It’s safe to say that Y-3’s time in the sun has well and truly passed. Back in the noughties and early teenies, the adidas X Yohji Yamamoto collaboration was at the cutting edge of sneaker and streetwear design, and while to this day Y-3 still enjoys a certain degree of success, sadly the brand’s not nearly as prominent as it was.
But although its popularity has waned, it’s impossible to deny the impact Y-3 has had on adidas and sneaker culture in general. But for Yamamoto and his experimental approach, it’s likely sneaker design would have taken a different direction all together, and without his revolutionary influence the landscape of sneakers would be vastly different today.
To show our appreciation for Y-3 and the tremendous body of work they’ve put together over the years, here are 4 of the collab’s most pivotal designs and the ones that really caught our attention.
The Qasa is without a doubt the ongoing collaboration’s most iconic sneaker ever, which is all the more impressive considering it came in 2013, a few years after Y-3’s heyday. Using a perfect blend of classic Japanese design and adidas’ long-lost Tubular technology, the Qasa merged function with fashion to create a truly age-defining silhouette that’s lauded for both its comfort and aesthetic value.
Since the release of the initial style, a swathe of variations have followed in its footsteps. These have arrived in all shapes and sizes, and while some such as the outlandish “Boot” iteration have pushed the boundaries to the very limit, the Y-3 Qasa remains a firm-favourite with sneakerheads.
Although not to everyone’s taste, the Y-3 Kubo certainly shook things up when it landed on the shelves back in 2012. Each iteration of this striking silhouette featured mesh uppers and a strap across the tongue, combined with a jagged foam midsole that provided ‘wow-factor’ in bucket loads. Like nothing anyone had ever seen before, the shoe’s off-the-wall style took sneaker design into unchartered territory.
While certainly not to everyone’s taste, we commend Yamamoto and adidas for their avant-garde approach and refusal to bow down to convention. The style undoubtedly broke down barriers and laid the foundation for many of the innovative designs that would later follow.
Y-3 Stan Zip
On this stunning reinterpretation of the classic Stan Smith, Yamamoto’s innovative approach to sneaker design really comes to the fore. The designer takes the much-loved silhouette and gives it a futuristic upgrade, raising the cut and adding dual zips with detectable lacing. The result is a stunning, ultra-modern rendition that retains the essence of the design we all know and love.
Although the Boost technology has become synonymous with Kanye West and his Yeezy collections, Yohji was actually the first designer to utilise it purely for fashion purposes on his Y-3 PureBOOST silhouette. The combination of the Boost technology and Yamamoto’s signature style created a sneaker that was stylish, functional and incredible comfortable, making it one of the collaboration’s greatest success stories.
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