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Sneaker News NINE@NINE: Underrated Supreme Sneakers

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Supreme, that legendary institution of downtown skatewear in NYC, turns 20 years old this week. The shop has kept the anniversary fanfare to a relative minimum: they’ll be re-introducing the two tees that were available when they opened their doors back in 1994, but that’s it – there will be no blitz of hype anchored collabs, no special sneakers in sight, and no inkling that they’re all of a sudden going to start playing by the same rules that the rest of the industry does. We thought it fitting to give Supreme a bit more spotlight then that, and as a result they’re the focus of our latest Sneaker News NINE@NINE series.

For as long as they’ve been situated on Lafayette street, and eventually a handful of other spots across the globe, Supreme has been mixed up in sneaker culture. Long before boutiques existed and x’ed out sneakers were the norm, they were partnering with footwear companies that have been able to provide a logical extension of their aesthetic. The resulting catalog you’re no doubt familiar with – the Supreme Dunks, the various Vans that brought Comme des Garcons into the frame, the luxury SB Blazers, etc. But this compilation is about those that fell through the cracks, the lesser known and at times underrated Supreme sneakers from their two decade history. Continue on for our nine, and feel free to chime in via the comments if you’ve got some slept-on favorites of your own.

Supreme x Vans Old Skool “Camo” (1996)

Supreme got started on the collab stuff just two years into their twenty-year run. First up was a batch of Vans Old Skool releases, with two of three slapping camo across casual footwear way before it was everywhere you looked.

Supreme x DC Shoes Torsion – (1999)

Yep, Supreme had a brief fling with DC Shoes – the only sneaker company that they’ve ever hooked up with outside of their ongoing Nike and Vans partnerships. Back in 1999, they had the DC Shoes Torsion in two different suede colorways, both of which featured box logo branding on the insoles and the back tabs.

Supreme Downlow (2001)

Uptown meets downtown. Way before Supreme teamed up with Nike to color up some Air Force 1s, they went the DIY route with the Supreme Downlow, a simplified silhouette very clearly inspired by the iconic AF1. Don’t forget about the aptly titled Midtown with its mid-cut that came out the following year.

Supreme x Nike SB Delta Force 3/4 (2004)

First Supreme came with their elephant print laden Nike SB Dunk Lows. Next up it was that beautiful set of Nike SB Dunk Highs with the starry mid panel. After two successive grand slam silhouettes they went left in 2004, grabbing the Nike SB Delta Force 3/4 and releasing a trio of gum-soled goodies that are too often overlooked in the Supreme x Nike oeuvre.

Supreme x Ari Marcopolous x Vans (2006)

Ari Marcopoulos has been down with the Supreme team longer than you. The Dutch filmmaker and photographer was around when the shop first opened its doors on Lafayette in 1994 and become a de facto documentarian for skaters associated with the shop. This 2006 capsule, which consisted of the Vans Sk8 Hi and the Vans Era, featured some of those early photographs printed onto the sneakers.

Supreme x Bad Brains x Vans Sk8 Hi (2008)

Supreme has a lengthy history of hooking up with counter culture entities – don’t forget their ’08 collection with seminal hardcore band Bad Brains. The footwear for the set focused on the Vans Sk8 complete with some album artwork and a Jamaica by way of DC color palette.

Supreme x Vans Sk8-Hi Mid “Bleacher” (2010)

Hats off to the Supreme team for flipping the materials on this one. They opted to cut the Sk8-Hi down a notch with this Mid release that, like a couple of other pairs from their Spring/Summer 2010 range, donned denim with a custom bleach treatment

Supreme x Vans MC (Mike Carroll) (2011)

Supreme took it back to 1994 with this one, rotating a new silhouette into their collab archive by resurrecting Mike Carroll’s ’94 signature shoe with Vans. They replaced his signature on the tongue with their own and breathed some new life into Carroll’s short-lived Off the Wall career with three colorways in 2011 and then another three the next year.

Supreme x Nike SB Tennis Classic (2013)

Supreme broke the mold in 2013 by bringing the Nike Flyknit Lunar1 over into the Nike SB category and becoming the first outside entity to ever get a Flyknit SMU. Earlier in that year, they went slightly more traditional with their Nike SB Tennis Classic set, which was the rare sort of Supreme/Swoosh team up that didn’t immediately sell out.