Chappelle’s character in the cult-classic Robin Hood: Men in Tights. A wonderfully random and equally awesome idea to model a sneaker after, this clean Pump is colored up to resemble Achoo’s wardrobe when he’s introduced into the film. And the interesting way EB decided which silo to collab on? In the movie, there is a fight scene in which Chappelle’s Achoo calls time out, and stops to pump up his Reeboks before resuming the medieval brawl. See? Sometimes this stuff figures itself out!

BAIT

Sneaker: BAIT x Saucony Shadow 6000 “Blue Apple”
Year: 2012

If you haven’t already noticed, Southern Cali’s BAIT has been putting out some fire collabs in recent years. But, one you thing you might have missed, is that most of them come in a variation of their signature BAIT colorways: blue (B), apple (A), ivory (I), and tan (T). Their first collab, this banger with Saucony, on the classic Shadow 6000, was dubbed the “Blue Apple.” Designed as an homage to the original ‘bait,’ the Garden of Eden’s forbidden fruit, this Saucony is a real head-turner.

Packer Shoes

Sneaker: Packer Shoes x Reebok Pump “20th Anniversary”
Year: 2009

It’s crazy to think that it took until 2009 for one of America’s oldest sneaker stores, Packer Shoes, to get their first collaboration, but here we are. Our favorite part of this particular collab is that it also rectifies a long-standing sneaker snub; giving the legendary Dominique Wilkins his own sneaker. Back in ’09, the boys at Packer were tabbed to help Reebok celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pump silo, and did so by giving Nique some much deserved shine. Dialing up a colorway that could’ve easily passed for a signature sneaker, Packer really put it down on this one. It’s just a shame that there were only a scant 31 pairs released to the public.

← Previous Slide Next Slide → Click To Start
Watch Now
Latest Deals on Shoes
adidas-continental-80-off-white-3
adidas Continental 80 Off White/Red-Navy
nike-air-max-98-SE-team-red-gym-red-2
Nike Air Max 98 SE Team Red/Gym Red
adidas-continental-80-black-6
adidas Continental 80 Black/Red-Navy
nike-zoom-fly-SP-white-lucid-green-4
Nike Zoom Fly SP White/Lucid Green
adidas-continental-80-white-1
adidas Continental 80 White/Red-Navy

The 20 Most Stylish Industry Sneakerheads

Packer Shoes

Instagram: @ronniefieg

Even before Kith, Ronnie always had a good eye for quality designs. Now he is applying his love for product, creating his own lines that sell out faster than retro Js. Have you ever worn Bleecker sweats? #CozyBoyz

Dennis Todisco

Instagram: @dennistodisco

Todisco’s name has rang out in the sneaker community for years. A lot of it is talent, but his style and pure enjoyment for having a good time makes him someone that a lot of people look up to.

Upscale Vandal

Instagram: @upscale_vandal

His IG is a hypebeast’s wet dream, nothing but fire kicks and attire that you save up for months to get.

Ronnie Fieg

Instagram: @ronniefieg

Even before Kith, Ronnie always had a good eye for quality designs. Now he is applying his love for product, creating his own lines that sell out faster than retro Js. Have you ever worn Bleecker sweats? #CozyBoyz

John Geiger

Instagram: @johngeiger_

Geiger took his opportunity as Darrelle Revis’ business manager and has made the most out of it. He helped Revis land a signature sneaker that was wildly underrated. One look at Geiger’s IG and you can see his influence on that shoe’s design, and why clothing designers and sneaker brands are just excited to work with the business manager as much as Revis. Blessed.

Emily Oberg

Instagram: @emilyelaineoberg

As soon as she popped up on ComplexTV, everyone was like “Who is that girl?” Her IG profile pretty much sums it up, ‘sporty & rich.’ Emily has executed the athletic and upscale perfectly and continues to gain more reach and fans organically. Stay woke, we have a feeling she is bound to keep rising.

