8 Designers Who Should Collab with Sneaker Brands

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2016

8 Designers Who Should Collab with Sneaker Brands

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    Image courtesy of John Geiger

    Sneaker brands have often relied on outside designers to help influence product. We’ve seen the likes of Raf Simons working with Adidas and Riccardo Tisci put his stamp on a pair of Nike Air Force Ones.

    Designers and brands teaming up has become part of the new normal in sneaker culture. These efforts tend to push the scope of certain kicks and also help create a niche market for consumers who gravitate more toward high-fashion trends.

    We wanted to touch on a handful of designers who should work with brands, starting with high fashion and transitioning into the world of streetwear. Here's the list we created.

Tom Ford

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    Eric Charbonneau/Associated Press

    The chances of seeing Tom Ford create a sneaker with Nike or even Adidas are slim to none at this point. Ford’s current line of men’s clothing also produces super-high quality pieces of footwear.

    However, based on the product he’s currently moving, a Ford collaboration with any major sneaker label would be a beautiful sight to see. Watching his minimalistic approach laid over any classic silhouette—like an Air Force One—is something that would work on a large scale.

    If you check out any of Ford’s current footwear endeavors, you’ll see the use of premium materials and simple designs. It’s why he’s become a staple for all things menswear.

    Transitioning this approach to Nike or Adidas would certainly draw more eyeballs to the product.

Dominic Chambrone

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    Conventional designers aren’t strictly reserved for runways and fashion publications. Take Dominic Chambrone into consideration. More commonly known as The Shoe Surgeon, Chambrone has spent his adult life altering the sneaker industry.

    With 117,000 followers on the visual medium of Instagram, Chambrone has used social media to build a tremendous reputation. His work customizing sneakers ranges from sole swaps to complete deconstruction projects and the creation of his own personal line.

    Though he’s worked with Adidas in the past on projects, Chambrone deserves his own sneaker with a major brand. His lavish design work and craftsmanship need to be seen by a larger, mass-quantity scale.

John Elliott

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    Simple is better. For streetwear designer John Elliott, simple is also a way of life.

    His menswear line, based on uncomplicated cuts, has exploded since its inception in 2014, turning Elliott into a household name. Athletes such as LeBron James, Lewis Hamilton and Carmelo Anthony have all been seen sporting Elliott’s work.

    He even incorporated a custom pair of Nike LeBron 12s into the debut of the latest extension of his fashion line.

    With his clothing already crossing over into sports, a sneaker collab would be a logical next step for this Los Angeles-based designer. As of now, Elliott produces his own shoes, as Matt Sebra of GQ fame mentioned. Hopefully in the future, we will see Elliott take his burgeoning sneaker venture and cross it over a company like Nike.

    If the custom LeBron 12s are a sign of what we can expect, you can definitely sign us up for more Elliot x Nike projects.


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    Not all great designers rely on a philosophy of simplicity to push their work. Just look at Post-Imperial founder Niyi Okuboyejo.

    Okuboyejo’s style features a convoy of distinct colors and patterns. To put it kindly, his clothing line will always announces itself, even in a bustling subway car.

    You look around the sneaker world today, and what you see is signature shoes being imbued with aggressive colorways. Post-Imperial’s flair matches up perfectly with this trend.

    Okuboyejo would be an amazing fit with Kyrie Irving’s signature line or even Kevin Durant's. His style meshes up perfectly with what Nike’s doing creatively from an athletic point of view.

John Geiger

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    If you don’t know who John Geiger is by now, you’re missing out. This guy from Pittsburgh has turned into a sneaker icon, thanks to elite customization work and the creation of his own shoe, dubbed the 001.

    Geiger has done a lot for the industry in a short period. His Misplaced Checks lines, a series derived from brands rejecting his design ideas, turned the sneaker industry into must-see TV.

    Despite working on the launch of his own sneaker, the 001, Geiger has earned the right to work with brands on a collaborative basis. The natural fit would be Nike. Based on Geiger’s Instagram activity and his wardrobe habits, a deal with Nike could provide the Swoosh with a robust, street-smart look from one of the industry’s top design entities.

    It doesn’t matter what company steps up. A John Geiger collab is a must as we turn the page on 2016.

Evan Kinori

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    Witnessing originators within the garment industry infiltrate sneaker culture would be a great way to kick off 2017. Rather than relying on the same patterns and the same use of retro kicks, giving designers outside the industry a chance to take their shots at building something special is what we all need.

    Evan Kinori has been focused on the longevity of garments since the launch of his self-titled brand. His creativity stems from cutting pieces that would have a challenging time going out of style.

    Kinori would be a unique person to pair with any top brand. As a longtime supporter of skate shoes, as he noted to GQ’s Noah Johnson, he already has a feeling for what shapes the industry.

    Based on his personal work, it’s safe to say Kinori’s own sneaker wouldn’t rely on trends. Instead, it would focus on survival through the years. His way of thinking seems like a great fit for a collaboration with Jordan Brand—a Nike division built on its heritage.

Hedi Slimane

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    We’ve already seen what former Yves Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane can do with sneakers. Saint Laurent’s low-top kicks have remained a staple of the company’s ongoing vision and have been worn by the likes of Kyrie Irving.

    Like Tisci or even Simons, Slimane, now a free agent himself, should take his talents and work on a collaborative project with one of the major hitters in sneaker culture. His lingering vision for immersing the Saint Laurent brand with subcultures and streetwear is a natural working fit with any of the top sneaker companies.

    Seeing Slimane put his mark on an Air Jordan I, Adidas Ultra Boost or even a Nike Air Max would make for a must-wear, ultra-noir sneaker.

Greg Chait

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    Cashmere. It’s not only George Costanza’s passion in Seinfeld; it’s also a material used by the hyper-gifted designer, Greg Chait.

    Chait has built a brand on the back of cashmere, as he explained to Dena Silver of the Observer, creating pillow cases, sleeping bags, jackets and more with the material. Out of all the designers talked about so far, Chait would be the one person who would properly bring cashmere into the fold.

    Can you imagine a LeBron sneaker dosed in cashmere? How about Durant’s latest shoe? Seeing Chait’s cashmere work bless the sneaker realm would make for some extremely dope, but pricey, winter kicks.