As always, the best collaborations are marked by a fusion of two different sensibilities, in which the finished product bears the telltale fingerprints of the guilty parties involved. Consumers are savvy enough to differentiate between the simple juxtaposition of two or more logos on plastered a sneaker or garment, versus the sort of joint effort that connotes an exchange of ideas, and perhaps even wholly disparate visions. 2015 was chock full of such collaborations, and we've tallied 12 of the best.
1. Concepts x New Balance
Maybe it's the common New England background, but some of the best New Balance collaborations to hit stores in 2015 were made in partnership with Cambridge-based Concepts. The motor sports-inspired 998 "Grand Tourer" is the latest example, but earlier hits from 2015 include the 997 "Luxury Goods,"574 "Boston" and 575 "Fourth of July," all making for a murderer's row of New Balance knockouts.
NikeLab is built on innovation, and to modernize the classic Nike Windrunner jacket, the brand turned to the inventive minds at Stone Island, who updated the 1978 garment with its proprietary Nylon Metal fabrication and lightweight PrimaLoft insulation. The collaboration was rounded out by the NikeLab x Stone Island Koth Ultra Mid, featuring SI's weather-resistant Mussola Gummata textile on a lug sole inspired by the Nike Air Mowabb.
Supreme has a way of blazing trails while staying true to its NYC roots, and that's precisely what the brand accomplished with this groundbreaking collaboration with the most storied sports franchise in history. Along with '47 Brand, Supreme paid tribute to the Bronx Bombers with an assortment of goods that included a luxe leather varsity jacket, hooded coach’s jacket, hooded sweatshirt, mesh baseball jersey, 5-panel hat and a custom box logo tee.
The collection was predicated on the legend that Michael Jordan would push Nike designers in the '90s for ever bolder silhouettes and patterns. Decades later, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School carry on the legacy of Jordan Brand's groundbreaking design, conferring a modern edge to the Air Jordan 12 as well as a new model, the Jordan Horizon. A sharply tailored sportswear assortment, mixing outerwear, shorts and tights, are the perfect complement to the kicks.
Paradoxically, what made Nixon's Star Wars collaboration stand out from the res was its restraint. The title of the film never even made its way on to any of the pieces, which spanned classic silhouettes like the Unit, Ranger, Time Teller and 51-30 Chrono. The "Dark Side" assortment paid homage to iconic characters through unique color combinations and subtle details on the dial, making the pieces wearable outside of Hall H of Comic Con.
Jun Takahashi of renowned Japanese brand Undercover has always embraced a punk aesthetic, which made the brand a natural fit for the downtown NYC sensibilities of Supreme. Their resulting collection -- which included a Schott Perfecto Leather Jacket, Trench Coat, Hooded Flannel Shirt, Hooded Sweatshirt, Pullover Crewneck and more -- made for an instantly classic Supreme collab, embraced by skate rats and Fashion Week insiders alike.
7. NikeLab x Sacai Collection
Under its forward-thinking NikeLab banner, the Swoosh went high fashion in 2015, collaborating with Sacai multiple times throughout the year. Starting with an inaugural collection in March, the joint venture would continue into Summer and Holiday 2015, ultimately culminating in a reworking of the classic Nike Windrunner jacket. Along the way, Sacai designer Chitose Abe delivered modern interpretations of the Dunk and Air Max 90, unearthing the design genius hidden behind the bits of leather, suede and rubber.
It was a lucky coincidence that Takashi Murakami's favorite Vans silhouette was the Slip-On, as the shoe's expansive canvas upper was the ideal surface for the acclaimed artist's vibrant designs. Also comprising tees and skate decks, the entire collection made for playful blast of color ideally suited for the warm weather months. Once again, Vans ruled the long days of summer.
The inevitable collaboration between two heavy hitters finally came to light in 2015, but while the Air Jordan 1 would have seemed the natural choice for the joint venture between Supreme and Jordan Brand, the former zigged instead of zagging, introducing three colorways of the Air Jordan 5 instead. Black and white colorways were to be expected, but the third, featuring a desert camo design, was in keeping with the streetwear oriented half of the partnership. Matching apparel -- comprising hooded varsity jackets, caps and hoodies -- made for the proverbial icing on the cake.
10. Palace Skateboards x adidas Originals
The ongoing partnership between Palace Skateboards and adidas Originals continued apace in 2015, featuring a Spring/Summer 2015 collection and a subequent Fall/Winter 2015 range, both of which offered modern, skate-ready fabrications and details. But the standout pieces may have been the footwear that came out of the collaboration, including the Palace Pro Primeknit and the Palace Pro, as well as the Palace Pro BOOST.
The narrative behind the kicks is a good one, a continuation of the Jaws inspired theme that first began way back in 2008 and was now wrapping up in 2015, the 40th anniversary of the landmark film. But beyond the storytelling, this joint effort from Sneaker Freaker and PUMA is simply a sneaker design done right, featuring an appealing blood red hue across the mesh and suede upper, with bright pops of aqua on the midsole for contrast.
Pharrell Williams celebrated diversity in grand fashion with his "Supercolor" pack from adidas Originals. Featuring a total of 50 tonal colorways centered around the iconic Superstar, each shoe was treated exactly the same, with all colors getting equal exposure on identical leather builds. The winner here was the consumer, who could choose a Superstar style in just about any color under the sun.