LIMITED EDITION: Kicks for Fiends

When sneaker fiends go hunting for the next exclusive shoe that will set them apart from the pack, these days they’re not just looking for fancy footwear. They’re looking for the ultimate kick experience that goes beyond the blend of street culture and high fashion, and exclusivity.

Words: Jeremy Clayton

Stapled in time, as one of the true pioneers of this effortless synthesis of street and couture, is Yohji Yamamoto. Known for his avant-garde sensibilities, Yamamoto’s contributions to Adidas over the years ushered in the future much sooner than we expected. Sure, we saw Jean Paul Gaultier, Donna Karan, Christian Dior and a few others try their hand at reconstructing the trainer for style conscious street walkers. But no one has ever been as consistent as Yamamoto in his unique way of appealing to both sides of the fashion world, while creating a functional shoe that works both on and off the runway.

The elegance and chic “Mojo Highs” and the progressive workings of the “Honja Lows” have been Yamamoto’s signature kicks despite their contrast. As 2011 marks the anniversary of the famed designer’s groundbreaking sportswear line, which houses his collection of sneakers, recent whispers of a fledging empire have been quickly hushed. The release of the latest “Honja High” goes beyond questions of aesthetic or preference. The alluring turquoise outsole and light brown, pig leather remind us that Y-3 is a force, with no plan to abort their forward-thinking mission anytime soon. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their collaboration with Adidas, Yamamoto has created the ultimate, exclusive collection for fans. Equally athletic, the signature collab will be limited to 300 per style worldwide.

The man quietly known as Martin Margiela can most likely be attributed for feeding footwear to the high-end world of fashion design. While Margiela manages to keep a low profile, his footwear never does. The Belgian designer has become virtually untouchable, having been linked to Hermes, Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garcons and Raf Simons for crafting their incomparable wears. And despite the controversy that others actually designed his line while he took on the role of a creative consultant, his brand continues to edge forward and ignite consumers of fashion all the same.

At the peak of high top trends, the house of Margiela became most known for signature cut out silhouettes, beige hints and gum soles. While the brand’s “Replica” ankle boots and sneakers stay well within the boundaries of a reserved audience, that—and his affinity for tonal colors and fine details— may be just lure for supreme sneaker lovers. Still Margiela’s sneakers cut across class and culture, while telling his impermeable story. The sturdy calfskin leathers, brown suedes and high laces of the high top “Chain”, Margiela’s latest offering for Spring/Summer 2011, simply shuts the game down.

American fashion designer Jeremy Scott has been touted as “the outrageous designer that makes it all come together.” Taking over the pop and celebrity world one teddy bear infused sneaker at a time, Scott is known for transcending the overall layout of footwear design period. His trends are unique and distinguishable and he was even praised by fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. And we are sure that Scott’s designs for Adidas Originals will forever be cemented in fashion history.

Between graphic art and winged sneakers, Scott’s collections blow us away and never cease to amaze us. Using pandas, bones, safari prints and shimmering wings, Jeremy Scott’s craze continues this season. The “Teddy Bear” sneakers are now featured in a pink colorway, while the infamous “Wings” originals come in glow in the dark and clear.

Pierre Hardy is the French designer behind the ever-so ingenious and eponymous brand that leads the exclusivity wave. His pantone friendly sneaker designs first made impact in the late 2000’s, and have managed to stay atop the list in sneaker collectors’ minds. Whether it is his use of optical illusions, vibrant splashes of ultraviolet or his clever way of incorporating patterns into his design, Hardy never stops at functionality alone. The patterned “Colorama” and “Blockorama” sneakers have become a Hardy classic every season. Of course, distributed in limited numbers, both styles are plastered with artistic etchings and cubed prints. But there are a variety of uppers that set Hardy’s sneakers aside from other high end trends, like his use of velcro straps.

Hardy’s high top sneakers have also been popularized because of their abnormal framework. For Spring/Summer Hardy unveils an adapted version of his “Mid-Cut” sneaker. The light brown suede scales on top of a cream outsole provide just enough breathing room for the foot. The grey “Fleece” sneaker continues to grow in demand, while slowly becoming a staple in the French footwear designer’s mix. Accented with fabric and an ankle zipper dropping down to the outsole, Pierre Hardy also transforms versions of desert boots for the upcoming summer.

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