DJ Clark Kent

Instagram: @djclarkkent

Not everything is skinny jeans and six layers of longer shirts. Clark Kent represents one of the greatest times in sneakers and hip-hop, and you have to appreciate how his style continuously reflects what made both lanes so popular. God’s favorite DJ also happens to be a tastemaker.

Frank The Butcher

Instagram: @FrankTheButcher

Anything but a hypebeast, The Butcher is known for rocking the originals and honoring what made the sneaker game what it is today. He is batting .1000 with his sneaker collabs and his BAU line also has some crazy heat.

Marcus Troy

Instagram: @marcustroy

Being a lifestyle media consultant sounds like everyone’s dream job, but few can carry it like Marcus Troy. Everything about homie’s style is lavish and original, no stunting, just doing what he does best.

Mellany Sanchez

Instagram: @mellany_sanchez

The Creative Director at Kith is the reason all these girls are out here making sweats and crop tops look really good.

RegularOlTy

Instagram: @regularolty

No hypebeast moves, Ty can flip a JC Penny hoodie and make it look fly. One of the realest and most original guys in the sneaker game, Ty’s sample size 9 luck also allows him to get a lot of great shoes before you even knew they existed.

Vashtie

Instagram: @vashtie

We once read a comment that said Vashtie was like the Beyonce of the sneaker world. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Jacob Keller

Instagram: @jacobjkeller

Most people on YouTube giving ‘style’ advice just throw together outlandish popular brands and tell you to run with it. Keller is that guy we actually trust to be our fashion consigliere.

Lawrence Schlossman

Instagram: @sartoriallyinc

Style writers are typically pretentious nerds, but Lawrence is actually someone who can dress well and crack you up…very rare. His Fashion Bros. franchise is arguably one of the greatest things on the web and his IG is laced with style moves you want to jack. Must. Follow.

Rick Williams

Instagram: @rickwlms

Burn Rubber’s de facto boss proves that there is actual style in the Midwest outside of Chicago. Whether its his fire alphets or designing collabs for his brand, Rick Williams continues to impress at such a humble rate.

Joe La Puma

Instagram: @jlp8

The Director of Content Strategy at Complex has been influencing the masses for a minute. His blend of upscale attire and streetwear is on the level of rappers like Pharrell. C’mon, even E! did a feature on his style.

Rob Garcia

Instagram: @noirrob

When GQ dons you one of the best designers in America, you’re doing something right. The king of En Noir made leather sweats more popular than ‘Ye and his all-black everything look is timeless.

Curtis Coltrane

Instagram: @coltranecurtis

The man behind Team Epiphany is on his grown man shit and kind of makes everyone in Been Trill look foolish. No obnoxious branding and ill-fitted attire, Coltrane makes the essentials look dope.

Wendy Nitrolicious

Instagram: @nitro_licious

Wendy’s sneaker game might actually put yours to shame and instead of pairing it with thot fits and corny matching sneaker tees, she blends in streetwear, while still giving off a grown-woman vibe. Very rare.

Anna Bediones

Instagram: @atothebed

Anna started from the bottom, now she’s here. In a few years she has blown up thanks to various features and contributing to sites like Complex, Finish Line, and Sneaker Report. Anna’s tech fashion look is flawless and her following continues to rise as she gains notoriety for her style.

Easy Otabor

Instagram: @easyotabor

Odds are you have heard of RSVP Gallery from everyone in Kanye’s clique and Easy is the man holding down the team. The shop is a staple in Chicago for everyone that messes with retros and Balmain jeans and having some great connects doesn’t hurt his own personal style. Red Octobers on fleek.

