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Raf Simons and the Three Stripes: A Timeline of Collaborative Endeavors

Raf Simons was appointed Creative Director for Jil Sander back in 2005, and that of Christian Dior in 2012; Now in 2017, the Belgian designer has moved on to take the throne at Calvin Klein, seemingly inclined to direct his focus towards pop-culture apparel more than ever before. While working on couture during those years, Simons spearheaded a variety of his own outside projects, such as working as a University professor, setting up art exhibitions, maintaining his namesake label, collaborating with brands like Fred Perry, Linda Farrow, Asics, Eastpak, and of course, the Three Stripes.

For a relatively short amount of time, the relationship between Raf Simons and adidas Originals has been one that’s been consequential — pushing the envelope on inclusivity. Since their first official collaboration in 2013, their cooperative endeavors have been instrumental in bridging the gap between “high” and pop-culture. For Simons, Antwerp’s underground fashion scene in the ’90s — with its streetwear, high-fashion and art enclaves — has been a ground zero for some of his greatest influences in his vast body of work. Over the years, he’s paid tribute to various inspirations of music, photography and art, riffing on the rebellious energy of youth culture. Simons is well known for his curatorial approach of stringing together elements of conceptual abstraction that often accompany high fashion, and blending them with that raw, sentimental garishness that streetwear manifests.

Here’s a brief timeline of the designer’s busy, yet significant partnership with the Three Stripes.


adidas Originals by Raf Simons 2013

Simons’ first collaboration with adidas Originals in 2013 was nothing less than a groundbreaking resurrection of some of the most beloved ’90s sneakers: The Ozweego and Response silhouettes were updated with pops of colored mesh, silicone bubbles, striking side panels, and were equipped with the adiPRENE midsole for functional cushioning and comfort.


adidas Originals by Raf Simons 2014

2014 was a big year for the Belgian designer; newer silhouettes like the Rising Star 2, Response Trail 2, Bounce and Super Trekker hybrid were added to the roster. But a defining highlight that had stirred conversations came with the well received rendition of the Raf Simons Stan Smiths marked by the perforated “R” initials on the sides.


adidas Originals by Raf Simons

By this time the perforated “R” logo has become as ubiquitous as Simons’ name. The “Raf Stans” took on several new colorways: baby pink, baby blue, red, navy and the original white/green. Reinterpretations of the classic slides done up in striking colorblocks also showed out alongside the introduction of the all-new Platform Lace model.


adidas Originals by Raf Simons 2015 Response Trail Robot

The Response Trail Robot saw Simons play curator as the designs seamlessly blended nostalgic vignettes with an unassumingly futuristic outlook. Cues from NASA’s astronaut suits were taken into this customization of the Response Trail silhouette. The metallic silver colorway was appropriately named the ”Robot.”


2017 Ozweego Bunny Cream

 

Fast-forward to this year, 2017, the song titled “RAF” by A$AP Mob had just been released, and have kids down the block chanting the lines “Please don’t touch my Rafs!” Simultaneously, the Ozweego Bunny Cream has come out as yet another ode to his love for ’90s retro footwear. Boasting of cream and white hues throughout its upper, its translucent windows now sport some text for a little inside-out effect — A testament to his referential sensibilities.

Simons trails the nexus between high-end designer and commercial, without veering too far in any one direction. He’s demonstrated his ability to add the most important designer elements to the sneakers without inflating the prices dramatically, yet keeping them slightly above your average local footlocker shelf-price. The result is neither street nor luxury, but rather a contemporary take on a designer-commercial sneaker hybrid. Its in the nuances, and the subtle design choices — the decision for example, to use PVC over nylon, or a thinner tongue than the original Stan Smith — where you discover this curious synthesis of kitsch and futurism. And its that you can’t really make out where it lies along this spectrum that Simons succeeds in carving out a unique space for his name and ultimately narrowing the gap between the “high” and the “low”.


adidas Originals by Raf Simons Detroit Runner & Ozweego III

Check out the photos above to see the latest release of the adidas Originals by Raf Simons Detroit Runner and the evolved Ozweego III. Click here to shop now.

Writer
Charlie Zhang / HBX