Rick Owens x Adidas : The End Of An Era
The Rick Owens adidas collaboration was first announced in June 2013 and since then has gone on to become one of adidas’s most coveted line of sneakers. Adidas approached Owens back in early 2013 about designing shoes for one season only and it’s purpose was to create a running shoe that was fashionable enough for Rick fans.
Adidas saw the potential of the Rick Owens partnership immediately after the first drop released in SS 2014 and went on to collaborate again and again for several more seasons. Rick Owens had already established himself as an adept designer, designing some innovative styles, such as the Ramons and the Geobasket, way before he teamed up with adidas, so this came as no surprise.
But, as fruitful as the collaboration had been for both parties over the course of four years, this AW17 will be the last season we’ll see of a new Rick Owens x adidas shoe as the two have announced they’re amicable end to the partnership. A spokesman from Rick Owens team had this to say, “Fall 2017 will be the last season of the co-branding between adidas and Rick Owens. Both partners enjoyed great success over the past four years and as this collaboration comes to a natural conclusion, they continue to hold each other in the highest regard.”
However this shouldn’t be a cause for worry as in spite of the end of this much loved collaboration, Rick Owens will be designing a new line with American rubber company ‘Hood Rubber’. “Regarding Hood Rubber, we have an agreement for one year.” the spokesman said.
Here we take a look back at Rick Owens x adidas over the years and the revolutionary sneakers that they released.
The first Rick Owens x adidas collection was shown during the “VICIOUS” collection. This initial drop featured the Runners, a style that would be continuously released and riffed upon in some capacity throughout the remainder of the collaboration. The men’s sneakers arrived in black, white, and pearl colorways and are made from primarily leather, suede, and synthetic materials. They remain consistent with Owens’ overarching monochromatic and grayscale color scheme. The silhouette exemplifies Owens’ brand of maximal minimalism through its intricate (but strangely understated) design, with a hoof-like split sole contrasting against an exaggerated geometric tongue.
The second round of the Rick Owens x adidas partnership—tying into the F/W 2014 “MOODY” collection—featured the Tech Runner. While it shares a similar toebox, the Tech Runner differs from the Runner with a few key details, including a contrasting synthetic heel patch, synthetic sock lining, shorter tongue, and its eye-catching large squared sole that sticks out from the back. Similar to the original Rick Owens x adidas Runner, the silhouette showcases adidas’s three perforated stripes, a branding detail resembling the stripes on the Stan Smith. These sneakers demonstrate Owens’ obscuring of the simple, taking an initial lowtop sneaker design and exaggerating its features. Its blocky, brutalist sole makes the Tech Runner one of the most identifiable items to ever emerge from the partnership. Similarly to the first collaboration, these sneakers are primarily made of leather, suede, and synthetic materials.
The third collection from the collaboration arrived with Owens’ S/S 2015 “FAUN” collection and featured the Superstar Boot, the Superstar Ankle Boot, the Springblade Low, and the Springblade High Boot. Sporting the same toe-box shell as the adidas Superstar and baggy leather around the calf like the Rick Owens Elephant Boot, the Superstar Boot is a clear combination of both brands. The Superstar Ankle Boot is the same shoe as the Superstar Boot, except the leather—as the name implies—barely goes above the ankle.
Also released in the collection was the Springblade Low, a combination of adidas’ Springblade technology with the body of the Tech Runner. While boasting a tongue that covers the top of its laces and a less pronounced toe box than that of the Tech Runner, the body of the Springblade Low and Tech Runner are nearly identical. The Springblade High Boot comes in white, black and, most notably, a strikingly unmistakable gunmetal. That fabrication wasn’t exclusively for this adidas collab however—Owens also introduced gunmetal Geobaskets during the same season.
The glittery choice for those uppers clashed with the collection’s matte, acid wash-esque fabrics while complimenting certain garments’ subtle shininess. Featuring a side-flap of flattened leather, the obscurely shaped Springblade High looks nearly rectangular from the front; it was yet another fitting pairing for the garments seen on that season’s runway, with the Springblade High Boot pairing well with the wide, boxy tops that complemented the shoe’s intricate geometry.
