To help! I’m tired of working with sneakers
I recently found myself facing a very 2021 problem. A small problem given the state of affairs, but a problem nonetheless: Todd Snyder or Aimé Leon Dore? Not in the sense of picking my One True Brand, but something a little more down-to-earth: Everyone had a New Balance collaboration one day apart, and I couldn’t decide which one to buy.
Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. My wife – who accepts very well that I’m a nutcase who likes to have a lot of stuff – tried to curb my consumption by instituting a one-in-one-out policy for shoes, which I largely ignored. Initially, after donating a pair of Jordan 1 socks and seeing the hole in my closet, I thought I would take the ALDs But the news that Todd Snyder was dropping a pair of New Balance with colorways inspired by a farmers market froze my tracks. I had reached collaboration overload – a feeling I would guess a lot of sneaker obsessed people have been having lately.
It wasn’t the first time either. Not too long ago I saw a pair of New Balance X Casablanca 327s available on a resale site for a decent price and almost pulled the trigger, but then saw that the store of Bodega sneakers was going to be celebrating 15 years working with NB on a pair of 990v3s and thought I might just wait and see if I could get them. This decision sent me down a New Balance collaborative rabbit hole, leading me to guess my decision. I was paralyzed with anxiety. I would have hit a wall. It is collaboration overload: a condition characterized by too much choice and not enough time to make a decision.
Brands, of course, are far from the fatigue of collaborations. Everyone wants to work together these days. Air Jordan and Dior. Lego and Adidas. Those Chinatown Grateful Dead Crocs: The Few three ways collab, and one that obsessed me. My dear New Balance is a particularly intense offender: in recent months they’ve launched shoes with J. Crew, Tokyo Design Studio, JJJJound, Salehe Bembury, Stray Rats, Stüssy and a few more. I asked a longtime sneaker writer Russ bengtson to explain why, besides being a good way to make more money, every sneaker company wants to work with someone else.
“It’s a way to bring attention to a figure before it’s scaled back to a more mainstream scale,” he says. “It’s a way for brands to use the design techniques and social media of young artists and designers without hiring them for real positions. The retailer or designer is guaranteed to push your product more – after all, it’s their product too – so it’s a win-win for brands.
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