In music, it was the decade of the remix. In gaming, it was Minecraft builds and Twitch Plays Pokémon. While the politics of the day may divide us, in culture, the 2010s symbolized a decade of collaboration.
Leave it to streetwear to run with the hype. From celebrity co-signs to the rise of new luxury, the past decade was responsible for some of the most iconic collabs in fashion history.
To truly capture the breadth of this past decade, we came up with a list of the most influential collabs, then pared that list based on long-term impact.
In no particular order, here are the collaborations that defined the 2010s, as told by Highsnobiety staff and contributors.
adidas x YEEZY
In terms of sheer hype, the biggest collab of the decade could only be YEEZY.
When adidas signed Ye back in December 2013, it felt like the start of a sneaker war. The Three Stripes had stolen one of Nike’s biggest names on the heels of the uber-hyped YEEZY 2. What followed would change the industry irrevocably.
That February, Nike went ahead with plans to drop the “Red October” YEEZY 2, despite losing the man himself. In September, adidas hired three top Nike designers; two months later, Nike sued for trade secret theft. By February 14, 2015, there was Blood on the Leaves.
And then came the YEEZY BOOST.
The first adidas x Kanye shoe, the YEEZY BOOST 750, sold out instantly. The second adidas x Kanye shoe, the YEEZY BOOST 350, sold out instantly. This December, the upteenth adidas x Kanye shoe was released, the YEEZY BOOST 380. You can probably guess what happened.
Four years and countless pairs later, the adidas x YEEZY collab is still going strong. YEEZY has defined more than what it means to have a celebrity collab. It has, for an entire generation, defined what “sneaker culture” looks like, acts like, and watches-Twitter-all-day-just-to-take-an-L like (the most influential streetwear meme account on the web is called @fakeyeezyboosts).
YEEZYs are sneakers. And in many ways, sneakers are YEEZYs. While Ye’s billion-dollar “YEEZY empire” might have a way to go to catch up with Jordans, this was the decade of Kanye.
In the rapper’s own words: that’s facts. Your ball, Jumpman. – Alex Rakestraw
Nike x OFF-WHITE™
Consider this. In June 2017 – at the height of YEEZY mania – people were actually worried about Nike.
“adidas has Kanye,” said some. “Jordan has lost its way,” said others. Three months later, the Swoosh fired back with quotes of its own. Literally, “QUOTES.”
In September 2017, six months or so after the release of its much-hyped Air VaporMax, Virgil Abloh unveiled a wide-ranging sneaker collab, called, in his trademark fashion, “THE TEN.” The premise was simple: Virgil would take 10 iconic Nike silhouettes – the Blazer, the Air Max, the Jordan 1 – and rebuild them in his signature OFF-WHITE™ style.
The result was simple, too. Overnight, the entire sneaker world pointed to Abloh’s reimagined “Chicago” Jordan 1 and said: “Good shoe.”
You know the rest. Every Nike x OFF-WHITE™ shoe sells out instantly. Every “most expensive resale” report includes at least two models. And yes, every NBA player probably has the Prestos.
While YEEZY may be the collab of the decade, Nike x OFF-WHITE™ is an undeniable force in culture. Sure, it didn’t single-handedly turn the brand around (shoutout to “12 cities” and the Consumer Direct Offensive), but it was there when it happened. – Alex Rakestraw
Raf Simons x Sterling Ruby
Why this Raf, and not the others? Simply put: because Raf x Ruby is a collab in pure form.
With a friendship dating back to 2005, the two collaborators met as artistic partners long before they considered making clothes. To quote Simons: “We were very interested in each other’s practices and maybe we had the desire to do things that people could not see us doing.” Nine years later, what people could not see took center stage. Having worked together when Simons was at Dior Haute Couture, 2014’s legendary Raf x Ruby show cemented the American artist as the Belgian’s most prescient collaborator. Ruby’s punk art interspersed with Simons’ command of silhouette put a stake in the ground for what a meeting of the minds could produce. It was, to quote legendary fashion critic Tim Blanks, “an expression of something deeper.”
Five years later, that depth keeps rolling. And still, like Blanks reporting from that show, there is “scarcely a soul in the place tonight who wasn’t hungering for the clothes.” – Alex Rakestraw
Rick Owens x adidas
Rick Owens x adidas, although only lasting four years and defunct since 2017, still resonates in the Three Stripes’ recent history. It showed just how far adidas was willing to go and how much it was willing to compromise on its aesthetic to bring a legendary designer into its ranks and offer sneakerheads something different.
