Our Favorite Sneaker Collabs for Every Collector
Sneakers are the perfect canvas for customization and collaboration. At Sotheby’s, our Streetwear & Modern Collectibles team specializes in curating the best of the best: unique sneaker collabs that live up to the hype and stand the test of time. Since the birth of sneakerhead culture in the mid-1980s, iconic designs by Nike, Adidas and others have been reinterpreted and reimagined in countless shoe collabs. Artists, musicians, luxury brands and boutique retailers have all gotten in on the action, creating some of the most sought-after footwear on the market. Read on to discover our 9 favorite sneaker collabs to cop now, selected by the experts on our Streetwear & Modern Collectibles team.
1 | Adidas Chanel x Pharrell Human Race NMD
These ultra-rare Chanel sneakers dropped in 2017 as part of the sneaker collab between Pharrell Williams and Adidas. Made in extremely limited quantities, the Chanel Pharrell shoes were released exclusively at the famed retailer Colette in Paris, and sold out almost immediately. Pharrell and Adidas began collaborating in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the duo launched their most recognizable design: the Adidas NMD Human Race, with Primeknit uppers and Boost midsoles. For these Chanel Pharrell shoes, Adidas and Pharrell teamed up with the legendary French fashion house to put a luxury spin on the Adidas NMD silhouette. Featuring black uppers emblazoned with the words CHANEL and PHARRELL in large white lettering, these Chanel sneakers are unmistakable.
2 | Nike Air Jordan 1 x OFF-WHITE Retro High OG
Virgil Abloh’s signature styling defines these Europe-exclusive Jordan Off Whites from the highly sought after sneaker collab. The visionary Off-White creator’s partnership with Nike began in 2017 with “The Ten” collection, and produced some of the most coveted Nike collab shoes of all time. A fresh take on the classic Air Jordan 1, these Off White Jordan 1s feature a white, blue and orange colorway, deconstructed Swoosh and OFF-WHITE branding throughout. Coming hot off the heels of the ‘Chicago’ and ‘UNC’ Jordan Off White editions, this 2018 release is the rarest of the three Off White Jordan 1 colorways.
3| Nike Air Jordan 3 Retro SP Fragment
The Air Jordan 3 —featuring ‘Visible Air’ and the iconic Jumpman logo on the tongue—gets a sleek, minimalist treatment in this shoe collab between Jordan Brand and Hiroshi Fujiwara’s design label, Fragment Design. Fujiwara, known as the godfather of the Ura-Harajuku fashion scene, first collaborated with Jordan Brand in 2014. For the eagerly awaited 2020 follow-up, Fujiwara dresses the Jordan 3 Retro in white tumbled leather; black leather overlays, embossed with the Fragment lightning bolt logo, replace the typical Air Jordan 3 Elephant print. Translucent Jumpman logos overlay Fragment branding on the heels, while the colorway, style code and release date are printed on the white midsole.
4 | Nike 1World x Michael Lau Air Crazy Force 1
For the 1World sneaker collab project, Nike enlisted 18 style makers from around the world to each put their unique spin on the iconic Air Force 1. The ninth pair in the series, these white Air Force 1s are the brainchild of Hong Kong-based toy designer Michael Lau. The Nike collab shoes are packed with whimsical details: white leather uppers feature a quilted cross-stitched pattern and are adorned with five count scrawls on the heel to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Air Force 1. Lau’s lucky number “10190330” is printed on the tongue of these white Air Force 1s, and dubraes that read “Crazy” on the left and “Smiles” on the right nod to the designer’s toy production company Crazy Smiles.
5 | Nike KAWS x Air Jordan 4 Retro
One of our favorite shoe collabs, the Jordan 4 KAWs marks the first (but hopefully, not the last!) collaboration between Jordan Brand and legendary street artist KAWS. The 2017 release was so hotly anticipated that it nearly started a riot—a London raffle for the Jordan 4 KAWS had to be shut down by police. Featuring uppers and midsoles dressed in premium gray suede, this Jordan 4 Retro definitely lives up to the hype: KAWS’ distinctive Mickey Mouse-inspired glove graphics adorn the insoles, outsoles and uppers, along with his signature ‘XX’ on the heel tab.
6 | Nike Dunk Low Cactus Plant Flea Market Pure Platinum
Designed in collaboration with the LA-based streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market and Swarovski, these Nike Dunk Lows deliver an opulent take on the classic silhouette. Creating a flashy, disco ball-like effect, every inch of the suede upper is studded in Swarovski crystals, including the detachable double lace flaps and heavily padded tongue. The oversized Swoosh on these Nike Dunk Lows is a call back to the 2019 Cactus Plant Flea Market x Nike Blazer sneaker collab.
7 | Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro x Union Off Noir
Following the success of their 2018 Air Jordan 1 shoe collab, Los Angeles-based streetwear boutique Union LA teamed up with Nike once again on this Air Jordan 4 Retro. A reimagining of the classic silhouette, the Jordan 4 Retro is dressed in black suede with breathable blue mesh on the collar and black mesh on the toe box. Taking cues from an original sketch by famed Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, these Jordan 4 Retros also feature semi-translucent TPU wings to provide structural support. A yellow Union tab on the lateral quarter panel, black heel tab with Nike branding, and a red woven Air Jordan tag atop the folded-over tongue finish the look.
8 | Nike Air Force 1 PlayStation
These limited-edition PlayStation Air Force 1 shoes are the result of a 2006 sneaker collab between Sony’s PlayStation and Nike. Created to celebrate the release of the PlayStation 3 console, only 150 pairs of these super-exclusive Nike collab shoes were produced, each with their own unique ‘serial number.’ The Nike Air Force 1 shoes were gifted to select friends and family at Sony and Nike, including Kobe Bryant, who served as the face of the Sony-exclusive “NBA” video game franchise. The PlayStation Air Force 1 features uppers in black patent leather and matte leather, with an embroidered Playstation logo on the heel. Purple laces were added as a nod to PlayStation’s signature color.
9 | Nike Dunk Mid Social Status Strawberry Milk
We love this shoe collab between Nike and James Whitner’s sneaker boutique Social Status, not just for the strawberry milk-inspired color palette, but for its meaningful social message. Part of the ‘Free Lunch’ pack, these Nike Dunks were released alongside a twin ‘chocolate milk’ colorway–together evoking the beverages that accompany federally-funded free lunches, like the ones that Whitner himself relied on as a child. Like so many of Whitner’s undertakings, the 2021 release aimed to create a lasting impact: coinciding with the drop, the Pittsburgh-native also remodeled Social Status’ East Liberty location to include spaces for social and educational programming at the front of the store. These strawberry milk Nike Dunks feature an ‘ingredient list’ that describes the composition of the sneaker, nodding to the school lunch theme.