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9 Rocking Music Sneakers You Wish You Would've Copped

A raging Led Zeppelin fan recounts his favorite music and sneaker collabs

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Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin has always been my favorite band. From the first time I heard them on my dad’s XM car radio to my first live Zeppelin concert (well, it was a tribute band that my mom shelled out $50 a ticket for on a school night), it has felt like a Conway x Zeppelin collaboration ever since. When I saw the band’s logo and cover art canvasing a pair of Vans, it was a truly special moment.

Sneaker collaborations often happen when music and lifestyle trends intersect creatively. In celebration of this culture, I want to share some of my favorite artist-inspired kicks: 

wu tang fight club yellow sneaker
Flight Club

Nike SB Dunk High x Wu-Tang Clan 1999, 2015

Catch these on: A millionaire sneakerhead or an actual member of Wu-Tang Clan.

Why I love them: This sneaker is so exclusive that even Method Man needs them to retro so he can get a pair.

 

Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to fuck with and neither was their collab with Nike SB. During the genesis of the popularity of the Nike SB Dunk, the rap group linked up with the swoosh for one of the most coveted colorways to grace the silhouette. With a black-and-yellow theme similar to that of the Iowa colorway, the can’t-miss Wu-Tang “W” on the heel is a serious differentiator to some regular Dunk Highs. It was a release limited to just 36 pairs.

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rockafella white sneaker nike
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Nike Air Force 1 Roc-A-Fella Records 2004, 2017

Best for: That old-head you know who thinks Alife makes the best streetwear.

Why I love them: This sneaker is New York incarnate. A “White/White” Air Force 1 with an homage to the “Roc” is *chef’s kiss.*

The Roc-A-Fella Air Force 1 is as classic as classic gets. A simple white-on-white design with a small Roc-A-Fella logo hit on the heel, the sneaker was a certified grail straight out of the gate. Debuting as a promotional item in 1999, this colorway is said to have set the blueprint for future sneaker collabs.

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bape fight club kanye dropout bear
Flight Club

Bape x Kanye West, 2007

You’ll get these when: When you secure that bag and make a lavish purchase on Flight Club.

Why I love them: Brings me back to the album that brought me (and several others) into the Kanye fandom. Also, it represents a simpler time when Ye was the king of pop culture.

Back when Kanye was still the man, he released what has come to be considered one of the most coveted sneaker collabs of all time. In participation with Bape designer Nigo, the Kanye West “Dropout Bear” Bapesta was born. The iconic and lovable mascot from his College Dropout album graces the heel cup of the sneaker, seeming to peer over the brown and cream leathers that host the jagged star. The silhouette mirrors that of Nike’s Air Force 1, but the jagged star and impossible-to-miss bear mascot truly separate this sneaker from the pack.

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public enemy vans high tops
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Vans x Supreme x Public Enemy, 2016

Made for: People who camped out at Supreme and possibly Flavor Flav.

Why I love them: The bold yellow/green/red color scheme on the logo, laces and upper makes this a super-attractive sneaker. Not to mention, they're the perfect synergy between the three brands.

2016 saw a monster of a sneaker collaboration: legendary rap group Public Enemy and streetwear giant Supreme with Vans. The anti-establishment tone of Public Enemy’s music gels perfectly with the grunge of both Supreme and Vans. The colorful collaboration features hits of green, red and yellow with branding on the ankle and midsole. A loud colorway from a group with a loud message makes for an ideal sneaker. 

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kendrick lamar reebok white blue red
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Reebok x Kendrick Lamar, 2016

Best for: K. Dot fans!

Why I love them: Kendrick using his platform to de-escalate neighborhood violence through a cool medium like sneakers? Amazing. 

 

Similar to the late, great Nipsey Hussle, superstar rapper Kendrick Lamar has been using his platform to advocate for peace in his hometown of Compton, California. In numerous collaborations with Reebok, Lamar’s crossing colors of red and blue has been seen on multiple silhouettes, including the Ventilator, Club C and Classic Leather. We particularly love the Classic Leather Deconstructed, which has a nice leather upper with red and blue hits on the tongue and Reebok branding.

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led zeppelin high top sneakers
Nordstrom

Vans x Led Zeppelin, 2019

My ratingFive out of five! ?????

Why I love them: Did you read the intro? Thanks, Mom and Dad!

 

Vans collaborated with Led Zeppelin this year for the band’s 50th anniversary. Featuring an allover print of the four members’ individual symbols on the Era model (not shown) and the same emblems on the ankle of the Vans Sk8-Hi silhouette (pictured above), the collab includes the band’s most iconic imagery.

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vans david bowie yellow
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Vans x David Bowie, 2019

Who would wear: An edgy theater kid who auditioned at NYU but didn’t get in.

Why I love them: Bowie’s passing in 2016 was tragic, and his contribution to music had such a prominent impact on my life and music taste. I hope this collaboration shines as brightly as he did.

 

Vans keeps the rock train rolling in 2019 with a six-sneaker collaboration paying homage to late rock star David Bowie. Featuring iconic Bowie themes, like lightning-bolt graphics, and a bold color palette, the collab includes many different aesthetics from his legendary career. We like the Slip-On 47 V because it features Vans’ staple checkerboard pattern with some yellow Bowie flair, complete with aVelcro strap across the forefoot. The more slept-on silhouette makes a strong statement in this collection.

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the sex pistols dr marten boot
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Dr. Martens x The Sex Pistols, 2019

These are good for: Anyone who prefers fish and chips as a go-to meal and hates big government.

Why I love them: The Sex Pistols are awesome. Whether or not you like their look or their music, this is a perfect collab that most could get behind.

 

When you google “synergy,” the first thing that should come up is this collab. From attitude and aesthetic to being on-brand, this mash-up checks all the boxes. Entrenched in rebellion and youth culture, the large graphic print of Sid Vicious on the Dr. Martens 1460 high-top boot is just about as punk rock as it gets. Whether you’re stomping around the stage like Sid or crushing the daily commute in style, the Sex Pistols x Dr. Martens are a go-to.

Related: 50 Iconic Sneakers Under $150 That Are Still Dope

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vans a tribe called quest black
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Vans x A Tribe Called Quest, 2018

Catch these on: See the Roc-A-Fella x Nike Air Force 1 entry above.

Why I love them: Great execution by brand and band.

 

First things first: RIP to Phife Dawg. Similar to the David Bowie collection, Vans partnered with rap group A Tribe Called Quest for a multi-sneaker collab. Playing with the group’s cover art, allover prints and other stylistic elements, these sneakers are a must-have for any true ATCQ fan. I particularly like the Authentic silhouette, which features a black-and-white pattern and a track list written on the upper.

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