It appears there are no limits to sneaker collaboration in 2019.
On Monday, the second largest tire manufacturer in the world, Michelin, announced a collaboration with Majorcan footwear company, Camper, for a sneaker made of a rubber that “feels like velvet,” dubbed the Michelin Pilot Sport sneaker.
To produce a rubber this supple, designers incorporated a technology influenced by Michelin’s Premium Touch sidewall design. The result is a nearly seamless upper created from silky black rubber. The shoes are also laceless, adding to the effect created by the smooth upper, and a checkered middle alludes to the silhouette’s racing background.
The sole for the Pilot Sport is also based on a Michelin design and will feature an image of the “Michelin Man” on the heel. Not surprisingly, Michelin and Camper designed it to provide superb grip in both wet and dry situations, a subject on which Michelin has a great deal of experience.
This collaboration isn’t the first between Michelin and Camper. Camper collaborated with Michelin’s lifestyle partner, JVI for Michelin Outsoles, on a unisex capsule of footwear for the fall/winter ’18 season, which yielded a diverse selection of more than 20 variants of high tops, low tops and slip-ons. They also teamed up for another collection in the spring/summer ’19 season in which the “Pilot Sport” silhouette made its debut—although in pastel and without the support of the tire brand’s iconic logo.
“From the first moment, a strong understanding between Michelin and Camper has made this project a success,” Enar Lazcano Alberdi, COO of Camper, said in a statement. “The fact that we come from very different sectors has only made the collaboration more powerful. Our work with Michelin and their colleagues from JVI Michelin Outsoles each season to design better outsoles for Camper customers has been great, from hosting the team in the Camper design workshop, adapting the new tire to our Rolling sneaker, to final launch.”
Michelin was able to infuse Camper’s design with its road expertise in other areas, too, most notably with the sneaker’s tread. The “high performance” tread features grooves, similar to those found on Michelin tires, to improve flexibility and maximize the contact surface of the shoe for enhanced grip and slip resistance.
Only 500 sneakers will be produced in the white, blue and yellow colorway based on Michelin’s signature colors as Michelin and Camper planned the limited release to coincide with a new line of tires. The sneaker borrows heavily from the new line, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV, and both were announced at a company event in Lisbon on Monday.
“[The Pilot Sport] is an example of how Michelin Soles does not limit itself to finding custom soles solutions, our core business, but thanks to the serious and professional work of the Michelin team, we study and identify communication and business opportunities, aimed at reaching new targets for our partners. Camper is only the first,” Ambrogio Merlo, managing director of JVI for Michelin Soles, said.