← Previous Slide Next Slide → Click To Start
Watch Now
Latest Deals on Shoes
adidas-continental-80-off-white-3
adidas Continental 80 Off White/Red-Navy
nike-air-max-98-SE-team-red-gym-red-2
Nike Air Max 98 SE Team Red/Gym Red
adidas-continental-80-black-6
adidas Continental 80 Black/Red-Navy
nike-zoom-fly-SP-white-lucid-green-4
Nike Zoom Fly SP White/Lucid Green
adidas-continental-80-white-1
adidas Continental 80 White/Red-Navy

The 25 People In Sneakers With The Most Longevity

Easy Otabor

Importance: Designer/Founder, Kith

A lot of Ronnie Fieg’s newer fans aren’t aware of the long road he’s taken to get where he is today. Long before Kith was one of the finest sneaker shops in the world, Ronnie was a retail buyer for NY footwear purveyor David Z. RF’s ascendance to NY footwear royalty is the perfect example of how hard work prepares you to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself. Not only is Ronnie’s hustle an inspiration (seriously, dude never stops working), but he’s almost single-handedly brought numerous footwear brands into the consciousness of US buyers. It’s bigger than Asics. Trust.

DJ Clark Kent

Importance: DJ, Sneaker Connoisseur, Designer

Most people know DJ Clark Kent for the beautiful “112” colorway that has graced numerous iconic Nike silos. Or, perhaps they know him as the co-host of ComplexTV’s Quickstrike show, or from putting together one of the great friends-and-family releases the LeBron line has ever seen in the form of the “James Dean” 8s. But, Kent’s sneaker legacy goes far beyond those formidable mentions. An early pioneer of the NY sneaker movement, Kent has become somewhat of an unofficial ambassador of the “Uptown”, or Nike Air Force 1. Not only that, but he helped launch Nike and 21 Mercer’s infamous Bespoke program. What we’re trying to say is; DJ Clark Kent is the man.

Eddie Cruz/James Bond

Importance: Founders/Owners, Undefeated/Union LA

You may not be familiar with the names Eddie Cruz and James Bond (no, not that James Bond). But let us tell you, they’re an integral part of the West Coast’s sneaker movement. Cruz and Bond co-founded LA staple Undefeated, along with the high-end Union LA. Now, we don’t have to tell you how big UNDFTD has gotten over the years. From their highly-rare and coveted Air Jordan collab, to team ups with Bape, adidas and Converse, UNDFTD has come a long way since it’s 2002 inception. And, with the market penetration and brand name recognition they’ve achieved over the years, UNDFTD shows no signs of slowing down.

Gary Warnett

Importance: Writer/Sneaker Historian

Gary Warnett is something of an old sage in the sneaker world. You’d be painting with a broad brush to simply call him a “writer.” No, Warnett, with his encyclopedic knowledge of sneakers (and hip-hop), embodies the term “historian” perhaps better than any other person we can think of. And, he’s also dabbled, fairly successfully, in some sneaker design as well. Long affiliated with London-based retailer Crooked Tongues, Warnett’s writing has been featured everywhere from Nike to Kith product launches. Basically, if a company wants their product to “read” as cool as it looks, they call Gary Warnett.

Gentry Humphrey

Importance: Product Creator, Nike Sportswear

If you’ve ever wondered how a brand like Jordan can understand their customers, perhaps better than any other brand in the world, it’s because of people like Gentry Humphrey. Humphrey was a part of the formative years at Jordan Brand, and helped shape what we know and love (or love/hate) about JB today. They even call him Mr. Jordan Brand. And as the GM of Jordan Brand, he maybe had the dream job of countless sneakerheads, Gentry has since moved on to head up product creation at NSW (Nike Sportswear). Which is why now, even more than in years past, you see NSW putting out that fire. We know we’re not the only ones who can’t wait to see what Gentry cooks up next.

Hiroshi Fujiwara

Importance: Designer, Fragment Design & Nike HTM

If you know nothing of Hiroshi Fujiwara, all you need to know is that he’s the “H” in HTM. But beyond that, he’s been dubbed the “Godfather of Street” because of his role in influencing the streetwear movement in Japan. Back in the day, Fujiwara was a DJ who helped bring hip-hop and streetwear to the masses in Japan. But nowadays, he’s one of the most respected fashion designers in the world (not just sneakers). From Supreme to Visvim, Fragment and Neighborhood, to Kangol, Levis and Oakley, Hiroshi has a hand in many things in today’s game. This guy is a true OG.