The F/W 2015 collaboration, in combination with the “SPHINX” collection, featured the Runner, the Runner Ankle Boot, and the Runner Stretch Boot. This collection’s Runner possesses the same design as the original Runner, except the colors and materials vary slightly. The Runner Ankle Boot was released in suede and pony hair. It boasts its hoof-like split sole and a clean leather body, making the shoe simultaneously simplistic and distinct. The Runner Stretch Boot is identical to the ankle boot, except its leather upper nearly reaches the knee while worn. The Runner Stretch Boots were worn by all the models on the men’s [SPHINX runway}, unifying the Rick Owens x adidas and Owens’ mainline runway clothing. The leather between the foot and the leg of the boot drapes over itself, showcasing Owens’ predilection for free-flowing design. It’s a fitting detail for this footwear collection, considering that the drapey nature of the collection’s garments exposed the male form…in more ways than one.
The next collection, S/S 2016, released along the “CYCLOPS” runway collection, featured the Superstar Ripple, which (as the name implies) combines a sawtooth rippled sole, the Superstar shelltoe, and the body of his infamously tall Sock Sneakers. The Superstar Ripple is nearly a reproduction of the Sock Sneaker, mimicking its white leather toe box, thick white sole, and clean and pliable leather body. However, this sneaker comes in black and brown suede, and boasts adidas’ iconic textured shelltoe (as opposed to a simple white leather toecap), differentiating it from the original Sock Sneaker.
This collection also incorporated the mainstay Runner silhouette, but crafted the style in both army green and bright orange. It was a dramatic progression for Owens’ footwear (and, to an extent, brand), as he avoided bright colors for the majority of his earlier collections. Looking at the runway show however, the addition of the visceral orange Runner makes sense, given that the CYCLOPS collection showcased numerous garments utilizing a similar shade of orange.
The collection also featured the Clog (the low sandals) and Cargo Sandals. The Clog sports a leather footbed and the split sole found on the Runner, but closes via an overlapping velcro panel connecting the two thick side flaps of the shoe. The Cargo Sandals maintain the same design as the Clog, except there is a strap above the ankle with a zipper and an elongated leather pull tab. The Clog and Cargo Sandal exude a casual yet distinctly virile gladiator look reminiscent of Spartan sandals. On the runway, the Cargo Sandals were paired with black socks, black skirts, and colorful drapey tops, which merged the ominous gloom of Owens’ clothing with the brute strength of the sandals.
The sixth season of the collaboration, F/W 16, was solely comprised of boots (or clunky, boot-like sneakers). The Runner Stretch Boot was re-released, but exclusively with a black leather body and white soles, tapping key elements and fabrications that have defined Owens’ gothic chic aesthetic for over a decade. The key shoe of the collection is the then-all-new Mastodon Pro, which earned its name from Rick Owens’ F/W 2016 “MASTODON” runway. Taking cues from the adidas Superstar mid and Pro Model sneakers, the silhouette stands out thanks to its chunky leather upper, the Superstar shelltoe and an exaggerated thick sole (with slight sawtooth ripples, naturally). Riffing on this new sneaker style, the Mastodon Stretch Boot incorporates a knee-high stretched leather for its silhouette, complimenting a now-yearly tradition of crafting hyper-high top sneakers that can sit alongside the season’s other, lower height options. Considering that a mastodon is a five-ton animal from another age, it’s a fitting namesake for these heavy-duty sneakers.
As for the Level Runner High, Owens only released this shoe in black with white soles. Combining the polygonal design of the Tech Runner with the body of his Runner Ankle Boot, Owens created a sneaker that embodies the major themes from his earlier collaborations with adidas, while still innovating and reconceptualizing details from earlier drops. Both shoes were worn on the WALRUS runway, although they remained hidden under the long and dramatically wide pants that were paired with the sneakers.
The F/W 2017 collaboration between Owens and adidas was paired alongside the “GLITTER” runway collection. According to sources, it is rumored that this is the last of the collaboration between the two brands. This collection features nearly no new designs, only reiterations of shoes released in previous seasons with new colors, subtle changes in materials and one shoe with a mildly different structure. It consists of the the now-classic Runner, the Runner Stretch Boot, the Level Runner Low, the Mastodon Pro, and the Level Sock Runner. In this season, the Runner, the Runner Stretch Boot, and Level Sock Runner were all made available in black sheepskin suede, with white soles. The Mastadon Pro Sneaker was released in all white. The Level Runner Low was made in multiple colorways, most notably a solid lightning yellow.
The standout in this drop is the introduction of the Level Sock Runner, technically, a newly designed shoe. While it displays practically the same design as Level Runner High, the Level Sock Runner extends higher on the leg and does not have a contrast heel back.