The most popular silhouette was the adidas by Rick Owens Runner, which was reimagined in every shape, color, fabric, and style imaginable. From high-top sandal to edgy running shoe, the Runner defined Owens’ time at adidas.
“I thought it was interesting to work with Rick as you wouldn’t directly connect his vision with a sports company,”adidas creaetive director Dirk Schöneberger told 032c. “But from the very first season he wanted to design a running shoe. We created something together that you would not necessarily run in, which changed the perception about how a sneaker historically has to look.”
Owens took on the adidas Superstar or Pro models and put his own spin on them. Rick Owens x adidas provided sneakerheads with a stepping stone into Owens’ dark, and gothic world, while also providing his own fans with a more “casual” options when the Geobaskets or Ramones just didn’t fit the occasion. – Fabian Gorsler
FENTY x PUMA
The 2010s was a momentous decade for Rihanna who transitioned from number one charting recording artist to fashion designer and beauty business mogul.
The seeds of Rihanna’s global FENTY empire were sewn when she became Puma’s creative director of fashion sportswear in 2014, which she followed up with a sold-out sneaker the following year (the sand-colored cleataed creeper was a stand-out). A full clothing line was then debuted for SS16 at New York Fashion Week.
The SS16 FENTY x Puma collection was an amalgamation of XXL hoodies that also worked as dresses, chokers, sheer shirts, and oversized puffers that tapped into the rise of streetwear in high fashion. “If the Addams Family went to the gym, this is what they would wear,” said Rihanna.
The gear was well-received by fans of sportswear, high-fashion, and naturally by Rihanna’s global fanbase. It cemented Rihanna’s personal style of oversized unisex pieces (with high-rise boots) as one of the most sought-after of the generation, and one that would unquestionably sell. Now at the end of the decade, FENTY has leaped from collabs with Puma to being a fully-fledged designer house owned by LVMH, making her the first woman of color to lead a brand for the French multinational luxury goods conglomerate. – Max Grobe
Kanye West x Louis Vuitton
Before Supreme and Hiroshi Fujiwara had ever officially touched Louis Vuitton’s hallowed monograms, Kanye West was already in the luxury house’s fold. Tapped by then-creative director Marc Jacobs, real heads remember the first time street culture and luxury met at an unprecedented level.
West’s capsule collection of shoes released the same year as his landmark Air Yeezy for Nike, and while the latter shoe continues to carry a legacy of its own, the Jasper, Don, and Mr. Hudson silhouettes was a hugely significant “W” for street culture’s eventual luxury inception. So when West’s then-right-hand-man, Virgil Abloh, ended up as Vuitton’s men’s artistic director a decade later, it was clear when the seeds were planted, and it only adds more gravitas to the emotional embrace the two shared after Abloh’s debut show. – Jian DeLeon
Kanye West x A.P.C.
When Kanye West had an apartment in New York City in the early aughts, he would regularly venture down to A.P.C.’s SoHo store for some retail therapy. This fandom would eventually sow the seeds for not one, but two, collaborative capsules with the French brand, each arriving with not inexpensive price points (a $2,865 fur-lined Parka, anyone?) Given A.P.C’s recent anniversary collaborations, with the power of hindsight this tie-up feels kinda nondescript, even average. But at the time it was the buzziest thing one could imagine. While some might have been a little underwhelmed with the final, minimalist apparel range, the military-indebted, luxury casual vibe was an early look into the aesthetic that would inform West’s later YEEZY work.
In A.P.C. chief Jean Touitou, it’s safe to say West found something of a kindred spirit, with neither shy of making controversial headlines. A.P.C. stuck by West, carrying his second YEEZY line in several of its main worldwide locations. Touitou even stated that West “shared a similar vision of beauty to mine.”
Even if it’s been eclipsed by his collaborative work elsewhere, A.P.C. Kanye was a surefire sign that the rapper was set to be a major player in not just streetwear, but wider fashion, in the years to come. – Graeme Campbell
Jil Sander x Uniqlo
One is a German master of minimal fashion, the other is a Japanese purveyor of accessibly-priced wardrobe-essentials. Together, they created one of the most relevant clothing collaborations of the 2010s. What separates Uniqlo from its competitors is that it’s more a tech company than an apparel company—it doesn’t dabble so much in offering cheaper takes on current trends but more so operates from a sincere desire to clothe the world as if nudity was a problem to be solved.
