Considering Rick Owens isn’t the biggest fan of sneakers, the iconic designer has quite a few sneaker collaborations under his belt. Owens has collaborated with the likes of adidas, Dr. martens, Veja, and Birkenstock, most recently adding Converse to the ever-growing list of brands that have tapped the Dark Lord for his unmistakable aesthetic.
Ahead of his debut Converse collaboration, the designer told WWD: “I was never a sneaker person, and it’s ironic that’s how I ended up. I just hated the informal and suburban ethos of sneakers.”
Owens started his line of sneakers — which have a cult following on their own — as an antithesis to existing sneaker designs. They were popular silhouettes reimagined through the lens of Rick Owens. His Ramones, for example, are directly inspired by his favorite band, who often wore Converse Chuck Taylors. The Rick Owens Dunk (later renamed Geobasket) was his take on the Nike Dunk.
Over time, however, Owens worked more with external brands, complementing his portfolio of Rick Owens shoes with third-party collaborations. Below, we’ve listed some of his most popular sneaker collaborations.
Read on for a brief history of Rick Owens sneaker collaborations
Rick Owens x adidas
Rick Owens x adidas is probably the designer’s most popular and most successful sneaker collaboration to date. Owens was contracted to adidas for several seasons and was allowed to create his own line of co-branded sneakers. Some were completely original designs, while others were reinterpretations of existing adidas models, but still wildly true to the Rick Owens aesthetic.
The partnership was announced in June 2013 and ran until 2017. Some of the most popular models were the Runner, Tech Runner, and Superstar Boot. Owens also revisited archive adidas technology such as Springblade. Overall, the collaboration gave sneakerheads designs that were slightly more affordable (though not cheap by any means) and sneakers that sat inbetween the worlds of adidas and mainline Rick Owens. They were popular with Rick Owens stans, as well as sneakerheads who may have been a little intimidated by Owens’ in-house designs. After four years, Owens and adidas decided not to renew the partnership, though the split was amicable.
Rick Owens x Converse
Rick Owens’ debut Converse collaboration sees the designer rework the popular Chuck ’70 in both high and low-top variants. The collaboration sees the designer come full circle, as the aforementioned Ramones were actually Owens’ take on Converse’s iconic silhouette.
Owens’ version of the Chuck 70 — named the DRKSHDW x Converse Chuck 70 “TRBODRK” — features a triple toe cap and double sole. The sneaker features a durable canvas upper and co-branded detailing on the tongue and heel. Both colorways are stocked at Highsnobiety Shop in limited quantities.
Rick Owens x Dr. Martens
Who hasn’t collaborated with Dr. Martens? The UK-based boot brand has worked with everyone from Basquiat to Spongebob Squarepants, so the fact that Rick Owens was invited to put his touch on a pair of Dr. Martens boots is hardly surprising. At its core, the Rick Owens x Dr. Martens collaboration serves as an exploration of Owens' dark, underground aesthetic.
On his collaborative Dr. Martens boots, which dropped in two parts this year, Rick Owens experimented with lacing, a hallmark of some of his in-house shoes as well. “When I was a teen and becoming physically aware, I saw how a tightly laced ankle leading to a broad solidly planted foot had a simple, modest, industrial masculinity — almost like a corset between a muscled calf and a sturdy foot that acted as a stoic ballast," Owens said. "DMs exemplified this the best. I saw them on all the guys flying through the air at the shows I went to then...Fear...Black Flag...The Screamers...Alien Sex Fiend...Dr. Martens became a symbol of a raw and sweaty vitality that I thought I might be able to pull off...and for a minute, I think I did."
Rick Owens x Veja
Owens’ ongoing partnership with eco-conscious sneaker brand Veja is probably his most mellow to date. The announcement of the partnership came somewhat out of left field, but the result is an incredibly wearable sneaker. The color palette is very Rick Owens — black, butter beige, and dust (a pale gray) — and the sneaker’s overall design stays relatively unchanged.
Rick Owens x Birkenstock
Birkenstock is one of the fastest-growing brands on resale platforms such as StockX for a reason: its collaboration strategy. Collaborations with the like of Kith and Rick Owens have elevated the sandal brand and made it a must-have among fashion’s elite. Owens’ versions of popular Birkenstock Sandals are predictably dark. Some are more wearable than others, but the beauty of the collab is that you know you’re wearing Rick Owens x Birkenstock and that there’s something for everyone in the collections.
Speaking of the collaboration, Owens said: “I agree with the values Birkenstock has promoted all along — steady longevity and personal well-being. And being able to combine our aesthetics with this project together in LA feels really satisfying.” Additionally, Rick Owens explained that his wife Michèle Lamy adored the collaborative sandals greatly, and says that "she has the final judgment on everything."
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