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The Evolution of… Unconventional Sneakers

Unconventional Sneakers

Throughout the years countless sneakers have been released pushing the boundaries of practicality and wearability. While some are straight up questionable, a fair few aim to innovate the functionality or aesthetics of footwear for the better. 

Take the famous Nike Mag for example. First introduced in the 1989 cult classic Back To The Future Part II, the sneaker saw an extremely limited release in 2011 and again in 2016, with the 2016 release featuring the iconic autonomous lacing system as seen in the movie. The shoe is highly regarded as one of the rarest sneakers and most iconic of all time.

Similarly with origins in cinema, the Reebok Alien Stomper is an often underappreciated piece of footwear. Worn by Sigourney Weaver in the 1986 sci-fi blockbuster Aliens, the boot was designed solely for the film by Reebook themselves. Designed in the 80s to depict what a futuristic space-boot would look like, the silhouette first saw public release in April 2016, in honour of the Alien Day celebration. 

Another shoe which pushed new technology was the DaDa Supreme Spinner. Innovating form rather than function, the sneaker was inspired by chrome spinner rims popular in the late 90s to early 2000s. The eye-catching sneaker featured a clean colour-block silhouette with miniature spinner rims on the side activated by a pressure sensitive system located in the heel.

One of the first to push the unconventional to modern sneakers is none other than Jeremy Scott. The creative director of Moschino and owner of his namesake label has had a longtime partnership with industry giant adidas, releasing several shoes throughout the years all with the signature design language Scott has become known for. One release of significant notability would be the JS Bear Original, first released in 2011 the sneaker featured an all fur upper with a teddy bear acting as the silhouettes tongue.

Another one of Jeremy Scott’s most popular silhouettes is the JS Wings line of sneakers. First released in 2008 alongside JS Bears, the winged sneakers received early endorsement from rappers such as Lil Wayne, helping to gain Scott mass appeal.  The winged sneakers have since seen several iterations across the years, once more spotted on the most popularly rappers at the time, most recently being A$AP Rocky who was spotted wearing the JS Wings 2.0 in his “Purple Swag” music video and eventually prompting Scott to create the JS Wings 2.0 Black flag, inspired by Rocky himself.

Again, ditching practicality for complete absurdity are Kerwin Frost’s ventures with adidas. Following in his idol Jeremy Scott’s footsteps, Frost’s collaborations with the brand are just as if not even more eccentric. Recently teased was his take on the adidas Forum High,  consisting of the retro silhouette, removable long blonde hair, cartoonish facial features and teeth acting as a mudguard. The shoe is very strange but exactly what you’d expect from Kerwin Frost.

Going back to Nike, their efforts with Tom Sachs have spawned one of the most iconic releases in recent years. In 2012 the artist came together with Nike to create the Nike Mars Yard which saw widespread popularity, Sachs would team up with Nike once again in 2017 to release the Nike Mars Yard Overshoe. Perhaps one of Nike’s most futuristic shoes to date, the shoe builds upon the previous Nike Mars Yard 2.0 with a plethora of technical detailing. While an original Mars Yard sneaker sits inside, the shoe is wrapped in waterproof Dyneema shroud, alongside adjustable pull tabs, an adjustable fit as well as countless other features signature to Tom Sachs’s designs.

In collaboration with Japanese fashion label Comme De Garcons, the Nike AF1 was selected as part of the Homme plus category. Released in 2017 Comme Des Garcon placed dinosaur plastic imprints on the front of the shoe both on the lows and hi’s of the AF1. The dinosaur moulds were designed by American Artist Scott Hove. Retailing for £325 the collaborative effort saw a mixed reception for its price point, among other things.

YEEZY 450. Where do you even start? The shoe that looks like Venom had a go at it. The Yeezy 450 is arguably one of the most unconventional looking sneakers to come out in the last few years. Having been teased by Kanye for years now, the hyper aggressive silhouette finally saw the light of day earlier this year, released with a primeknit upper in a signature Yeezy “Cloud White”, which was later followed up by a “Dark Slate” colourway in June.

There have been countless other unconventional sneaker releases across the years and this barely scratches the surface. But with so many of them about and a fair few of them seeing widespread popularity, it poses the question: are they really that unconventional after all?