Given that approach, it’s no surprise that the company was able to get Jil Sander out of retirement to reimagine what the staples of tomorrow would look like. It wasn’t a rehash of Sander’s old collections or shapes, but a truly new, no-nonsense approach to a modern wardrobe informed by their respective disciplines. And isn’t that what a truly good collaboration is all about? Since ending their partnership in 2014 with a “greatest hits” capsule collection, Uniqlo’s U line (designed by French minimalist Christophe Lemaire) carries on the torch Sander lit ten years ago. – Jian DeLeon
ASICS x Kiko Kostadinov
ASICS is no sleeper when it comes to collabs. From heaters like Ronnie Fieg’s “Volcano” GLV to this year’s GmbH Gel-Kayano, the Japanese performance running brand has a long history of turning its speedy silhouettes into street-style gold.
But with the decade behind us and Tokyo 2020 in view, only one name has broken out from the pack.
ASICS x Kiko Kostadinov is a triumph in tastemaking. Unveiled in 2017, the unlikely tie-up saw Kostadinov (then just one year out of fashion school) apply his trademark dark industrialism to the GEL-BURZ 1, a shoe so fatherly, it mows its own lawn. That sneaker – a highbrow take on a borderline dysmorphic shoe – walked the runway during Kiko’s SS18 London show, then sold out on release.
Its success led to another collab. Then another. And another. Before long, Kiko ASICS were a fixture on-feet at fashion weeks, with 2018’s pottery-inspired GEL-BURZ 2 taking top spot.
Before Kiko’s touch, a black-on-black modern ASICS runner was the Under Armour polo shirt of shoes. Vintage collabs like KITH’s GLVs have the benefit of nostalgia backing them. With contemporary models, there’s no such luck.
Are shoes like the GEL-BURZ still ugly? Perhaps. But through the eye of a talented collaborator like Kostadinov, their bulbous features shine. Ugly shoes that look great – imagine that. -Alex Rakestraw
Supreme x Louis Vuitton
In 1995, Vogue famously compared Chanel’s 5th Avenue boutique to a then-fledgling Lafayette Street skate shop.
“Generally the vector of fashion influence points from downtown toward uptown, from the young-and-street to the mature-and-moneyed,” the magazine quipped. “You would probably see the construction-worker jacket translated into Chanel before you would see Chanel knocked off for Supreme.”
Twenty-two years (and a few cease-and-desists) later, Supreme’s young-and-street style stepped onto the Paris runways. Its host: Louis Vuitton, the first name in mature-and-moneyed, the penultimate French luxury brand (and the sender of those cease-and-desists). Uptown, eat your heart out.
Supreme x Louis Vuitton was a watershed moment – not just for high-low collabs, but for fashion as a whole. While the same trends that Vogue spotted in 1995 had already sprouted buds (see Saint Laurent’s SL/10H), to see them crystallized as a collision between icons was a signal to the world at large.
Even the Financial Times, a bastion of the mature-and-moneyed, picked up the story. The message was clear: a new luxury was here. Two years after Sup x LV, Chanel would unveil its first-ever collaboration, an accessory-laden collection with none other than Pharrell Williams. – Alex Rakestraw
H&M x Versace
Swedish fast-fashion giant H&M has released an annual designer collab every year since 2004, starting with Karl Lagerfeld. It’s coolest lock-up this decade: 2011’s H&M x Versace.
In the over-glitzy world of the early aughts, H&M brought affordable, tasteful maximalism to the masses. Versace’s trademark prints adorned £30 shirts and £80 jackets (approximately $40 and $105, respectively), a bright light in the Ed Hardy hellscape that was 2011 fashion. Even Kanye West wanted a slice of the action.
While 2014’s Alexander Wang collab certainly makes a case for the Swedish brand’s best, H&M Versace crashed the chain’s webstore on launch day. In today’s world of hyped high-low collabs – Uniqlo x J.W. Anderson, OFF-WHITE x IKEA – that alone signaled the things to come. – Alex Rakestraw
To call Italian luxury outerwear specialists Moncler’s disruptive “Moncler Genius Project” retail experiment successful is an understatement, to say the least.
In 2018, Moncler CEO Remo Ruffini threw open his brand’s doors to eight outside collaborators, allowing them to reinterpret the brand’s identity in their own unique way. This has given birth to madcap creations like Craig Green’s wild “Michelin Man” jacket and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s colorful puffer coat gowns, endearing the brand to a new young consumer and ensuring it stays at the forefront of the 2019 fashion conversation.
At its latest pop-up launch in Milan, Moncler Genius tapped Vanessa Beecroft for a performance to herald in its latest collections, showing that its tentacles extend beyond the fashion space. Who knows where this could end up over the next 10 years. – Fabian Gorsler
The North Face x Junya Watanabe
Junya Watanabe and The North Face have a long, long history together. The COMME des GARÇONS alum has worked with the California outdoors brand for more than a decade – sometimes at his own label, often under COMME.
