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15 Raf Simons Sneakers You Should Know, Ranked

Raf Simons Hero 0
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It’s no secret that chunky sneakers have been the wave for the past year or so. Sneaker trends ebb and flow, but when did this specific movement first crop up? A craze as ubiquitous as oversized sneakers rarely appears overnight. Long before Balenciaga dropped the Triple S or Kanye released the Yeezy 500, Belgian menswear designer Raf Simons was already hard at work, releasing vibrant and unorthodox sneakers. With the release of the Ozweego 1 in 2013, Simons cemented himself as a major figure not only in high-fashion, but also in sneaker culture and streetwear at large.

 

Both before and after the release of the Ozweego 1, Simons has consistently released some pretty monumental kicks. Before his collabs with Adidas, the designer had already put out some unstoppable sneakers, like the Velcro Strap High of 2010 or the flashy “De Stijl” hiking boots from his 2008 collection. We rounded up the greatest sneakers of his long history as a designer; check them out below.

These trainers were a huge milestone in Raf’s illustrious career as a designer. Released in 2009, the technical trainers foreshadowed the ever-changing sneaker landscape of the 2010s. Featuring pops of color against a relatively muted silhouette, the trainers were not hugely hyped following their release. It took the sneaker community years to acclimate to this genre of shoe, but ten years later, colorful “ugly” shoes are popping up on both runways and the streets.

Yeezy season approaching. The all-red Ozweegos caused a huge stir with their release in 2014. That said, we’re ranking them so low on the list for their lack of longevity. They’re amazing sneakers and a great use of the silhouette, but they’re very much a product of an era. These kicks are a result of the monochrome-red wave of the post-Red October period. They’re beautiful shoes, but we just don’t see a ton of tonal red kicks out on the streets these days.

13. Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego Replicant

Ozweego Replicant
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These Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego Replicants earned a spot on the list because of their surprising take on what had become a classic shoe. Simons and Adidas could only release so many colorways before they’d have to make some major alterations to the silhouette. The added cut-out fits the bill. These kicks are sold with corresponding socks to give the exact right pop of color. It’s a hell of a pair of sneakers, and the beautiful blue, white and lavender colorway is one to remember.

12. Raf Simons x Adidas Stan Smith Strap

Stan Smith Strap
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If it’s illegal to love these Stans, then lock me up. Throughout the run of Raf Simons’ collaborations with Adidas, the team has released a multitude of variations on the iconic tennis sneaker: the Stan Smith. Although other iterations rank higher on our  list, the Stan Smith Strap in Royal Blue/Red holds a special place in my heart. The Stan Smith is a sneaker traditionally loved for its simplicity, so this obnoxious take on the muted shoe presents an interesting dichotomy. With the incorporation of straps (Raf does seem to love straps), the sneakers are taken to the next level. These aren’t just your run-of-the-mill tennis shoes; this pair of sneakers is a statement piece.

11. Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego Bunny

Ozweego Bunny
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Y’all really think Virgil Abloh was the first to print words on sneakers? Think again. This 2017 release of the Ozweego, dubbed the “Ozweego Bunny,” features sparse instructions printed along the side. Below the laces reads: “KEEP DOUBLE LACED TO HOLD FIRMLY” and each heel features a small, bolded “RAF SIMONS." The cream-colored chunky sneaker predates the Yeezy 500 and the OFF-WHITE Jordan 1s, so remember that your favorite sneaker designers were actually just taking cues from the greatest of them all: Mr. Simons himself.

One of these sneakers doesn’t look like the others! This is the rarest pair of kicks on the list, and although you don’t see them often, their influence is everywhere. Released in 2008, the “De Stijl” hiking boot features a Mondrian-influenced color palette splashed onto an unorthodox silhouette. It’s tough to tell if the boots look futuristic or antiquated, but they certainly don’t look like they’re from this era—or 2008 for that matter. A$AP Rocky rocked the kicks on a performance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2013. Despite their rarity, the boots paved the way for a lot of the color-experimentation that began burgeoning in sneaker design in the early 2010s.

Now we start to really get into the hits. The velcro lows are such an unbelievable low-profile sneaker, in both white and black. Crafted with beautiful leather, these shoes have cemented themselves as one of the most iconic releases of Simons’s career since 2010. Considering that these predate his first collaborations with Adidas, their staying power is especially extraordinary. It’s a gorgeous shoe, but one that’s becoming increasingly more difficult to get your hands on.

8. Raf Simons x Adidas Detroit Runner

Detroit Runner
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Fast-forward to 2018. Simons debuted a now-beloved silhouette with Adidas. The Detroit Runner, which exists in the interspace between sneaker, boot and shoe, is a next-level expansion on the chunky shoe trend. Despite a slim upper, the sneaker features an excessively chunky sole, giving it a uniquely ballooned silhouette. It’s a surprisingly heavy shoe, taking cues from the density of the Balenciaga Triple S. The low top’s release was followed by a high-top version, which came out in early 2019.

