Y-3, Yohji Yamamoto’s ongoing collaboration with adidas, is a high-fashion staple. The label may have been established way back in 2003, but its modern-day relevance is undeniable – Yohji’s high-end take on athleticwear has been imitated by brands far and wide, particularly in the sports-luxe segment that has been so strong in recent seasons.

Y-3’s real hallmark, however, is its footwear. Cult classics like the Qasa and new concepts like the Kohna are regularly spotted on streets all over the globe, in no part thanks to their unique design language and sleek, minimalist colorways.

We caught up with Y-3’s Senior Design Director Lawrence Midwood to get the inside scoop on some of his favorite sneakers from the brand’s archive.

Kubo

“Named after Yohji Yamamoto’s right-hand man. The shoe is based on a sketch he drew for the Spring/Summer 2011 collection and was available only in three sizes: small, medium and large.”

Hayworth Mid II

“The most elegant basketball boot we ever made, with simple and clean-cut lines.”

Honja Hi

“Originally prototyped on a women’s last (a foot-shaped mold used in footwear design), our objective was to create an ultra low-profile basketball boot. The high-top version is still part of the Y-3 core range to this day.”

Qasa Hi

“This shoe had a cult following from the very beginning. Based on a short-lived adidas innovation from the ’90s, it’s got bold proportions and minimalist construction. It’s the shoe that defines Y-3’s look across the globe.”

Sprint

“It’s all about that midsole. Integration, cushioning, comfort and stability in a timeless running silhouette.”

Boost

“The first fashion shoe to integrate adidas’ revolutionary Boost technology. We launched it in 2014.”

B-Ball Mid

“80’s basketball references throughout. Back then, kicks were always offered in luxurious leathers.”

Courtside

“Laid-back basketball styling with many classic adidas references.”

Held

“Mixing mountaineering elements with sleek basketball references; it’s a concept that’s being developed to this day.”

Ikuno

“Inspired by a Japanese racing flat. I really miss this style in the collection. It’s all in the detailing – right down to the stitching of the stripes on the upper. The stitching holes were pre-punched and debossed – attention to detail that’s not so commonplace in sneaker design today.”

For more from Y-3, take a look at the brand’s recently unveiled Kohna, Primeknit Pureboost ZG and Retro Boost sneakers.

Words by Alec Leach
Freelance Writer/Editor/Consultant

Alec Leach grew up in Brighton, England, but now lives in Berlin