At Junya’s collab-heavy Paris Fashion Week FW17 show, the designer debuted his latest work with The North Face. Upcycled jackets. Coats made from duffel bags. It was pure, vintage, cut-and-sew Junya. Goodbye, domestic bliss. Hello, $2,400 backpack Frankensteins.
Junya Watanabe x The North Face is a long-standing collaboration that grew to become iconic – not for its longevity, but for its second wind. Outside the realm of pure luxury, it’s hard to find a statement piece more neck-snapping than a Junya x TNF “Tortoise.” – Alex Rakestraw
Palace x Polo Ralph Lauren
Once upon a time, Polo Ralph Lauren didn’t do collabs. That all changed last year.
In November 2018, the house that Ralph built announced its first-ever collaboration with none other than London upstart Palace Skateboards. Given Polo’s New York roots, the pairing seemed strange. On one hand, the prep and prestige of America’s premium brand. On the other, ALL CAPS MUM JOKES (and. well, this.) The announcement video featured proper lads doing donuts around a horse.
Though the pairing may have turned up noses with the polo-playing crowd, Palace x Polo was destined for streetwear legend status. Garments like the Skateboard Polo Bear sweater remixed brand classics. A “critter print” chino featuring a vintage BMW 3-series rail-grinded down genre lines.
And then, there’s the Polo skate deck with – wait for it – horses on the back.
While it may have been a one-season show, the precedent set by Palace x Polo Ralph Lauren makes it an easy shortlist for collab of the decade. – Alex Rakestraw
UNDERCOVER x Valentino
Italian luxury clothier Valentino is known for its idiosyncratic couture and luscious trademark red. And yet, there it was, walking down the runway at Paris Fashion Week with black, printed, collaborative streetwear.
For its FW19 Menswear collection, Valentino tapped Japanese fashion experimentalist UNDERCOVER (and its visionary creative director Jun Takahashi) to collaborate on a line of graphic coats and knitwear. If any of Takahashi’s designs looked familiar to the Paris crowd, it’s because they were – just one day earlier, they appeared at UNDERCOVER’s FW19 Menswear show.
“It’s a social experiment!“ exclaimed Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli backstage, according to Vogue. An experiment it was. An experiment it may no longer be.
As the worlds of luxury and streetwear converge, the once-blasphemous idea of two auteur creatives combining talents for a runway show experiments feels like rich creative territory. While Valentino x UNDERCOVER happened at the tail end of the decade, we may just look back on this moment as the start of a new era. – Alex Rakestraw
Salomon x 11 by Boris Bidjan Saberi
French outdoors brand Salomon is in rare company. It makes cross-country skis yet still winds up on “Sneakers of the Year” lists. By and large, this happened through collabs.
Based in the alpine town of Annecy, France, Salomon started as a ski edging shop in 1947. It grew to become one of the leading ski makers in Europe, eventually expanding into uber-functional hiking and trail running shoes. And so, like other function-first footwear brands, they were banished to the realm of “dad shoes.”
That all changed in 2015. That year, Parisian boutique The Broken Arm teamed up with Salomon on a limited-edition Snowcross boot. This Annecy-to-Paris cosign was the first collab in the Salomon revival, but it was by no means the most significant. It would take two more years to turn it up to 11.
In 2017, Spanish designer Boris Bidjan Saberi teamed up with Salomon on a line of special edition tech sneakers to support his sportswear collection, “11 by Boris Bidjan Saberi.” Saberi’s cyberpunk takes on Salomon classics like the Speedcross 4 and turned dad shoes into rad shoes, jolting the brand with fashion credibility as its turnaround was just beginning. The collection continues to this day and now includes BBS11-exclusive models like the Bamba 6.
The story of Salomon as a fashion shoe runs through this collaboration. While the brand’s in-line shoes now dot sidewalks at Fashion Weeks worldwide, it was Boris who un-boring’ed it all. – Alex Rakestraw
Gucci x Dapper Dan
In 2017, Gucci announced that it would be developing a capsule collection with legendary Harlem tailor Dapper Dan, as well as re-opening his atelier and furnishing the space with luxury fabrics too.
During the late ’80s and ’90s Dapper Dan was known for creating haute couture street-ready looks from bootleg fabrics during a time when fashion and street culture were worlds apart, in stark contrast to today.
The announcement of the capsule collaboration followed a tricky time for Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele, who was accused of copying a Dapper Dan puffer jacket when a very similar item appeared during a Gucci cruise collection show in Florence. Michele called the jacket “an homage,” before later revealing they would be re-opening Dap’s Harlem boutique together, with the designer recontextualizing materials provided to him by Gucci.
