2022’s Best Anime Sneaker Collabs So Far
Given that sneaker brands can do practically anything besides resist a juicy opportunity to collaborate, this anime-heavy year has borne fruit. Lots of it.
JoJo's Bizzare Adventure: Stone Ocean x Converse All-Star Retail US$
Naruto Shippuden x ASICS Collection Retail US$
Attack on Titan x BAIT x adidas UltraBOOST Retail US$
Jujutsu Kaisen x Dolce & Gabbana Collection Retail US$
Naruto x Nike Jordan Zion 1 Collection Retail US$
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon x Vans Collection Retail US$
Demon Slayer x Skechers Collection Retail US$
Gundam x Nike Collection Retail US$
By Anton Karve
2022 has been a huge year for anime. The pandemic resulted in nearly 2 years of releases being delayed to this year, creating an overwhelming plethora of choice for anime watchers. From the hype-filled runs of blockbuster shonen (action-thriller) series like Attack on Titan Season 4 Part 2, Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc and Jujutsu Kaisen 0, to fan-favourite comedies like Spy x Family, it’s been a constant wild ride from the start of the year to present day.
This doesn’t look to end anytime soon, because Fall 2022 looks to be even more action-packed. Here’s some of the biggest upcoming releases we could find: Mob Psycho S3, My Hero Academia S6, Chainsaw Man, Tower of God S2, Spy x Family Part 2, Blue Lock, Bleach Thousand Year War Arc, Jujutsu Kaisen S2, and many more…
Of course, the huge amount of new releases meant that 2022 was chock-full of marketing campaigns. Some of theses shows decided to opt for the typical TV advertisements and billboard posters, while others released merchandise like figurines and toys. However, out of all the typical marketing collateral, there emerged a handful of brave contenders that decided to go for an entirely left-field option: collaborating with sneaker brands. Out of this handful, we picked our favourites from this year, so read on for the highlights of 2022’s Anime-Sneaker collaborations!
JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure: Stone Ocean x Converse All-Star
JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure (JJBA), arguably one of the most unique animes out there, has had no shortage of fascinating collaborations (check out one of the coolest collaborations between the worlds of fashion and anime, the Gucci x Hirohiko Araki x Spur Exhibition held at Gucci’s massive Shinjuku outlet in Japan).
In the lead-up to the airing of JJBA’s 5th season “Stone Ocean”, JoJo collaborated with Converse to drop a pair of All-Star high tops in the style of the season’s main protagonist, Jolyne Cujoh. The sneaker incorporates the character’s butterfly motifs, spiderweb-patterned clothes and iconic “JO” belt buckle into its design, making it a must-have for any JJBA fans out there.
Though these All-Stars only underwent limited release in Japan, you can check them out on SNKRDUNK here.
Naruto Shippuden x ASICS
The massive impact that Naruto and its sequel Naruto Shippuden have had on pop culture is undeniable – it’s near impossible to get anywhere without seeing at least a minor reference to the whopping 720-episode-long series. With that in mind, Naruto-inspired shoes and streetwear are nothing special. What’s interesting about these Naruto Shippuden x ASICS shoes is that they weren’t designed by the the manga’s creator Masashi Kishimoto, or anybody in the anime’s production team. Instead, this three-part collection sprung from the creative mind of Sebastien Abdelhamid, a French TV show host, for an Europe-exclusive release. Really shows how far and wide the anime’s influence has spread.
The collection consists of two different silhouettes and three colourways, each inspired by a different character. The red ASICS GEL-1130 (left) is based on Itachi, utilising the sinister cloud print of the Akatsuki, one of the story’s main antagonist groups to which Itachi belonged. The purple GEL-1130 (centre) is inspired by Itachi’s younger brother Sasuke, a primary deuteragonist (somewhere in between a hero and villain) of the story. Finally, the blue GEL-LYTE III (right) draws its colourway from Kakashi, mentor to both Itachi (before he turned bad) and Sasuke (also before he turned bad).
