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Collaborations Brought Newness to Footwear in 2017

Collaborations deliver an instant fresh perspective to footwear brands. This year, major footwear players with a long lineage of iconic silhouettes tapped fashion designers, musicians and creatives to reimagine their classics.

Sneaker brands looked outside their wheelhouse for collaborators. For Fall ’17, Puma turned to high-end footwear designer Sophia Webster to create a line of sneakers and sneaker/sandal hybrids inspired by dance. The collaboration offered a more feminine and playful take on kicks than Puma’s ongoing edgy collaboration with Rihanna.

British designer Victoria Beckham teased her fashionable following on Instagram with posts of her visit to Reebok’s Boston headquarters. Shortly thereafter the brand confirmed a long-term partnership with Beckham. The Reebok x Victoria Beckham collection will launch late in 2018 and will sit in the Reebok Innovation Collective, the brand’s initiative that focuses on developing forward-thinking footwear and apparel design, from conceptual runway designs to tech-driven products.

Streetwear label Supreme nearly broke the Internet with its collaboration with Louis Vuitton. The marriage between street and luxury was an instant success, selling out across the world instantly, and it continues to be resold for outrageous prices.

Former One Direction member Zayn Malik partnered with designer Guiseppe Zanotti to launch a men’s collection that brought a luxury rocker look to athleisure silhouettes. Malik wasn’t the only former boy band member to have a sneaker in 2017, either. Musician Nick Jonas offered his creative input for 1410, a unisex capsule collection for sneaker brand Creative Recreation.

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Zanotti also partnered with Jennifer Lopez for a collection of crystal-encrusted booties, wedge sneakers and strappy gladiators sandals. Meanwhile, Stuart Weitzman turned to Gigi Hadid for design inspiration, and in November, the brand rolled out the “Gigi mule” adorned with evil eye embroideries.

Lifestyle footwear brands continued to turn to collaborators for newness and novelty in 2017.

Wolverine Worldwide-owned Keds and Kate Spade expanded their ongoing partnership to include sparkly styles for girls this fall. The “mommy and me” collection offers girls size pre-walkers to big kids glittery Champion silhouettes updated with gold details and two sets of laces.

Converse teamed with hip-hop artist A$AP Nast for a nostalgic line of corduroy and plaid sneakers—a theme that reflects the musician’s fondess for mid-century modern designs. The Nike-owned sneaker brand revealed its flashier side in a collaboration with British designer JW Anderson. The unisex designs included All-Star Chuck Taylor updated in color blocked glittery uppers.

Designer label 3.1 Phillip Lim updated six iconic Ugg silhouettes for men. The limited-edition collection combines Ugg’s water-resistant boots with elements found throughout Lim’s Fall ’17 collection, including zipper hardware, muted colors and flannel details.

Minnetonka followed up its rocker chic collaboration with New York designer Rebecca Minkoff with a partnership with premium denim label Mother. The result was a line of festival-friendly suede moccasins and booties that naturally suit the bohemian footwear brand.

Meanwhile, Crocs’ ongoing creative venture with British designer Christopher Kane helped put the EVA shoe brand on the radar of fashionistas and at the top of the “ugly shoe” trend. Kane sent Crocs down his runway for a second time, this time updating the brand’s signature clog with opulent crystal embellishments. The company is looking to maintain momentum with a lighthearted collection co-designed by actress Drew Barrymore launching for Spring ’18.