With the seemingly unstoppable rise of the luxury sneaker phenomenon, we examine some of the world's most notable high-fashion designs, and the original designs to which they pay tribute to.
Fashion is a trickle-down world: just look at the dissemination of ideas from the catwalk down to mall retailers, or the effect your favorite influencers have on their legions of followers. What's curious about the past few years is that we have seen somewhat of a reversal of this trend, as high-fashion houses appropriate the streetwear aesthetic to create urban-inspired products with opulent fabrications and exorbitant price points.
Nowhere is this phenomenon more noticeable than in the world of footwear - sneakers have infiltrated all areas of society and left an indelible mark on the fashion landscape, as luxury fashion houses the world over produce their own takes on athletic footwear. Here's a roundup of some of the most notable (and in some cases, blatant) inspirations behind some of the world's most luxurious sneakers.
Maison Martin Margiela's Replica inspired by German Army Trainers
MMM's luxe-lifestyle sneaker owes its low-profile, minimalist silhouette to an oft-overlooked piece of footwear history, the German Army Trainer. Used by the Bundeswehr for indoor training, the GAT traces its roots back to the storied feud between the Dassler brothers (founders of adidas and PUMA respectively) and thanks to its sleek design and obscure origins, has had a knock on influence on Dior Homme's B01 and Svennson's Army Sport, alongside many shoes from the adidas and PUMA archives. Get a more in-depth look into the history of this footwear curiosity here.
Rick Owens' Geobasket inspired by the Air Jordan 1
While Rick's Ramones sneaker is an obvious homage to the Chuck Taylor, a little digging around the sneaker archives will bring up an early version of the Geobasket that pays more than a passing resemblance to the Air Jordan 1. While the toe box and ankle paneling bear a passing resemblance to the AJ1, it's the angular swoosh-like shape (changed in later versions either through legal action or Owens' own choice) that cements the sneaker as a tribute to the iconic b-ball shoe.
Buscemi's 100mm inspired by the Hermes Birkin Bag
Buscemi's outrageously expensive leather mid-top owes its distinctive embellishments to an outrageously expensive leather handbag - Hermes' controversial $10,000 Birkin to be precise. The full grain, Italian-made calfskin sneaker has proved a smash hit, selling out despite its $865 price tag and a design that is not exactly easy to pull off.
Givenchy's Tyson Hi Top inspired by the Nike Air Force 1
Givenchy's head honcho Riccardo Tisci makes his love for Nike's Air Force 1 no secret, claiming in our recent Q&A session that he has "three or four hundred pairs" of the legendary basketball sneaker. It comes as no surprise then, that the Parisian fashion house's signature hi-top sneaker comes with a healthy dose of the AF1's DNA - from the chunky sole and perforated toe box to that unmistakeable ankle strap.
Saint Laurent's SL6 inspired by the adidas Stan Smith
Taking blatant inspiration from adidas's legendary Stan Smith, Saint Laurent's entry to the sneaker game is unusually sporty for Hedi Slimane's glam, rock 'n' roll obsessed fashion house. Not the most ridiculous take on the court shoe - the honor belongs to Raf Simons' collab with adidas - the Saint Laurent SL6 still jacks 99.9% of the Stan's design, from the contrast heel counter to the perforated side stripes.
Valentino's Rockrunner inspired by the Nike Internationalist
Essentially a Nike Internationalist with studs, Valentino's Rockrunner sneaker has been dressed in everything from leopard-printed pony hair to fluorescent camo over the years, somehow managing to be one of the gaudiest of its ostentatious luxury rivals. The sneaker's toe box, heel counter and lace panel are lifted straight from Nike's classic runner, and like all of its high-fashion compatriots, you would be absolutely insane to use it for the sport its ancestor was originally designed for.
Gucci's Tennis '84 inspired by the adidas Micropacer
By all accounts the first sneaker produced by a luxury fashion house, Gucci's Tennis '84 bears more than a striking resemblance to a luxed-out version of adidas's 1979 TRX Competition, and back in the '80s was the ultimate flex for certain members of society who wanted the world to know that they were wealthy enough to blow serious $ on completely nondescript footwear (enter the phrase "drug dealer chic"). Gucci's take on the Micropacer's clean, athletic silhouette has even knocked on to a second generation of luxe sneakers from Our Legacy and Wooyoungmi, amongst others.
visvim's FBT inspired by Fun Boy Three
The fashion influencer's shoe of choice, visvim's FBT boasts an unusual marriage of performance EVA Phylon sole units and uppers meticulously crafted from the hides of exotic animals like Kudu and Antelope. Owing its name to New Wave band Fun Boy Three, Hiroki Nakamura found inspiration in the moccassins worn by the group on the cover of their Best Of record, infusing it with the designer's passion for artisanal craftsmanship and those iconic side flaps to create a future classic piece of footwear design.
Karl Lagerfeld's New Balance inspired by the New Balance 574
In an unprecedented troll maneuver, Chanel director Karl Lagerfeld's "tribute" to the New Balance 574 took pretty much everything from the iconic running sneaker and childishly emblazoned a "K" in place of the NB's signature "N." One of the sillier moments in footwear history, it justifiably resulted in a lawsuit from the Boston brand.
Sandro's High Top inspired by the Vans Sk8-Hi
One of the more blatant "tributes" to an iconic footwear design featured here, Sandro's High Top takes Vans' Sk8-Hi sneaker - padded collar, toe box stitch and all - and gives it luxe credentials with a premium leather upper, resulting in a $400 skate shoe that no one in their right mind would dare skate in. Further proof that people will buy lavishly expensive versions of literally anything.