Fun fact: combining red and blue makes purple, so by combining Itachi’s red colours (representing evil) and Kakashi’s blues (symbolising good), you get Sasuke’s purple, standing somewhere in between. Other interesting additions to the collection’s design include the icons present on the tongues of each shoe, with the Mangekyou Sharingan showing up on “Itachi” and “Kakashi” colourways, while the Rinnegan Sharingan features on “Sasuke”. Abdelhamid, the designer, clearly put a huge amount of thought into creating the collection, which is exactly why we like it so much.
Check out the collection on SNKRDUNK here.
Attack on Titan x BAIT x adidas UltraBOOST
Countless anime watches owe their entry into the world of anime to Attack on Titan, a manga/anime that somehow manages to successfully combine action, horror, politics, drama and philosophical commentary into a beginner-friendly storyline. Despite delays and hiccups along the way, the anime still manages to kick up a fuss whenever a new season drops, and the most recent airing of Attack on Titan’s Season 4 Part 2 was no different.
American West Coast retailer BAIT is well-known to jump on any pop culture trend, so it wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass by. To celebrate the season’s successful run, BAIT partnered with adidas to produce a capsule that drew from scenes of Season 3 Part 2. This was the point when Eren Yaeger, our favourite angsty main character, went up against the Colossal Titan, who has one of the most iconic designs in the series. The adidas UltraBOOST that headlines the capsule is based off this exact character design, utilising the Colossal Titan’s exposed bones and cartilage as inspiration for the shoe’s off-white cage, highlights and inner lining. Meanwhile, the Titan’s blood-red muscle strands and flesh are represented on the remaining sections of the upper and midsole. This makes for a completely one-of-a-kind UltraBOOST, and we’re glad BAIT jumped on the hype train.
Find the BAIT x Attack on Titan x adidas UltraBOOST on SNKRDUNK here.
Jujutsu Kaisen x Dolce & Gabbana
Jujutsu Kaisen is on track to establishing its place as one of the ‘Next-gen Big 3’ in the manga and anime world. Fans have compared it to modern classics like Hunter x Hunter in terms of their enticing storylines, extremely complicated superpower systems, engaging characters and top-tier animation. Slowly but surely, Jujutsu Kaisen is cementing its influence in anime and pop culture – and in 2022, they made their very first step into the world of sneakers and luxury fashion.
To do so, they collaborated with Dolce & Gabbana, an Italian-born luxury fashion brand created by a pair of talented fashion designers-cum-business partners. D&G rose in the world of fashion by producing (primarily women’s) apparel which fused traditional Sicilian culture with modern elegance and style, contributing heavily to fashion trends such as the women’s pantsuit. Together with the director of Jujutsu Kaisen, Sunghoo Park, the collaboration produced a wide collection of apparel and artwork to match the central cast of the show.
Image from @kaikaikitan
The Jujutsu Kaisen x Dolce & Gabbana Collection consists of 8 streetwear outfits for 8 characters, 2 of which contained completely new Jujutsu Kaisen-themed sneakers. The D&G Daymaster Sneakers “Jujutsu College School Emblem” come in two different colourways (left and centre), worn by Megumi Fushiguro and Togi Inumake, two main protagonists in the series. Besides the vibrant, eye-catching colours, the most attention-grabbing aspect is the Jujutsu College School logo emblazoned on the outer side of the upper – an obvious reference that any fan will recognise.
The white D&G NS1 Sneakers (right), though not worn by any character, was also released as part of the collection. It features Jujutsu College colours and a slightly more subtle school logo alongside Jujutsu Kaisen hangtags.
Since its release in April 2022, fans have praised the collection for canonically representing the style and fashion sense of each character, displaying the level of depth the collaboration went to in order to produce the designs. Personally, we appreciate it as being one of the rare collisions between the world of high fashion and that of anime – hopefully this signals more to come!
Though the collection was released exclusively in Japan, the Jujutsu Kaisen x Dolce & Gabbana Collection is up globally on SNKRDUNK here.
Naruto x Jordan Zion 1
The Naruto x Jordan Zion 1 is arguably one of the most high-profile Anime-Sneaker collaborations this year. Besides it being a global release from Nike’s coveted Jordan Zion line, it came with 3 completely unique Zion 1 colourways for the main release, as well as 1 promo colourway for an additional Jordan 200E. Alongside this, the collaboration also dropped a comprehensive apparel collection with pieces matching each colourway, making the collection highly accessible for Naruto fans worldwide.
