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The History of Rick Owen's Sneaker Collaborations

Rick Owen's Sneaker

Rick Owens is a Paris-based American fashion designer. Due to his signature gothic designs in his outfits, he has earned the nickname "The Lord of Darkness." Most of his clothes are black and white. Despite being a fashion designer, he admitted his hatred for sneakers. He claimed that they were too informal and gave off a suburban feel. Yet, ironically, he has a few collections of sneakers. He has teamed up with Veja, Adidas and Converse in the past. Once again, his sneakers have a gothic design like his clothes. To understand more about the design of his sneakers, we need to identify some of his past collaborations. Here are some of the companies he has worked with.

Rick Owens and Veja

The collaboration occurred during the Fall/Winter 2019 menswear show at Veja's label. At the time, the collaboration was unexpected. Before this collaboration, he was already in a four-year partnership with Adidas. However, some people understood his continual desire to change the fashion industry, and what better way to change the industry than teaming up with another company. The motive for this collaboration was his passion for creating eco-friendly outfits. Veja makes vegan sneakers, and that drew Rick to the company. Instead of leather, Veja uses rubber and organic cotton to make the sneakers. The company sources these materials from the Amazon rainforest. Their sneakers are available in three colors, namely, black, white, and taupe. Rick is known to be over the top when it comes to color designs. But, amazingly, these sneakers are normal-looking, so conservative people can wear them without worrying about being over the top.

Rick Owens and Converse

Rick and Converse teamed up to create sneakers known as DRKSHDW in November 2021. So for people who desire vintage sneakers, getting the Chuck 70 may be the way to go. Fortunately, the Chuck 70 sneakers are gaining traction thanks to this collaboration. DRKSHDW premiered its sneakers during the Fall/Winter 2022 menswear runway event. Their sneakers come in black/cream or white/cream color palettes. Their sneakers differ from the original Chuck 70 sneakers because they have toe caps, elongated tongues, and inflated bumpers. A toe cap is a piece of steel or leather, usually on the front part of a shoe. Toe caps mainly prevent injury when an object falls on your foot or when someone steps on your foot. Elongated tongues make it easy for you to put on the shoe. You do not even need to use your finger to force the foot into the shoe in most cases. This is important for some people since they may not want to touch their dirty shoes. Without inflated bumpers, the toe cap would hang loosely in the shoe. As a result, the toe cap may move around your feet, making you uncomfortable. Also, you will not be fully protected from danger with a loose toe cap. Amazingly, this was not the first time Rick was collaborating with Converse. In 2005, they teamed up as DRKSHDW. However, at that time, they were strictly a denim line business. As the company grew, that is when they started designing sneakers.

Rick Owens and Birkenstock

This collaboration first took place in 2018. Birkenstock specializes in designing sandals. At first, they designed far-out furry sandals and ultra-tall socks. Later on, they designed their sandals differently and named them Rotterdam. Staying true to his gothic design, the Rotterdam sandals are designed with soft black leather. Also, the sandals are made in such a way that they retain their glossy appearance for a long time. Some of the key features of the sandal design are the cork footbeds and lightweight Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) soles. Cork is a good material for footwear since it absorbs sweat. That means sweat will not accumulate around your feet and cause foot odor. In addition to absorbing sweat, it allows air to circulate within your feet. Once again, the cool air will drive off the sweat. EVA is a polymer that produces rubber-like materials. It is a kind of plastic made by mixing ethylene and vinyl acetate. Compared to rubber sandals, EVA is softer hence more comfortable for your feet. Another reason EVA is comfortable is due to its shock-absorbing properties. With these sandals, you can stomp as hard as you can without feeling any impact on your soles.

Rick Owens and Dr. Martens

In 2021, Dr. Martens teamed up with Rick for a two-part collaboration, March and May. In the two collaborations, they released different-looking sneakers. For the first collaboration, they reimagined the brand's classic 1460 Bex platform sole boot from the 1990s. Their version of the boot contains a dramatic lacing pattern. So, the laces look sloppy, yet the sloppiness is intended. Rick claimed that he designed the laces in a disorganized way to symbolize the eternal search for rational order. Other features that make their sneakers unique are the addition of leather drapes on the upper shoe and a double welt stitching of taupe and yellow colors. In the next phase of their collaboration, they introduced grey suedes that they called Rick Owens x Dr. Martens SS21. The duo still retained the bizarre lacing pattern for these shoes. The shoes pay homage to gryphon sandals. Dr. Martens also makes gryphon sandals. The sandals mimic the sandals that gladiators used to wear. These sneakers look like sandals except that they are shoes. Its resemblance to the gryphon sandals stems from them having an ankle strap and elongated straps.


Ricky Owens has found great success in designing sneakers. As you may recall, he was not too fond of sneakers. Despite not liking sneakers, he still compromised and designed them. If he abandoned sneakers, he would likely not be as rich as he is now. From his story, you can learn that being successful involves making some sacrifices. Most fashion designers prefer to be successful on their own and avoid collaborations altogether. However, collaborations can be a good thing since you both exchange ideas. For instance, when he teamed up with Dr. Martens, he made grey shoes instead of the usual gothic color. Collaborating is thus part of the reason he is a successful fashion designer.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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