The Adidas Y-3 brand takes designer sneakers into very flashy territory. Adidas is no stranger to collaborations, but this match up soars to new heights of design. The “Y” stands famed Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. Acclaimed for his avant-garde design and dramatic silhouettes, he lends his wild creativity to the Adidas Y-3 sneakers and sportswear brand. The “3” represents the famous 3 stripes of the Adidas logo, stripes which are also seen on the sides of their sneakers.
Y-3 was born in 2004. It gained a following unmatched by other Adidas collaborations, resulting in the launch of its own standalone stores beyond the normal Adidas shops. Possessing their own boutiques is a fitting move, since Y-3 sneakers are clearly in an echelon of their own. The first Y-3 store launched in Tokyo, followed by shops in Paris, Beijing, Miami, Manchester, then New York’s Meatpacking District and Soho neighborhood. Today 37 Y-3 shops stand in cities across the world from Singapore to Dubai.
Yohji Yamamoto’s signature comes across in both the clothing line and sneakers, but it is the designer sneakers that are truly the star of the show. Yamamoto plays with upscale and often unexpected materials – holographs, patent leather, suede, grained leather, Norwegian wool, oiled leather. Much of the work is sleek and shiny, but Yamamoto plays with textures on the sneakers, working in crocodile and snake skin effects, adding silvery reflective holographs, piping details, etc. Black and white dominate the collections, but here and there Yamamoto will shock with color – a bright yellow boxing sneaker, a futuristic red high top shoe, a running shoe with a graphic multi-color print.
The Y-3 line encompasses a number of sneaker models. The Y-3 Warrior High takes its inspiration from military boots but elevates the basic form to a very edgy style. The Y-3 Honja High is one of the most popular recurring sneakers in the brand. It can typically be recognized by a heel silhouette that maintains a sharp straight line just slightly angled back in towards the body, the famous 3-stripes along the side, and a slight convex mini “hill” over the top of the foot. The Y-3 Hayworth High features a heel more contoured to the curves of the ankle. The Y-3 Kazuhiri expresses a minimalist look, quintessentially Yohji Yamamoto avant-garde. Other Adidas Y-3 sneakers include the Moto, Sprint, Field, Boxing, Wrestling, Sala, Pacer, Yohji Star, and Yohji Smith. Each have their own individuality but share the modern vibe of the Adidas – Yohji Yamamoto Y-3 collaboration.