Each of the colourways sport colour palettes and design choices relating to individual characters from the ‘Big 3’ series. From the left to right: “Kyuubi”, “Sage of Six Paths”, “Nine Tails” and “Jonin”. The “Kyuubi” uses colours such as Electric Yellow, Alpha Orange and Black to pretty accurately represent Naruto’s “Nine Tails” and “Sage of Six Paths” mode, two of the main character’s most powerful transformations. The “Sage of Six Paths” colourway uses the same white and black dots present in the character design of the Sage of Six Paths, a godlike ancestor to the Shinobi. Next, the “Nine Tails” features jagged lines and static patterns in orange and black, representing Naruto’s “One/Four/Eight Tails” transformations. Finally, the “Jonin” mixes olive green, navy and white, the same colours present on the uniforms of the highly-ranked Jonin Shinobi who serve as military captains in the show. For more information and photos of the apparel collection, check out our release article.
If Zion Williamson wasn’t such an outspoken Naruto fan, we would be surprised at how well the various colourways represent each respective aspect of the show. However, he’s declared many times how the anime has helped him through some of the toughest years of his life – and this collection very easily portrays just how much Naruto means to him.
Grab one of the colourways from the Naruto x Jordan collection for yourself on SNKRDUNK.
Pokémon x Converse
Though Pokémon and Converse had previously collaborated in January 2022, their May 2022 collection caught our attention because of its uniquely minimalist take on an Anime Sneaker. This collaboration saw 4 pairs of Converse All-Star Chuck Taylors released to represent Pikachu, Mewtwo, Eevee and Charizard, classic Pokémon that are household names at this point.
Each Chuck Taylor utilises one key colour from the Pokémon’s design and contains a pixelated, 8-bit game character icon on the All-Star tongue tab. Another key aspect is a brief information textbox below the heel showing the character’s name, height, weight and Pokédex number. The blocky, black text is somewhat reminiscent of Off-White’s signature quotations (such as the “AIR” text on their Off-White Nike Air Force 1s).
We love this collaboration for how easily wearable each of its offerings are. Unlike the loud statement pieces most brands opt for, Converse went in the opposite direction, favouring minimalism instead. Despite this, each of the Chuck Taylors are very recognisable for the Pokémon they represent, making this collection unique in its simplicity.
Unfortunately, these unique Chucks haven’t made their way overseas yet, remaining confined to their Japan release in May.
Sailor Moon x Vans
In this day and age, Sailor Moon is considered to be one of anime’s iconic classics along with other highly-ranked series like Dragon Ball and One Piece. Known for its flashy visuals and wild transformation scenes, Sailor Moon had a deep influence on any anime and manga we see today. Countless brands have incorporated the pop culture icon’s glamorous designs and colours into their collections – and in July 2022, Vans did the same to celebrate Sailor Moon’s 30th anniversary.
The skate shoe giant separated their Sailor Moon collection into two parts: one focusing on the anime, and the other on the manga. The anime collection is pictured atop a dazzling pink, purple and baby blue foil, including a selection of Vans Sk8 Hi’s, Old Skools and Authentics. Depending on the silhouette, the sneakers are covered with a patchwork of scenes from the anime, character portraits, starry backgrounds or other motifs easily recognisable from the show. The most endearing aspect about the anime collection is just how well it represents the series – the vibrant colours, glistening surfaces and iconic characters all show up across the various sneakers.
Meanwhile, the manga sneaker collection is displayed atop a reflective black surface in monochrome colours. Each shoe contains a selection of panels from the manga, plastered across the surface of the upper as if they had been pulled from a manga volume and pasted onto the shoe.
The huge Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon x Vans collection does well to commemorate a long and rich 30 years since the beginning of Sailor Moon’s impactful run, and in a way celebrates manga and anime as a whole. You can check out the collection’s many offerings on SNKRDUNK here.
Demon Slayer x Skechers Sport
Demon Slayer has had an extremely successful run since Season 1 aired in 2019. It made waves in anime communities using some of the most fluid animation fans have seen, which coupled with a distinct art style, loveable characters and rich world-building is a winning formula. After managing to one-up an already crazy Season 1 not once, but twice over the past few years, it has easily cemented its spot as one of the ‘Next-gen Big 3’ along with Jujutsu Kaisen (covered above).