7. Raf Simons x Adidas Micropacer Stan Smiths

Micropacer Stan
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These might be a bit of a surprise, but I think they’re one of the most interesting iterations of the Stan Smith. Similar to the aforementioned strap Stans, these shoes do a good job of upending the notion of Stan Smiths as minimal. In an era overrun with chunky sneakers (these released in 2019), it’s interesting to see Raf and Adidas taking chances on some of their slimmer silhouettes as well. They’ve also been selling for way under their retail, so if you’re looking for a semi-budget pair of Rafs, these might be an option for you.

6. Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego 2

Ozweego 2
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This is arguably the Ozweego iteration that catapulted the silhouette from only a Raf-enthusiast’s essential to a sneakerhead staple. Both the white colorway and the black, blue and pink made appearances in massive music videos—like 2017’s “RAF” by A$AP MOB—and decisively put Raf Simons on the map as the preeminent sneaker designer for those who want to flex.

5. Raf Simons x Adidas Stan Smith

Pastel Stans
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2014 to 2015 was a huge era for Adidas and Raf Simons. The Ozweego II debuted, which brought more recognition to the collaborations. The monochrome Stan Smiths were also released in Spring 2015, during the peak of the Stan Smith revival. Although there was a previous Stan Smith release in 2014 (which featured the traditional white/green Stan Smith colorway with a simple “R” in place of the three stripes), the 2015 releases set off a huge wave of monochrome and pastel sneakers. The pale blue iteration is a must-have for any sneakerhead with a love of pastels.

In the aftermath of Kanye West’s recent announcement of his upcoming Clog, we have been forced to reckon with the influence of the clog/water-shoe hybrid that is the Croc. But years before Kanye and Steven Smith could riff on the rubber shoes, Simons had already integrated a Croc-like strap into his sneaker design. The Response Trail sneaker from 2015 controversially featured a dense foam strap along its heel. And while some once dubbed these sneakers ugly, they’ve become a mainstay of Raf Simons x Adidas aficionados’ collections. This sneaker is increasingly difficult to find online, but their unique mix of technical and gaudy aesthetics lands them a spot in our top five.

The final three on this list could have all taken the top spot. The Velcro Highs are a revelation. They encapsulate everything good and wonderful about a pair of sneakers. They’re low-profile, but the thick velcro straps and ankle-height upper give them a flamboyant flair. Worn with long, wide pants, they provide an amazing canvas for draping and stacking. Worn with skinny, cropped pants, they glisten as standalone high-tops. They’re sneakers, but their high-quality leather gives them a pseudo-formal feel. They toe the line between sneaker and shoe, minimal and gaudy, clean and extreme. God bless the Raf Simons Velcro High.

It’s difficult to identify what I like most about these sneakers. Is it the accented, yellow stitching? Is it the blue and red metallic eyelets? The clean gray sole? The Response Trail Robot earned its number two spot on this list because of its ineffability. It's not a vibrant, colorful sneaker like the Ozweegos, nor is it a relatively muted, formal sneaker like the velcro highs and lows. Inspired by vintage astronaut suits, this iteration of the Response Trail is a God-tier sneaker. It’s low-key enough to be integrated into a plethora of different looks, while the metallic accents give it a standout visual style. A sneaker deemed too weird upon its 2015 release now seems rather subdued compared to the increasingly wacky pairs of the past half-decade. It’s an amazing sneaker, and one of the most wearable options on our list. Good luck finding them though!

1. Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego 1

Ozweego 1
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“Dad shoe” has not always been a term of sneaker endearment. I vividly remember trawling sneaker forums in the early 2010s and reading plenty of messages along the lines of, “Who would wear these ugly dad shoes?” These messages were directed at the Ozweego 1, the greatest Raf Simons sneaker release of all time. How times change. 


This colorway is unrivaled. The sultry pink, the emerald green, the popping yellow. All the hues work together to create a beautiful, unified sneaker. Simons has an eye for color, and nowhere is this more clear than in this first collaboration with Adidas. Aside from the shoe’s unbelievable chromatic arrangement, the Ozweego 1 earns its number one spot on this list because of its influence. One of the earliest iterations of the chunky dad shoe aesthetic, the sneakers were spotted on the likes of A$AP Rocky (though not this exact colorway), and ultimately contributed to the growing ubiquity of traditionally “ugly” shoes in hip hop style. Without the 1, we would have never had the Ozweego 2, the Trail Response, the Ozweego Bunny, the Yeezy 500 or the Balenciaga Triple S. For your monumental contribution to the sneaker landscape, we thank you, Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego 1.

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