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The Best Sneakerhead Packaging

by Shawn Binder on 10/21/2019 | 7 Minute Read

This past year, I attended Coachella for the second and final time in my life. After two years in the desert getting dehydrated, sun-burnt, and acquiring enough dust in my lungs to give my doctor reason for concern, I’ve decided that I’m too old for this shit. 

But at my last Indio hurrah, my friend, a pretty staunch fashion advocate, kept having men come up to him saying “sick kicks, man” or “those shoes are incredible, where did you get them?” The sneakers were the Nike Air Fear of God 1, which launched at a retail value of $350 but have since gone on to sell for $550- $750. 

I wouldn’t know until later that his pair were remarkably convincing knock-offs from China. Still, the whole exchange left me dumbfounded and trying to understand the economy of sneakerheads is fascinating. 

Sneakerheads is the colloquial name for people who are impassioned by sneakers, and many have gone on to make a pretty sweet living purchasing shoes at release, and then reselling them on sites like StockX for a much higher price. The community itself is one that is draped in luxury, collaboration, and immersed in the world of high-fashion. Major fashion houses have collaborated with shoe brands such as Nike, Reebok, and Adidas; the lure is that each of those collaborations is limited-edition, and as rare as a Trump supporter who reads RAW Story as a new source. 

Celebrities or pop-stars have gone on to do limited-run collaborations with shoe brands, luring customers out of the woodwork who want to wear a piece of their favorite icons. But there is also an element of whimsy to the sneaker community as some lines find inspiration in things like teddy bears, wasabi, and gaming consoles. Not only are the shoes luxury and well-made, but the packaging they come in is also an extension of the experience, one where the unboxing becomes as powerful as the shoes themselves.

If you’re checking SneakerNews daily, then this one's for you; our love-letter to all the sneakerheads out there. Here are some of the most beautifully designed packaging out there.

The Nike SB Dunk “Black Hornet”

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Crafted for the NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, this Black Sheep x Nike collaboration dubbed “Black Hornet” is a tribute to the hometown basketball team. Besides the shoes being a gorgeous black and midnight blue high-top, the package itself remains true to the shoe name. Textured and colored like a hornet’s nest, the diecut of the famous Nike logo reveals hornets with honeycombs underneath.

The Jordan Why Not Zer0.2 Goes “Bear Jordan” For Valentine’s Day

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When a box of chocolates won't do on Valentine’s Day, at least you'll have these adorable Jordans. These shoes are bonkers, utilizing a fur top to drive home the Teddy Bear inspiration. The shoes themselves come in a geometric heart box held by a real teddy bear wearing, yup, smaller versions of the sneakers you see in the box. The box itself utilizes the logo “Own the Chaos,” which is a bit disturbing, but, hey, you do you on Valentine's.

As an adorable final touch, the lining of the shoes uses an image of chocolates in a box. These shoes are such a sweet treat to the sneakerhead in your life we might throw up. Scratch that, we definitely did.

Jordan Why Not Zer0.2 - Nintendo

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The shoes feature a mixture of grey hues with green and burgundy accents, all mirrored directly from the original 1989 black-and-white Nintendo Game Boy. The console-inspired kicks don’t stop at the shoes as the hangtag was made to look like an OG grey Game Boy game cartridge, and the box is a wild replica of the device. Anyone else’s thumbs hurt just from looking at this box? Just me? If not, you were doing childhood wrong.

The BAIT x Marvel x Puma Cell Venom + Carnage Kits

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Anti-hero Venom and his recent trip to the big screen inspired these two-tone shoes, and their design uses elements of the creature's aesthetic to drive this home. The packaging itself embraces the lore of the comic book franchise with the tube containing the shoes, and they've even added a shoe for Spiderman villain Carnage as well, likely since Woody Harrelson seems poised to play Venom's symbiote kin in the next installment.

KITH x Coca Cola x Converse Chuck Taylor 1970s

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This KITH x Coca Cola collaboration with Converse calls back to the look of the 1970s version of the iconic Chuck Taylors with Coca Cola emblazed on the sides in the familiar red font. The packaging for the collaboration features the classic Coca-Cola label, and inside they include a glass bottle of Coke in case you get thirsty walking around in these bad boys.

General Mills, Nike & Kyrie Irving

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Soda companies, film studios, and sports teams—is there any company shoe brands won’t get in bed with? Look no further than this deliciously off the cuff collaboration between General Mills, Nike, and Nets star Kyrie Irving. Based on the popular cereals Lucky Charms, Corn Puffs, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, these shoes are colorful and have some of the most fun boxes we’ve seen. 

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The packaging is a unique take on the brand's original cereal boxes, but with a glorious NBA-sheen; for example, Sir Charms can be seen dribbling his pot of gold. Unfortunately, this collaboration sold out within 30 minutes of their release in pop-up stores, but the playful nature of these boxes will live on forever.

Bodega x Asics Gel Lyte V “Geocached”

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If you’re unfamiliar with what “Geocaching” is, it is when you use coordinates to locate buried or hidden boxes. Although it is a competitive game for some, Bodega and Asics teamed up for a fun take on this craze that's been around since 2000.

The super limited-edition shoes were only available in stores in five cities across the US and came packaged in a traditional looking Geocache box. The best part? If you found a pair of them, they came with a custom champagne bottle, a stack of dollar bills totaling $100, a collaboration jacket, and a USB with a “Get Wet” mixtape. If you were a sneakerhead lucky enough to grab one of these, you struck gold.

Calvin Johnson’s New? Signature Shoe

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Nike caused waves with the unveiling of Calvin Johnson’s signature shoes, particularly with its bold packaging. The colorful cleats came in a vibrant radioactive barrel that utilizes a stunning combination of colors, including Photo Blue, and Bright Crimson for the Flyweave upper and Volt accents. Before you snag a pair on whatever black shoe market sites you frequent, might we suggest picking up a Geiger counter first?

Nike LeBron X+ “Crown Jewel”

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LeBron really wants everyone who wears a pair of his collaboration with Nike to feel like a Prince or Princess. Each shoe comes wrapped in a velvet bag, which is beyond extra, and I love it. Additionally, the package for the shoes itself is a sturdy, plastic jewel so you can look like royalty even when you’re transporting them.

Adidas Star Wars Sneakers

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This Adidas x Star Wars collaboration is for all the sci-fi nerds out there. Or, I suppose this could also be for the people who really enjoy collectible action-figures, especially ones that take you back to the 80s and 90s bubble pack. This kitschy shoe packaging is another way you can hold a piece of a galaxy far far away in your hand.

Adidas Releases Futurecraft.Loop, The Shoe That's 'Made To Be Remade'

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These shoes might look like just another running shoe, but the secret is in its design is that it is built to be remade. Typical running shoes get bonded with materials that can contaminate the recycling process, but this shoe comes from TPU—thermoplastic urethane—and it's engineered to be bonded together with heat, requiring zero glue or chemicals.

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The entire shoe—even the packaging that resembles a medical IV bag—is made from the same material, simplifying the whole recycling process.

The Saucony Grid8500 "Ramen"

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When you think of Ramen, maybe you think of a quick meal for college kids or a cozy snack on a cold winter night. For sneakerheads, Ramen has taken on another meaning. The Saucony Grid8500 "Ramen" at first glance might look like a normal black box, but upon opening, you'll find that the shoes come in a ramen noodle bag. The package goes so far as to say “cooks in three minutes,” and “100% fake nutrition." The shoes themselves are cream and light brown, with the edges having stringed lines in the texture resembling the shape of ramen noodles.