James Jebbia

Importance: Founder, Supreme

If James Jebbia is a name that sounds familiar to you, that’s because it should. After helping to open streetwear staples Union NYC and Stussy NYC, Jebbia went on to found a little company by the name of Supreme. Now, we know that Supreme is a love it or hate it brand. But to be honest, Supreme has had a crazy amount of influence on today’s sneaker world. From the early days of skate videos and low-key collabs, to today’s insane hype-driven sneaker releases, Supreme seems to be an unstoppable force in the sneaker world. And it’s all (or, mostly) because of James Jebbia.

Jeff Staple

Importance: Founder, Staple Design & Reed Space

Most of us know Jeff Staple for his legendary “Pigeon” colorway that has graced the silhouette of some of the sneaker world’s most iconic kicks. But Jeff Staple is more than just a sneaker designer, he’s a mini-mogul. His company Staple Design has had a hand in everything from footwear and clothing to design and art for the likes of Gap, HBO and Levis. And in 2002, he also opened Reed Space, one of NYC’s finest retail shop/art galleries. We’ve loved watching Staple, as his brand continues to grow and are super excited for what the future holds.

Kobe Bryant

Importance: Shooting Guard, Los Angeles Lakers; Nike Basketball Signature Sneaker Line

Of course we all know who Kobe Bryant, aka, the Black Mamba is. But thinking in the abstract, have you ever thought about what his legacy in the sneaker game is? Sure, we’re all familiar with his excellent Nike signature line. But what about his ground-breaking adidas line? What does the future hold for Kobe and his kicks? As one of the more popular athletes in the world (seriously, dude is a gawd in China), what will his footwear legacy be? Sure, we’re looking forward to seeing more excellent stuff from Nike, like the surprising super-high Kobe 9 Elite. But, we’re super stoked for the future of the Kobe brand. Can you say retro?

Mark Parker

Importance: CEO, Nike, Inc.

As Nike’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Parker likely needs no introduction. But, his longevity and influence on sneakers has been, perhaps, more dominant and wide-ranging than any other person on this list. Joining Nike in 1979 as a footwear designer, Parker has been influential in building what has become the most valuable sports brand in the world. And, if that weren’t enough, he still keeps pumping out those gorgeous HTM designs. We’re still hoping to track a few of those babies down.

Masta Lee

Importance: Designer/Media Director, Patta

DJ Masta Lee may not be a name that a lot of us are familiar with. But, if you know who or what Patta is, you’re familiar with Lee’s work. As designer and Media Director for the legendary Dutch brand, Masta Lee has been instrumental in bringing some of the most coveted sneaker collabs of all time to market. Seriously, Patta is a heavyweight. And, with a resume like that, why wouldn’t you be excited for what’s to come?

LeBron James

Importance: Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers; Nike Basketball Signature Sneaker Line

Ah, LeBron James. Of course, as Nike’s flagship athlete, LBJ was deemed heir to the Nike throne before he even had an NBA team, much less played in an actual game. And, while the weight of the crown may be heavy, James has carried it with a level of poise and energy, the likes of which has never been seen. As the popularity and his global brand continue to grow, we’re very ecstatic to watch what the future holds for LeBron and his kicks. And, basically, we can’t wait to get a shot at some of those inevitable Nike retros too.

Matt Halfhill

Importance: Founder, Nice Kicks

Matt Hafhill is one of the sneaker world’s good guys. From founding what is now one of the most-read sneaker websites in the entire world, to designing some of the cleanest NBs in recent memory, Matt might not be the oldest OG on this list, but his influence on the sneaker world is no less significant. Back when Nice Kicks started in 2006, it was really difficult to get concrete information on upcoming sneaker releases. Nice Kicks has become that resource. And much of that is due to Matt Halfhill and his team’s grind. Very recently, Halfhill announced that he’s passing the Editor-in-Chief reigns of Nice Kicks to one of NKs most familiar names, George Kiel, but you can bet you’ll still hear from him frequently, whether on radio or as a go-to source for any number of ‘sneakerhead’ related stories in the mainstream press.