The tie-up consisted of ornate tracksuits, dragon-emblazoned heeled boots, gold accessories, and tank top and tees bearing the designer’s moniker. Gucci would also photograph Dapper Dan to star in the campaign, and feature him in a tailoring campaign.
However, Dapper Dan and Gucci remained in headlines as Gucci faced accusations of designing products that referenced blackface and degrading racial stereotypes. Dapper Dan released a statement on Instagram saying he would be holding the brand accountable and had arranged to meet Gucci’s CEO. What followed was an announcement from Gucci that they would be implementing a company-wide diversity and inclusion program, along with a multi-cultural design scholarship in partnership with fashion schools around the world.
This collaboration, and the ensuing blackface controversy, demonstrated that while the gulf between fashion and street culture has been bridged, there is still a lot of work to do in destabilizing white power structures within the industry. – Max Grobe
Hermes x Apple
In 2015, worlds collided. The New World and The Old World, that is.
The Apple Watch Hermes Series was a true surprise. While the “Hermes” in “Hermes Series” mostly refers to the leather in the watch’s band, the $1500 edition of a product typically costing $549 marked what some saw as Apple’s first foray into the world of proper luxury.
More than that, Hermes x Apple represents a true cross-pollination. At its essence, it’s a crossover between the most luxurious accessories brands in the world – one for the accessory in your pocket, another for the one on your shoulder. In the “It bag” days of the early 2000s, one could be said to literally die without a Hermes Birkin. By the launch of the Apple Watch Hermes Series, times – and life-sources – had changed.
Hermes x Apple was a bold step for both brands. For Apple, towards luxury. For the house of horsebits and waitlists, towards a decidedly-digital future. – Alex Rakestraw
UGG x … Everyone
As if to prove that truly nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come, Uggs became cool and yet none of the horsemen of the Apocalypse have yet to grace this mortal realm. How did the ultimate object of brunch-eating, pumpkin spice latte-drinking, fur vest-wearing derision manage to become worthy of the runway?
Part of it has to do with the post-irony era of fashion, in which designers like Glenn Martens’ Y/PROJECT and duo Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta of Eckhaus Latta took the shearling footwear to new heights. In Y/PROJECT’s case, that was quite literal with a thigh-high lined boot that could be folded down. Meanwhile, Eckhaus Latta pared down the silhouette and added a square toebox as well as a low-key mule version with colorful shearling inside.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Uggs courted the streetwear set through a Jeremy Scott collab featuring Guy Fieri-esque flames as well as a BAPE collab modeled by Lil Wayne. Admittedly, the mule version of the BAPEsta sneaker lined in shearling looks as cozy as it is quirkily cool. – Jian Deleon
Vetements x … Everyone
Perhaps no single collaborator better sums up this decade than Parisian brand Vetements. Formed in 2014 by a then-unknown Demna Gvasalia, the French fashion collective known as Vetements (“clothing,” in French) took the world by storm through a combination of sharp design and just pure whimsy. The label’s DHL tee – a £185 bootleg of a shirt given to postal workers – is only one example. The Vetements art-gone-mad hit parade spawned so much cacophony that a parody brand, Vetememes, became its own bonafide streetwear player.
But a subversive streak alone doesn’t make for iconic collabs. For Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017, Vetements (with now-Balenciaga head Gvesalia still at the helm) riffed on the fashion moment itself by walking a collection composed of 18 – yes, one-eight – collabs. Some were with streetwear bonafides like Champion and Reebok.
“Initially, Vetements didn’t have a good production base,” said Gvasalia. “I came up with the idea of using the expertise and experience of certain labels by asking them to collaborate with us: with our ideas and our way of working with their products. We would never have been able to create collections like these on our own.”
Some, with anti-fashion standbys like Brioni and Lucchese. And then were the oddballs: Vetements x Juicy Couture. Vetements x Kawasaki. The list, quite literally, just keeps going. Vetements’ blockbuster season blew the doors off collab culture. After that show, anyone – truly, anyone – had at least a whiff to play in the space. – Alex Rakestraw
Crocs x Balenciaga
Finally, saving the least for last, there’s these.
Balenciaga’s 2017 Crocs collab broke the internet, twisting trollish meme-bait into a taste level competition that, believe it or not, may have revived one of the most downtrodden shoes of all time.
An original pair at retail could cost you up to $850. And in the culmination of everything the past decade was, is, and shall ever be: they sold out online before they were even released.
In short: bring on 2020. – Alex Rakestraw
- Main & Featured Image: Timothy Suen / Highsnobiety / Valentino / adidas / Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety / David Sims / Palace / Balenciaga / Nike