It was only a matter of time before an official Demon Slayer collaboration came out, and Skechers was the first to jump on the opportunity. The collection utilised two Skechers silhouettes, the Stamina V2 and Global Jogger. Each of the anime’s main cast received a colourway of their own, with each individual’s main colours and patterns somehow finding their way onto the design. For instance, the iconic green and black ichimatsu (chessboard) pattern found on Tanjiro’s kimono makes up the base surface of the Stamina V2 “Tanjiro”, while Zenitsu’s lightning-themed yellow and white triangle pattern shows up on the highlights and eyelets of the Global Jogger “Zenitsu”.
Like many other character-inspired anime sneakers, what stands out the most about this collaboration is how easily each shoe matches up with its respective character. Of course, the extremely distinct character design is a dead giveaway – but Skechers managed to translate many elements very nicely onto each colourway, so credit where credit is due. The Demon Slayer x Skechers collection dropped in Singapore a couple months ago in July, but you’ll be able to find it on SNKRDUNK here.
Pokémon x COMME des GARÇONS
Pokémon has had tons of collaborations this year – and we mean tons. This is all for good reason, as the legendary game company will be releasing two new main series games, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet in November 2022, as well as massive updates to the worldwide sensation Pokémon GO. Aside from two Converse collabs (covered above), they’ve created a capsule with The North Face, a MINI concept car with BMW, special meal sets with McDonald’s and more. We’d probably need a whole other article just to cover all the initiatives they’ve started within the past few months.
The newest addition to this rapidly expanding list is a teased upcoming collaboration with COMME des GARÇONS. CDG is one of the leaders in luxury streetwear – since their founding in Tokyo back in 1969, they’ve expanded worldwide and become one of the world’s most coveted luxury brands. The fact that they’re choosing to collaborate with Pokémon out of all brands is fascinating, but somehow unsurprising given the game and anime’s cultural impact.
Practically nothing is known about this collaboration, which is why it didn’t make it into the main list. CDG posted a shared logo online and immediately went radio silent, so it looks like we’ll just have to wait for more information to drop. Whatever happens, we’re excited to see what comes out of this collaboration.
Gundam x Nike
Ending off this list is our favourite Anime Sneaker collaboration so far. It’s only in honourable mentions because the pair released sneakers from 1998 to 2021, just barely missing out on the main list. In fact, the only reason why this list has an honourable mentions section is to include this collection.
The collaboration in question is between Gundam, the very first ‘mecha’ anime, and Nike, the sneaker industry’s top dog. Think about every mecha-suit you’ve seen in pop culture, be it Transformers, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Godzilla or Pacific Rim. All of these were – at least in part – inspired by Gundam.
Image via GQ
Nike has (very cleverly) capitalised on the Gundam franchise’s rich history by collaborating with them through the years. Their very first pair back in 1998, the Air Max 98 “Gundam” (left), combined the signature Gundam suit colours of red, blue, white and black into a single shoe. 20 years later, the classic colourway returned to storefronts in the form of a Retro. The widespread success of this re-release spurred Nike on to create an Air Max 97 “Gundam” (right), featuring the same colours in muted tones on the trippy, wavy silhouette.
Image via Nike
In 2021, Nike collaborated with Gundam toy maker Bandai to produce a Gundam-themed spin on the SB Dunk High, a silhouette that has made an enormous comeback in recent years. This addition produced two new colourways: the white/red/black/yellow “02 Banshee” (left) as well as the orange/black/blue/gold “RX-0 Unicorn” (right). Each colourway derives inspiration from the design of the Gundam mechas they’re named after, even incorporating unique aspects such as robot-like vents at the toe box, special stitching and Gundam logos. The coolest aspect of this collection is the removable Swoosh, which gives owners the stylistic choice between flashy (if attached) or casual (if removed).
Now, what is it that we love so much about this collaboration? If we had to say, it would be the way that each design honours the anime in an incredibly distinct way, from the classic AM98, to the neutral, wavy AM97, and finally the customisable SB Dunk High. Each consecutive release puts a new spin on the theme, giving the industry a shining example about the massive potential of Anime-Sneaker collaborations.