Sneaker Politics

Sneaker mashups are an inevitability in the business today. In an effort to create more product that we can handle, brands will go back in their archives to look for inspiration and sometimes they come back with something original and other times they end up with things like the kicks that made these lists. Plugging together disparate parts to form a shoe can sometimes result in something new and exciting but most of the time they feel like the result of a brand running low on ideas at the time. Since it’s Halloween today (avoid any and all clowns today or most days, really), we’ve put together some of the more notorious sneaker mashups of our time including a few that are flying under the radar that actually helped out the brand in the long run.

1Nike Air Max A Lot

And we’re starting things off with a ban… nah, it’s a thud. A loud, vile, sickening thud. As it turns out when you put together Scottie Pippen’s most iconic sneakers it’s a cluster***k of epic proportions. Despite its kitsch construction, the Nike Air More Uptempo is one of most beloved Nike Basketball sneakers of the 1990s. If even one thing is off in that shoe’s design it is a disaster. But Nike had the guts and the fortitude to see that release through and owned it confidently to iconic status. The fact that it is a classic now is a testament to Nike’s design prowess. The Air Max A Lot on the other hand is a testament to Nike’s desire to cash in on their past. I don’t know if Pippen got any royalty checks for this one, but if he did, I hope he sent them back out of embarrassment or at least he called Nike to make sure his name is nowhere near this mess.

2Jordan Son Of Mars Low

If were being totally honest here the Jordan Spizike is not that great of a shoe. However, its historical significance as a Jordan mashup – one of the first of its kind – cannot be denied and whenever it comes back there is a spike (pun intended) in interest for Spike Lee’s history with MJ. The problem is that they should have left things alone, but instead Jordan Brand unleashed the turd that is the Jordan Son of Mars and it’s unfortunate offspring the Son of Mars Low. I’m sure you can fool more than a few people into thinking you have the Black Cement 3s, but your guilty conscience should haunt you forever for wearing these.

3Jordan 6-17-23

So imagine for a second that Jordan Brand did not make the iconic Countdown Packs and decided the best way to play math with retros is being combining them into the horrific mashups like the 6-17-23? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have an actual Air Jordan 6 and Air Jordan 17 and pay the sneaker pack premium than this dumpster fire.

4Prada Levitate

So there’s a good chance you haven’t even seen these shoes before. Consider yourself lucky, I guess. I had no idea these existed until I saw them inside a Nordstrom a few years back. At first, I thought it was some horrible Nike collaboration that went horribly wrong but it turns out there’s an entire suite of them called the Levitate Collection that includes oxfords, loafers and boots. You know, there’s a reason Nike and Cole Haan hid the air bubbles when they released luxury shoes with Nike Air inside. And there’s also a reason while Cole Haan used Lunar and Free instead of visible Air and were successful at it while Prada’s attempts look like somebody lost a bet at the creative meetings.

5Nike Lil’ Penny Posite

 

Second to only Michael Jordan, Penny Hardaway has had a successful sneaker career because Nike Sportswear has parlayed his brand into a lot of spin off sneakers including the legendary Nike Air Foamposite One. The Nike Zoom Rookie, the Nike 1/2 Cent and countless other kicks all have the Penny DNA, but not all of them are winners. Case in point, the Nike Lil Penny Posite, which borrows heavily from the Foams and the Nike Air Up. That sounds like a recipe for success, but it turns out to be more of a souless cash-in more than an actual inspirational choice.

6Reebok Q96

So I actually happen to own a pair of the Reebok Q96 and at the very least they are comfortable basketball shoes to play in. That being said bringing back the Question for the modern era and adding modern design touches instead of saying just improving the cushioning was not a good idea. The things that made the Question so beloved get lost in the translation and what results is a serviceable basketball shoe that ends appealing to no one.

7Jordan Fusion (All Of Them)

There’s an entire list dedicated to how bad these damn things are. Just read that and come back here when you’re done.

8Nike Dunk Golf

Now I happen to love the idea of putting Dunks on the links. Actually I’m a big fan of what Nike is doing right now and bringing iconic silhouettes like the Air Jordan 6 or the Nike Air Max 90 onto the golf course but I think they learned their lesson with the Dunks because these were so damn uncomfortable. The feedback Nike Golf must have received from these forced them to the drawing board and make them wearable.

9adidas EQT Boost

Now you’re probably looking at this pair right now and wondering how it made the list. It’s not because of this model in particular – they’re actually pretty cool – but it’s also setting a dangerous precedent for adidas. Imagine an adidas Crazy 8 with Boost. Ugly, right? That could be the future we’re staring at if adidas just decides to add Boost to everything and call it a day. It’s the Jordan Fusion scenario all over again. Hopefully Originals learned from that mess and is more careful with their future Boost mashups.

10Any Payless Or Wal-Mart Sneaker With Shaq’s Name On It

 

Shaquille O’Neal deserves all the credit for using his brand to create products that low-income households are able to afford for their kids. He hasn’t had a new sneaker of any relevance since the Shaqnosis in the ’90s but I don’t think he minds if kids that can’t afford a pair of retros can wear something that looks close enough to the real thing and he makes a few bucks along the way. That being said, I wish Shaq and whoever designs these things would spend some time and money creating actual heat and not just ripping off Nike and adidas at every turn.