In today’s fashion landscape designers are a dime a dozen, from high end to streetwear to everything in between. At the blink of an eye a new brand is emerging and a new trend is born. Staying power seems to be what everyone is fighting for but few can find. Whether in footwear or clothing, one’s ability to reinvent themselves while staying true to their identity is something easier said than done. Just the same, bridging the gap between high end and street is no easy task. Many designers have had their share of hits and misses when it comes to collaborations and original ideas, but few have stood the test of time and remained in the forefront of both.
Raf Simons has been consistently been hitting the people with new ideas and unique collabs for a decade now, always pushing the envelope and never afraid to step out of the box. With co-signs from peers, celebrities and athletes alike, Simons’ reach has continued to grow as his footwear has become more and more the focal point of streetwear trends. Over the years, Raf has delivered us a slew of classics along with some footwear drops that have slid by without too much fanfare. Even before designing with adidas in 2013, Simons had already been busy curating his own line of footwear with designs that were both cutting edge and perhaps timeless.
In 2010, Raf debuted the Multi Lace Sneaker: a leather mid top that looked almost like a high end straight jacket, as the shoe featured 19 lace holes that wrapped around the entire top of the foot. Luckily for wearers, Simons added a zipper along the heel to provide buyers a much easier time getting these on foot. The fully leather lined shoe provided the perfect blend of high end look while still giving people that edgy/punk vibe.
Along with the Multi Lace Sneaker, 2010 saw Simons drop the Vandal High which still to this day is one of most difficult Simons sneakers to track down. Drawing obvious inspiration from Nike’s Vandal, Simons draped the upper in a canvas and provided an Italian rubber outsole. This was a much different look from the Multi Lace and the Velcro Strap High which both featured a much more high-end/premium look complete with straps and zippers. From the luxe leather to the rubber outsoles, both shoes embraced their hefty price tags.
The following year Raf gave us arguably one of his most iconic silhouettes of all time when he dropped the Astronaut Boots. Not really a “boot” as much as a beefy sneaker, these came equipped with multiple tongues, a pouch on the back heel area and a strap. Literally every option imaginable went into these, so much so that they look like something used in space. As Raf began to deliver people a fleet of original sneakers, his collaborations with adidas are what really helped him dive into a whole different market.
With his take on the classic Stan Smith, Raf provided premium leather and a subtle perforated “R” on the lateral side of the shoe for an instant hit as people are still buying up all the colors today. With tons of celebrity endorsers, the Raf x Stan collab has with a doubt been a major success as its proven hot in partnered form while also elevating the inline model.
From the more subtle Stan Smith to the loud and intricate Ozweego line, Simons has shown buyers how he can do simple as well as give them complez. The Ozweego 1 and 2 are Simons take on a trainer that initially flopped by the Three Stripes or at least appeared to have no retro cache at the time. After splashing the shoes with an array of color and materials that had been foreign to the trainer/runner in the past, the Ozweego quickly became a must have for high fashion fans of Simons and streetwear enthusiasts alike. The shoes themselves helped to bridge a gap for Simons, allowing a more wallet conscious consumer the chance to get that high end feel without draining their savings account. With co-signs from Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa and sneaker aficionado DJ Clark Kent, the Ozweego has cemented itself as a mainstay in kick culture.
As the streetwear and footwear landscapes are ever changing and designers come and go, it takes something special to hold a place in the culture. With many more hits than misses, Raf Simons has done exactly that. With designs at major fashion brands under his belt and a multitude of success in the footwear space it’s safe to say that Raf is here to stay.
A Brief Raf Simons Sneaker Timeline
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