Michael Dupouy/Julien Cahn

Importance: Founders, La MJC

The names might not be familiar to you, but perhaps their brand, La MJC might. No? Well, how about those excellent yearly All Gone books, documenting all the major moves in the sneaker/streetwear world each year since 2006. Style and substance, La MJC continues to impress. Not just a book publisher, they’ve also tried their hand at the design side of things, with tremendous success. After collabs with the likes of New Balance, Asics, colette and UNDFTD (just to name a few), you better get familiar with these names. Can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for many years to come.

Michael Jordan

Importance: NBA Hall-of-Famer, Jordan Brand

Seriously, do we even need to write anything here? Your footwear closet would never have been the same if it weren’t for Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Perhaps the single most important signature athlete in the history of sneakers, MJ is, and likely always will be, the greatest.

Mike Packer

Importance: Owner, Packer Shoes

Okay, so Mike Packer hasn’t actually owned Packer Shoes since 1907. But, as a third generation Packer, he was involved for years before taking official ownership in 2011. We also couldn’t help putting that 1907 date up there to illustrate just how remarkable a feat that is in a sneaker world where brick-and-mortar shops are constantly going the way of the dinosaurs. But the boys (now located) in Teaneck, NJ, know how to run a proper footwear shop. And, not only does he own one of the oldest footwear stores in the country, but as Executive VP of Ewing Athletics, Mike Packer has also been instrumental in the revival of the beloved Ewing brand. That’s a busy man!

Nigo

Importance: Founder, A Bathing Ape; Creative Director, UNIQLO UT Collection; adidas Endorser

Many don’t realize that Nigo’s A Bathing Ape has been around since 1993(!), but it’s true. Initially started as a small streetwear company in Japan, it wasn’t until they released the Bapesta in ’93, that they really started making waves. What was essentially a ripoff of the Air Force 1, the Bapesta had Nike execs spinning. And, while Nigo and Bape put their own spin on the silo with neck-breaking colorways and stupid-awesome collabs, Nike found out that their patents on the silo’s design weren’t as airtight as they thought. And of course, after teaming up with some kid named Pharrell, on brands like BBC and Ice Cream, it was all over. Today, Nigo continues to pump out top-notch menswear through his own label Human Made. But it was his recent signing with adidas that has us really excited. We can’t wait to see what Nigo’s next line of sneakers are going to look like.

Paul Ruffles

Importance: Managing Director, size?, Foot Patrol

With all the heat dropping stateside, we often lose track of all the good stuff dropping over in the EU. And, as the Managing Director for UK heavyweights size? and Footpatrol, Paul Ruffles has been instrumental in shaping the UK footwear scene. After a turn at UK athletic retail giant JD Sports, PRuffs slid on over to help establish size? and Footpatrol as the leaders of footwear culture in the UK. Not only are size? and Footpatrol some of the finest sneaker shops the Brits have to offer, but their sneaker design portfolio, particularly in recent years, has been ridiculous. It’s not just that they’ve put out crazy collabs like last year’s “Urban Safari” series (seriously, those Huaraches are amazing), but they’ve been able to convince folks like Nike to bring some old gems out of the vault for retro. Oh, you love those AM93s you just copped? Thanks PRuffs!

Pharrell

Importance: Musician; Co-Founder BBC and Ice Cream Labels; adidas Endorser

Sure, Pharrell has been making hot music since the early ’90s (seriously, he helped make “Rumpshaker” for Wreckx-n-Effect all the way back in 1992!). But it wasn’t until he teamed up with Japanese style icon, Nigo, in 2005 to found both Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, that Pharrell turned his hustle to the sneaker world. Perhaps one of the hardest working people in entertainment today, Skateboard P seemingly never stops hustling. And, if you’ve been paying attention to his work with adidas lately, his fingerprints are still all over the sneaker game…even in 2014. Respect.

