You'll Definitely Want Adidas' Understated New Collab
This week marks the release of a collaborative project that, frankly, is one of coolest we've seen in a long while. And it's a long time coming. Tokyo-based cult brand Hender Scheme—famous for its impeccably crafted, logo-less riffs on iconic sneakers—is finally teaming up with a major sneaker brand for an official partnership. Hender Scheme founder and designer Ryo Kashiwazaki will be bringing his handcrafted approach to three different Adidas silhouettes: the Superstar, the Micropacer, and the NMD R1.
All three styles will be made from natural leather that will darken and evolve the more it's worn. And like all Hender Scheme shoes, the new sneakers will be handcrafted in Tokyo in extremely limited quantities and finished with replaceable, nail-in leather soles. There's no Boost in the NMD, no pedometer on the Micropacer. Though the shoes that serve as inspiration were all the height of technological innovation for their respective eras, this is an entirely different breed of Adidas.
We talked with Adidas Originals senior design director Erman Aykurt and Ryo Kashiwazaki about how the collaboration came together, the craftsmanship of the shoes, and which pair (or pairs) they'll be adding to their personal collections.
On working together:
Ryo Kashiwazaki: There are so many shared ideas and common goals between Adidas Originals and Hender Scheme. After noticing our similarities, we realized there are certain things that can be created only when we work together, especially if we combine and highlight the best qualities of each brand. The respect for each other has always been there, though. I own Adidas Originals products, and the team I worked with owns Hender Scheme products, too.
Erman Aykurt: The "Hommage" or "Manual Industrial Products" line that Ryo-san was working on already was sort of a mainstay in the sneaker world. And we always considered that something of a hall of fame. We knew that our products were included in there, and I simply felt very proud that our products were included there. And on our side, with our new creative director Nic Galway at the time, there was a lot more focus on craftsmanship in general. So seeing a true cobbler like Ryo-san and his approach and his dedication to the craft, we just felt that there had to be something in there. We knew that Ryo-san was not just a traditional cobbler; he had interest in modern aesthetics, modern technologies and so forth. So we thought, "We have something to offer, he has something to offer. He has something we want, he has something we want." That just spells out collaboration.
On choosing the three silhouettes for the collaboration:
RK: Hender Scheme previously referenced the Superstar and Micropacer in our Hommage collection, which has what we call Manual Industrial Products. By adding the logos, three stripes, and other elements to the Superstar and Micropacer, they became official Adidas products—a process that allowed us to be more creative and modern overall. The NMD is a new model we decided to make with premium vegetable-tanned leather. Changes in the materials and manufacturing process gives the products a new appearance which goes back to the concept of Manual Industrial Products. I think going in this direction turned out very well.
EA: The Superstar and a Micropacer, both of these shoes, in the '70s and '80s respectively, were standing for technological innovation. It might sound funny in the case of the Superstar, but it was, in the late '70s, a technological innovation. No one had ever done something like that. The shell toe has a reason for being: It was supposed to protect the toes of the centers under the basket when people were returning from their rebound jumps. It all had a reason and it all had a unique solution in terms of craftsmanship and manufacturing. And Ryo-san was maybe not consciously but subconsciously picking up on that notion and trying to find a way to transform that shoe design that has become iconic over the years into his way of manufacturing. And the NMD has really taken off. It has a sock construction, which is very far away from what he usually tries to emulate in sneakers. So it posed an interesting challenge for him, and for us it seemed like a natural continuation of playing on iconic sneaker styles.
On Hender Scheme making the shoes:
EA: It doesn't always have to start with a tug of war about who has the most influence on the product. You have a master in his craft being exceptional at what he does. It was the best, in all our opinions, to start at this level, and validate through an actual collaboration what he has been doing in the past through his Manual Industrial Product line.
RK: The reason is very simple. The materials and techniques we use to make shoes are not available to everyone—they are quite exclusive. Because of this, we made the decision to have Hender Scheme produce the collection.
On which shoes they'll be wearing:
EA: My favorite one, I would have to say, is the Micropacer. Because it kind of looks the most futuristic, or it has the most futuristic cachet about it. And the classic shoe construction of overlays and underlays offered Ryo-san a lot of opportunities to apply his knowledge about material usage and construction. So for me, that's a standout. I'm sure loads of colleagues will disagree with me on that evaluation. At the moment, if I ask my colleagues, the NMD is a definite standout for everyone.
RK: I plan to wear all three models to see how they change in their own way—to make them personal.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.