Jeremy Scott and Adidas: A Whimsical Collaborative History

What comes to mind when you think of fashion? Do you think of clothes and shoes as a way to express yourself? Would you consider a unique, finely-crafted piece a work of art? Do you think clothes can be a whimsical way to shock and delight the world, turning heads wherever you go? If the answer to any or all of those three questions was “yes”, then you already know about Jeremy Scott, the fabled American designer.

Born in Kansas City, MO, Jeremy Scott is known and loved around the world for his capricious designs, toying with fabrics, patterns, graphics, sizing and loud, bright colors. He runs his own eponymous label, and is also the longtime creative director of legendary Italian fashion house Moschino. He’s been known to cause controversy and open dialogue with his designs, and has a knack for pushing the boundaries of fashion, making the seemingly impossible very possible.

However, Jeremy Scott is known for more than just his clothes. Over the course of his collaborative relationship with Adidas, he’s created some of the most singular footwear the sneaker world has ever seen. Opinions are divided on his designs, as most sneakerheads embrace his whimsical look whole-heartedly or run for the hills, denouncing it as “trash” (arguably the most damming word in the sneaker lexicon). However, nobody would deny that there’s never been anything quite like Jeremy Scott’s footwear  before … and there will never be anything quite like it again.

Today we’re exploring the soaring highs and the swooping lows of Jeremy Scott’s collaborative work with Adidas, from the beginnings of their partnership all the way up to their present-day work. The collaborative footwear the two have produced over the course of their relationship? It’s eccentric. It’s unique. It’s not for everybody, but it does force you to take a strong stance in the way any real controversial product does.

So let’s dive right into it. It’s going to be a fun, colorful ride, full of all-over prints and wild textures/patterns. The shoes may not be your cup of tea but even if they’re not, we’ve got a feeling you’ll respect and appreciate them after you’re done reading.

Let’s start at the very beginning: Scott and Adidas originally joined forces in 2002 as part of the German brand’s “!Signed” campaign. Their first collaborative shoe was the Forum High (pictured above), which Scott adorned with an all-over dollar bill silk jacquard motif featuring his portrait in place of George Washington’s. The shoes were made by hand in Adidas’s Scheinfeld, Germany factory and were extremely limited with only 100 pairs being produced (Scott kept 50 and Adidas took 50).

After their initial collaboration the two went their separate ways ways, only to reconnect in 2008 when Adidas launched a full Jeremy Scott-designed line of collaborative sneakers and apparel (mostly tracksuits) that caught on like wildfire. Streetwear style in the mid-00’s was all about big, bold statement pieces that featured lively colors and all-over prints; two things that have always been a staple of any Jeremy Scott design.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as Scott’s Wings sneakers (pictured above) became a favorite of celebrities (at the height of his popularity, Lil Wayne was a Wings fanatic) and fashion-forwards individuals clamoring for the attention-grabbing designs. The shoes flew (pun intended) off shelves worldwide, and their resell value (a modern-day indicator of a sneaker’s success) took flight as well, with several pairs being flipped for more than twice their retail value.

Over the next few years, the relationship between designer and sneaker company continued to grow, as Scott produced new silhouettes like the “Wings 2.0”, (the wings were moved to the lateral/medial side of the heel for the second silhouette) the “Bones”, and his much-beloved JS “Animal” sneakers, which featured furry uppers and large stuffed bear, gorilla, and panda heads on the tongue, as well as a set of arms extending from the lateral and medial side of the heel collar.

Inarguably some of the most audacious and hard-to-wear footwear designs of all time, Scott’s stuffed-animal inspired sneakers were the perfect piece for the Instagram generation before the “instagram generation” really existed. No matter if you loved them or hated them, you couldn’t take your eyes off of them.

Jeremy Scott’s shoes also received a massive boost in 2011, when a young, brash, stylish MC from Harlem named A$AP Rocky wore a white/black pair of Wings 2.0’s in the video for his viral smash hit “Purple Swag“. Rocky had long been a fan of Scott’s designs, and as his popularity shot into the stratosphere, so did the demand for Scott’s quirky kicks. Rocky was frequently spotted in Scott’s Adidas sneakers and apparel (the “Bones” silhouette making an appearance in the “Peso” video is another notable Rocky/Scott moment) and the two grew so close that came together for a collaborative pair of Wings 2.0’s, entitled the “Black Flag” in 2013.

However, the relationship between Scott and Adidas wasn’t always smooth sailing and love from adoring celebrities. No good designer is immune to criticism and controversy, and Scott suffered heavy backlash in 2012 for his Roundhouse Mid “Handcuffs”. A shoe that was inspired by “My Little Monster,” a 90’s cartoon in which the main character wore orange shackles, the “Handcuffs” mistakenly struck a raw nerve. The shackles attached to the shoes were supposed to represent the wearer’s unbreakable attachment to their kicks, but were widely derided for being insensitive and racist. Many viewed the shackles as an allusion to slavery, and Adidas was forced to pull the kicks from retail and issue an apology when major news outlets like Fox and CNN picked up on the story.

 

And the “Handcuffs” weren’t the only Scott/Adidas release to cause controversy. In 2013, Scott came under fire again for his “Totem Pole Print” collection, made up of tracksuits, shoes, and dresses that featured a cartoon-ized, all-over print inspired by Pacific Northwest Indian totem poles. The collection was widely received as ignorant, disrespectful, and in poor taste. Adidas didn’t issue a formal apology, but the product was quickly made unavailable in the North American market.

Nonetheless, it was business as usual. No amount of controversy seemed to slow down the collaborative effort between the two, as Scott and Adidas kept releasing unique & successful shoes and apparel. The product was genuine to Scott’s aesthetic and it was clear to most in the fashion industry and the sneaker game that Scott had no malicious intent with his designs. In 2014, Scott released the third version of his famous Wings sneakers, dubbed the “Batman” by many fans, as the design (especially an all-black pair) bore a strong resemblance to the Caped Crusader’s dark, flowing costume.

Although new releases slowed to a halt in 2015, the shoes Scott created with Adidas shifted sneaker culture in a way that few before had. They showed the general sneaker-loving populace that a pair of kicks could be anything you wanted it to be, and that nothing was too outlandish or too wild, as long as the person wearing them had the panache and confidence to pull the kicks off. Only time will tell if Scott and Adidas will resume their collaborative partnership … but one thing we know for sure is that they’ve firmly established their place in the sneaker history books.

 

What did you think of Jeremy Scott’s Adidas collaborations? Did you own any of the unique pairs the two entities created? If so, which was your favorite? Sound off in the comments below, or hit us up and let us know on Twitter!

RDwyer


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