Ronnie Fieg

Importance: Designer/Founder, Kith

A lot of Ronnie Fieg’s newer fans aren’t aware of the long road he’s taken to get where he is today. Long before Kith was one of the finest sneaker shops in the world, Ronnie was a retail buyer for NY footwear purveyor David Z. RF’s ascendance to NY footwear royalty is the perfect example of how hard work prepares you to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself. Not only is Ronnie’s hustle an inspiration (seriously, dude never stops working), but he’s almost single-handedly brought numerous footwear brands into the consciousness of US buyers. It’s bigger than Asics. Trust.

Russ Bengtson

Importance: Complex, Senior Staff Writer; SLAM EiC Emeritus

You might know Russ Bengtson as one of the faces of ComplexTV’s popular Quickstrike show (hint, he’s the one with the wicked grizzly beard). But beard-farming aside, Russ is a true sneaker writing OG. Before becoming a senior writer and host with Complex, Russ was a founding contributor over at SLAM magazine, and even led the charge on their special KICKS edition. You won’t find many better sneaker (and basketball) writers than Bengtson.

Simon "Woody" Wood

Importance: Founder/Editor, Sneaker Freaker

Simon “Woody” Wood may not be a household name to the average sneakerhead. But we assure you, his influence and longevity in this game cannot be understated. In a world where printed publications are vanishing faster than Jordans fly off NDC, it’s crazy-refreshing to have a top-notch sneaker publication printed and delivered on a consistent basis. And doing it all the way from Australia is an achievement not to be taken lightly. On top of publishing one of the sneaker world’s most consistent magazines, Sneaker Freaker has also dropped some fantastic sneaker collabs. We may have to wake up at (or stay up until) crazy hours to try and cop them, but kicks like the Puma Blaze of Glory “Sharkbait” or “Alvin Purple” Gel Lyte IIIs are totally worth it!

Tinker Hatfield

Importance: Designer, Nike

We all know about Tinker Hatfield’s legendary design portfolio. From all your Air Jordan favorites, to countless Air Max and Nike Running shoes, all the way to today’s crazy-limited HTM collection, Tinker is quite possibly the most important sneaker designer in history. All hail Tinker Hatfield.

Yu-Ming Wu

Importance: Founder/Publisher, FreshnessMag.com, SneakerNews.com, SneakerCon Sneaker Show, JordansDaily.com

You might not think about it all the time, but 2003 is kinda ANCIENT in internet years. And back in ’03, the landscape of sneaker websites was far different than it is today. Which is why Yu-Ming’s site Freshnessmag.com was so special. Not just focusing on sneakers, it covered toys and street culture, perhaps better than any of it’s peers. And, while most sites like these are surpassed by the next latest-and-greatest, Freshnessmag.com continues to be one of the most important sources in sneakers and streetwear, period. It doesn’t end there though as Yu-Ming continued to build his portfolio by founding SneakerNews.com, which he still serves as Editor-in-Chief of, and for an extra feather in the cap, he’s the main man behind one of the best sneaker shows in the country, SneakerCon. It’s definitely safe to say Yu-Ming will be in the sneaker game for quite some time moving forward.

Paul Mittleman

Importance: Global Design Director, adidas Originals; Formerly Creative Director, Stussy

Formerly serving as the creative director at Stussy, and we all know some of the dope footwear collabs they’ve been a part of, Paul Mittleman is currently positioned as the global design director at adidas for the Originals line. While constantly battling the Swoosh for worldwide dominance in the footwear market, adidas’ buzz has seemingly never been hotter and the future is looking extremely promising with the likes of Kanye West and Pharrell now under the adidas umbrella (props have to go to Jon Wexler on those signings as adidas’ Global Director of Entertainment and Influencer Marketing). And while we all await to see what the product will look like exactly, you can best believe Mittleman will be right in the center of it all.

