Best Foot Forward

Vans and Converse, not to mention Nike and its Jordan brand, Puma, Adidas, and the like, are among most active partners in the world of collaborations, as they try to feed the near-insatiable demand from sneaker collectors and other fans for new and unexpected designs. Less widely recognized on a mainstream scale, but still very frequent participants in collaborative efforts, are several other well-known brands of shoes, often with retro appeal.

For instance:

  • Havaianas, the Brazilian flip-flop brand, currently is touting its pairings with Dutch streetwear brand Daily Paper, Danish fashion label Rotate, and L.A. streetwear brand Market. It also has a collection of shoes with Swarovski and a line of products featuring Disney and Star Wars characters and designs.
  • Clarks Originals’ Wallabee brand has paired this year with luxury label Moncler, Japanese fashion brands Neighborhood and Magic Stick, Korean label thisisneverthat, Kith founder Ronnie Fieg, Pokémon, and others. Several of its recent offerings were follow-ups to earlier collections with the same collaborators.
  • Some of Crocs’ recent partnerships, of many, include 7-Eleven, designer Salehe Bembury, New York-based fashion label Staple, Disney’s Cars, Tokyo-based label Mastermind, sock brand Stance, rapper Saweetie, fashion label Lazy Oath, singer SZA, and Vogue.
  • Among the brands Doc Martens has worked with lately include The National Gallery, on shoes inspired by artists Seurat and Monet; Japanese labels Engineered Garments and AAPE; London jewelry brand The Great Frog; and Betty Boop.
  • Birkenstock has collaborated with a number of luxury fashion labels, with recent examples ranging from Proenza Schouler, Rick Owens, and Valentino Garavani, to Manolo Blahnik and Jil Sander.
  • Ugg’s recent pairings have included American artist Tschabalala Self, designer label Denim Tears, New York-based unisex label Telfar, womenswear designer Molly Goddard, Chinese apparel designer Feng Chen Wang, French artist Claire Tabouret, and many more.

As is the case with the more widely known sneaker collaborations, these collections—which involve partners from all over the globe—offer the shoe brands lots of creative inspiration and a strong marketing and publicity hook. Most are limited collections that tend to sell out quickly, adding a sense of urgency for loyal customers to purchase another pair.

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