The Rise Of Unconventional Silhouettes In The Sneaker World
The sneaker world is ever-evolving. With new designs and silhouettes constantly being released, here are some of the more unconventional silhouettes that have come up in recent times.
When Charles Goodyear invented rubber in 1839, he had little idea as to just how groundbreaking his invention was going to be. Fast forward to a couple decades later and rubber is now regularly used to construct the soles of various shoes and sneakers due to its durable and waterproof nature. These rubber-soled shoes came to be known as Plimsolls.
Until the early 20th century, rubber-soled shoes were a luxury that very few could truly afford. However, with the release of Keds, a shoe manufactured by the U.S. Rubber Company, the masses had a chance to experience the revolutionary product for themselves and the shoe industry began expanding further.
Shortly after the Ked’s release, another, now well-known, brand entered the market - Converse. Converse hired basketball player Chuck Taylor to promote their All Star silhouette garnering a massive response from consumers. What was initially designed as a basketball shoe was soon a wardrobe-staple in everyones closets and Converse’s success paved the way for several other companies to enter the shoe industry.
Adidas was one such brands that began making performance enhancing shoes for pro-athletes. They released iconic silhouettes such as the Stan Smiths, Gazelle and Superstars - each of which reached new heights of triumph and are fan favourites even today.
Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory, entered the industry in the 1970s and produced several new silhouettes to the market such as the Cortez and the Waffle Trainer.
It was around this time that sneakers were being marketed to teenagers due to their immense popularity and being worn by everyone from famous hip-hop artists to celebrities.
Soon enough, sneaker companies started collaborating with other brands and individuals which resulted in the expansion of the fan base even more.
Today, sneakers are not mere shoes. Instead, they define the current cultural sphere and bring with them a legacy. With the exponential growth in the sneaker industry over the years, and the radical changed in the design and aesthetic sensibilities, brands aim to provide the latest new-age silhouettes and designs that amplify style as well as performance and comfort.
In this process of designing newer renditions, older silhouettes are sometimes used as a base inspiration that is combined with the latest cutting-edge technology and contemporary colourways to give rise to a completely unique creation.
Take a look at our picks of some of the most interesting, crazy and unconventional silhouettes of sneakers in recent time!
Rebook 'Instapump Fury':
The Reebok Instapump Fury were designed in Japan in collaboration with a popular anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The shoe was designed drawing inspiration from a droid character in the show.
Created in collaboration with MegaHouse Toys, the sneakers received a positive response from fans but were only available in Asia and did not see too many pieces produced overall. However, the shoes made a comeback in 2019 in collaboration with Adidas this time and saw a worldwide release and were considered a hit.
Released in 2013, the Springblade included a sole consisting of 16 angled blades made with high quality polymer to maximise cushioning. Springs are a great way to absorb shock from sudden forces and this also helped make the running experience as smooth as possible.
The blades are angled such that the energy that is applied on the ground by the wearer is compressed and then released giving the wearer a boost of sorts while running.
A second alteration of the shoes was later introduced which included the blades going towards the back of the shoe instead. Although Adidas spent a lot of money on the design and development of these Springblades, they were a bit too much for people and did not receive a very good response.
Onitsuka Tiger 'Okatabi':
While this shoe may seem perfectly normal from certain angles, what really sets it apart if the split toe that can be seen from the front, head first. Designed by Onitsuka Tiger, the Okatabi sneaker derived inspiration from the Japanese heritage.
People of Japan have been wearing split-toe socks and shoes for hundreds of years now, which inspired Onitsuka to design the first-ever split toe running shoe. The shoes became popular very quickly after their release and a lot of different alterations and models have been released in the recent years.
The first ever Okatabi shoe was a plain canvas sneaker that had an extremely minimal aesthetic. However, recent releases such as the one pictures above showcase the silhouette in more vibrant colours featuring a suede material.
Nike 'ISPA Overreact Flyknit':
Nike initially started ISPA to research and develop shoes and apparel that would redefine the industry and they have done just that, releasing some truly interesting pieces over the years. Sharing similarities with the Nike React Element silhouette, this sneaker was first revealed in the brands 2020 fall collection.
The upper of the shoe is made with the flyknit technology providing good grip and combining fabrics of various different colours to give the shoes an almost patchwork-esque look.
The sole of the shoe is what makes it even more eye-catching and is designed using the same React foam as some other Nike shoes. Compared to the Air Max technology that gives the wearer support towards the heel, the React technology forgoes a sock-liner that indulges the wearers complete foot into the foam for a comfortable fit.
Dada 'Code M':
Do you listen to music often? Do you want to blast your music out loud when you go out somewhere but don’t want to carry a speaker? Well then, Dada Code M is the shoe for you. This insane bright shiny silver sneaker has a inbuilt mp3 player in it along with a speaker and even comes with Bluetooth headphones.
Made by the brand Dada footwear the sneaker charge via a USB port and the controls of the mp3 player are on the tongue. This is one of the better examples of technology in other aspects and dimensions blending together with day to day wearable accessories that just go to prove, that we truly are experiencing the future.
Converse 'CT Thong Sandal':
Confused between purchasing a sandal or a shoe? The Converse CT Thong Sandal provides both. Featuring a hybrid mix of the iconic Chuck Taylor silhouette with the toe taking form of a sandal, The CT thongs were designed with an objective to provide maximum comfort to the wearer and still maintain a style statement.
Regarded as a collectors item by some the sandal/sneakers were released in multiple colourways back in 2011. We wouldn't exactly reach for these in our closet, but one thing is for sure- if you could pull these off, then you can pull off anything!
The Hideout x Nike 'Woven Air Footscape':
The Nike Woven Air Footscape is a complicated shoe and received a mixed response when it was released mainly because the design was not something that has generally been seen in a sneaker silhouette.
The collaboration with Hideout in 2005 took the silhouette to a whole new level of creativity. The design is a fusion of the two sneakers that first began the relationship between the two brands: the Air Footscape and Air Woven.
Built on the base of the Footscape, the shoe has interesting asymmetric lacing with the purpose of relieving the top-of-the foot from pressure.
Furthermore, the sneaker is woven together with nylon, just like the Air Woven which makes the sneaker much more breathable and also increases flexibility. Another highlight of the shoe is the material of choice for the upper - a mix of premium cowhide and pony hair.
Yeezy 'Foam Runners':
The latest Yeezy foam runners are basically just Crocs on steroids. Resembling something that looks like it could be a style statement on The Flinstone's, the shoes were first revealed to the public by an Instagram post that saw Yeezy found and rapper Kanye West’s daughter North wearing the silhouette.
The design of the silhouette is futuristic yet minimal and has been crafted using a solid piece of a special “Yeezy material” which is a blend of harvested algae and EVA materials. After the recent release of the plain white colourway of the shoe, several other colour of the foam runner have also been teased.
Nike 'ISPA Road Warrior':
Rumoured to have a retail price of $500 (Rs. 37,140 approx.) the ISPA Road Warrior has been termed as the sneaker for all occasions. The silhouette takes inspiration from basketball, training, outdoor apparel, running and traditional Japanese footwear.
The Road warrior has to be the most technologically advanced silhouettes Nike has ever produced and features double-stacked zoom pods in the middle section of the sole.
The curves of the silhouette inspired by the Nike Air Zoom Alpha Next, an energy return mechanism from the Air Zoom BB NXT, the split-toe tab look inspired by Japanese footwear all come together to form an equally diverse as it is unique, sneaker.
With each successive season and newer releases, it is evident that a more experimental and unconventional approach is underway in terms of designing sneakers. We can only wait and see what wacky creations the future holds!