Marc Dolce

Importance: Director, adidas Creative Studio (NYC); Formerly Nike Sportswear (NSW) Global Design Director

Having been with Nike for close to the last decade, Marc Dolce recently announced that he would be leaving The Swoosh for adidas to head up the brand’s new creative studio in Brooklyn. While at Nike, Dolce has design credits for the Penny V, Zoom Rookie and the Lunar Force 1 and his extensive design background and project management within the world of basketball sneakers certainly boasts well for the Three Stripes. If his impressive rise through the ranks at Nike goes in similar fashion at adidas, there is a lot to look forward to from Dolce and company in the next 10 years.

← Previous Slide Next Slide → Click To Start
Watch Now
Latest Deals on Shoes
adidas-continental-80-off-white-3
adidas Continental 80 Off White/Red-Navy
nike-air-max-98-SE-team-red-gym-red-2
Nike Air Max 98 SE Team Red/Gym Red
adidas-continental-80-black-6
adidas Continental 80 Black/Red-Navy
nike-zoom-fly-SP-white-lucid-green-4
Nike Zoom Fly SP White/Lucid Green
adidas-continental-80-white-1
adidas Continental 80 White/Red-Navy

15 Designers/Labels We’d Like To See Get A Jordan Collab

Marc Dolce

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan IV

Can you imagine the hype behind an Air Jordan x Ronnie Fieg collab? So while the hype might scare a few folks off, let’s be real: Ronnie is one of the best in the game, and an AJ x RF collab would be out of this world. We’ve seen RF get down with plenty of varieties of silhouettes, but his work on low tops is pretty unmatchable. Which is why we’ve selected the mid-cut Air Jordan IV as the silo we’d most like to see Ronnie collab on. Can you imagine how sick a “Cove” IV would look? Fire.

Riccardo Tisci

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan I

We love the recent Nike Air Force One collabs with Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci and think his style would look fantastic applied to the legendary Air Jordan I. The only things we don’t like about this idea would be the price tag, and the inevitable line ups.

Saint Laurent

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan I

Saint Laurent already puts out some pretty awesome high-top kicks of their own. And yeah, they may have ‘borrowed’ some inspiration from the Air Jordan I line. But ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ and all, right? That’s why we feel the most appropriate collab for Saint Laurent to get down with would be a “proper” Air Jordan I. You know they already like the silo!

Dover Street Market

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan II

The Dover Street Market x Nike Air Python was one of the best collabs of 2013, and certainly one of our favorites. We’d love to see that same simple, but luxurious style applied to the similarly sized Air Jordan II. We think it’d be a great way to continue the reemergence of what is currently an under appreciated AJ silo.

Concepts

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan III

Without a doubt, Boston-based retailer Concepts is one of the premier sneaker shops in the world, and have dropped some of the best collabs anyone has ever seen (Kennedy’s anyone?). What better silo for the boys from Beantown to tackle than the iconic Air Jordan III? This could be a game-changer.

A.P.C.

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan IV

French brand A.P.C. has steadily assembled an impressive resume of Nike collabs, particularly those excellent Air Max 1 drops. So, you know they love the trainers. Which is why we’d love to see their take on the most “trainer-esque” silhouette in the Jordan Brand stable, the Air Jordan IV. We can’t stop thinking about denim uppers and gumsoles.

Ronnie Fieg

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan IV

Can you imagine the hype behind an Air Jordan x Ronnie Fieg collab? So while the hype might scare a few folks off, let’s be real: Ronnie is one of the best in the game, and an AJ x RF collab would be out of this world. We’ve seen RF get down with plenty of varieties of silhouettes, but his work on low tops is pretty unmatchable. Which is why we’ve selected the mid-cut Air Jordan IV as the silo we’d most like to see Ronnie collab on. Can you imagine how sick a “Cove” IV would look? Fire.

HTM

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan V

Even if you might not actually own many of them, just think back for a second about all the amazing HTM designs that have graced your favorite Nike silhouettes. The combination of Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Parker may be the most powerful and significant union in the entire sneaker industry. Which is why we’d go crazy over an HTM Air Jordan V (as would pretty much every sneakerhead in the world).

Mastermind

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan V

While most of Japanese brand Mastermind’s recent collabs have been of the adidas, three-striped variety, just imagining a Mastermind x Air Jordan collab gets us hyped. Imagine their traditional, high-quality black leather murdering out the iconic Air Jordan V. Perhaps a skull logo somewhere in there…damn, these would go hard.

Kanye West

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan VI

Okay okay, so this one may be a bit far-fetched, considering his current sneaker deal. But, as you all know, sneaker deals do end. And one day Yeezus will be a free agent again, meaning he could (theoretically) get down with JB and Nike again. Love it or hate it, you have to admit; everything Kanye has put his artistic inspiration into thus far in his career is, at the very least, interesting and entertaining to watch. And, we’ve also seen ‘Ye’s affinity for the Air Jordan VI, which is why it’s the silo we’d most like to see him collab on. Pretty sure we just saw someone line up for these already.

DJ Clark Kent

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan VII

DJ Clark Kent’s collabs with Nike are among our very favorite, and the “112” colorway he’s established is spectacular. Now, we know that Clark is more than a one-trick pony, but we can’t stop thinking about how awesome it’d be to see the memorable “112” colorway on an Air Jordan. We think it’d work particularly well on the Air Jordan VII.

A Bathing Ape

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan VIII

BAPE is one of those brands that has collaborated on almost everything under the sun. Almost. What they haven’t hit up, yet anyway, is an Air Jordan. And we think the perfect fit for Bape’s unique style is the equally unique Air Jordan VIII. We know they’ve done camo eight ways from Sunday. But that iconic Bape camo would look amazing on the Jordan 8s lateral paneling in our minds.

Pigalle

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan VIII

Now, Pigalle has recently dropped some very, very dope Nike collabs, so we feel this one is actually not that far-fetched. Especially considering their recent take on the strapped-up Nike Air Raid. So, what better Air Jordan silhouette for Pigalle to go after than the Air Jordan VIII? This could be really dope.

Supreme

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan XI

You know we couldn’t do a collab feature and not include Supreme, the undisputed king of Nike collabs. What we appreciate the most about Supreme is their variety. Not only do they hit up mainstream silhouettes like the Foamposites, with wild style, but they also dip into the vault with the likes of old-school kicks like the Tennis Classics or Bruins. That said, we can think of no other silo that we’d love to see Supreme get down with than the iconic Air Jordan XI. We know, we think just mentioning this proposal broke the internet a little bit. The hype behind this collab could be one for the record books if it ever went down.

size?

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan XII

While UK retailer size? has had an unbelievable run with Nike collabs lately (not to mention excellent work with other brands), they’ve yet to score themselves an Air Jordan collab. And, while it may be a bit far fetched, we absolutely love size?’s style and penchant for old-school trainer colorways. We’d love to see their take on the Air Jordan XII. While there have been some awesome colorways of the XII, it hasn’t seen as many “new” colorways as some of the other AJ silos. These could be epic.

Mark McNairy

Proposed Silhouette: Air Jordan XIV

While Mark McNairy might not be the first name that comes to mind when dreaming up Air Jordan collaborations, we think it could be tremendously successful. Though he’s mostly known for his high-quality dress shoes, we’d love to see McNasty’s vibrantly-colored sole-swapping take place on something like the Air Jordan XIV. We feel like the 14s just have the perfect lines for McNairy’s trademark style.

← Previous Slide Next Slide → Click To Start
Watch Now
Latest Deals on Shoes
adidas-continental-80-off-white-3
adidas Continental 80 Off White/Red-Navy
nike-air-max-98-SE-team-red-gym-red-2
Nike Air Max 98 SE Team Red/Gym Red
adidas-continental-80-black-6
adidas Continental 80 Black/Red-Navy
nike-zoom-fly-SP-white-lucid-green-4
Nike Zoom Fly SP White/Lucid Green
adidas-continental-80-white-1
adidas Continental 80 White/Red-Navy

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Follow Us


    Newsletter

    Size Finder