A History of How Skinny Jeans Became Hip-Hop’s Denim of Choice

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Skinny jeans have always been as polarizing as they are narrow. Although they got their start with punk rockers like the Ramones and rock n’ roll sex symbols like Iggy Pop, it was within the hyper-masculine world of hip-hop that the pant began to challenge traditional notions of toughness. While the skinny was present during hip-hop’s glam-tinged genesis, it was the baggy “roughneck” style that dominated during the 1990s and became synonymous with the genre. When a new generation of rappers started wearing skinny jeans in the mid ’00s, it not only changed the history of denim’s imprint on hip-hop style, but also how men could express themselves at large. What was once the subversive, gender-bending uniform beloved by the underground and sneered at by OGs, has become a wardrobe staple for mainstream rappers today.

So what is the secret of the skinny’s success, and how did it wind up on top?

1982: When Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five released their magnum opus, “The Message,” the cover came with a photo of the South Bronx group dressed in slender-cut jeans and shiny leather pants. The style reflected a moment of transition between the glam-rock decoration of the mid ’70s and 1980s athleisure. Taking cues from the downtown punk scene and their slim, leather-clad looks, the group represented an exciting fusion: part glam-drama, part biker gang, part ’80s pop opulence. Whether in denim, leather, or suede, the Furious Five liked their trousers tight.

1988: As hip-hop evolved as an art form and spread around the country, the glam-inspired uniforms associated with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five shifted to reflect the everyday uniforms of the teens and young adults who were intrinsic to the culture. Photographer Jamel Shabazz’s street snaps of 1980s Brooklyn capture how jeans and denim trucker jackets provided an authentic contrast to showy performance wear — reinforcing the reality behind the music, the places it was consumed and increasingly produced. At the same time, acts like Beastie Boys and Public Enemy’s Chuck D took what was happening in rock and channeled it through the filter of hip-hop by mixing slim jeans over high tops.

2007: Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish of The Cool Kids are widely credited with kickstarting rap’s skinny jean renaissance in the mid 2000s. It was this underground duo who paved the way for the Cudis, Chances, and Young Thugs of today with their loose, goofy, self-empowering brand of hip-hop — dubbed at the time “hipster hop.” The Chicago natives introduced retro vintage style like snapbacks, American Apparel–type stripe tees, and, of course, their brightly colored skinnies. What’s more, they made 2000s sneakerhead culture an integral part of hip-hop, rocking the SBs and Jordans that would influence everyone from A$AP Mob to Odd Future.

2008: While they may not be considered skinny in comparison to today’s spray-on pants, Pharrell was an early adopter of slim-fit jeans when wide cuts and sagging was at its peak. It was around this time Pharrell segued out of his baggy BBC and BAPE jeans to switch it up with slender styles teamed with tight SpongeBob SquarePants tees and white-rimmed glasses — no doubt a nod to the nu-rave scene happening in East London at the time. Andrew Luecke, author of Cool: Style, Sound, and Subversion, sees the current skinny jeans trend in hip-hop as a direct lineage from skateboarding in the 2000s. He cites skaters Jim Greco and Andrew Reynolds as influencing artists like Pharrell, who brought the new aesthetics of skating into hip-hop.

2009: When SoCal rap group New Boyz dropped their album Skinny Jeanz and a Mic, the release opened with the track “Cricketz,” which addressed the controversy that surrounded their bright neon and checkered skinny jeans. “Jeans / stay skinny like I starve my fabric,” Legacy raps. “Aye another damn thing / You’ll never see me care about another man’s jeans.” The line was a response to Jay-Z’s attack on his 2008 track “Swagga Like Us,” where he rapped, “Can’t wear skinny jeans ’cause my knots don’t fit … So I rock Roc jeans ’cause my knots so thick.” Baggy had been de rigueur in hip-hop for so long it was easy to forget that 25 years prior rappers had proudly worn tight denim.

2009: While Kanye West claimed he “made it so we could wear tight jeans” in a 2016 Twitter battle with Wiz Khalifa, he certainly wasn’t the first in his peer group to wear tight trousers. But West was right to contend that he made skinny designer denim ubiquitous. It was Ye, after all, who stormed Taylor Swift’s 2009 VMAs speech wearing a pair of Balmain biker jeans. In 2010, he introduced the rap world to Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme denim line on the track “Christian Dior Denim Flow” — a song that represents the tipping point for male rappers dropping baggy fits in favor of something narrower.

2010: In May 2010, Bay Area rapper Lil B The BasedGod tweeted, “my pants are so tiny I shud be awarded….. I’m wearing ass jeans so tiny I cudnt zip them up. TINY PANTS MOB.” His penchant for skinny fits had come after his departure from The Pack, the rap group known for their baggy fits and Vans. The BasedGod loved skinny jeans so much he dedicated a whole track to them in 2012, a snapshot of his off-the-wall brand of allyship alluding to the homophobia that often clung to said pants within hip-hop at the time. “Tiny Pants yeah, and I’m riding on a full tank / Bulletproof vest, purple jeans looking fruity,” is one of the track’s less salacious lines.

2011: Some rappers go through a style evolution. Some go through a pure sartorial metamorphosis, channeling a different vibe entirely. Platinum-selling Grammy winner Lil Wayne underwent the latter. When Weezy got into skating in 2010, we witnessed a transformation from Magnolia Projects chic to SoCal skater. By 2011, Wayne had reached peak rock star when he hit the VMAs stage in a pair of women’s leopard print jeggings from Tripp NYC. (This same year even OG rapper Jay-Z wore slim jeans right along with everyone else — despite his lyrical assertion to the contrary.)

2014: When Kid Cudi released his breakout hit “Day ‘N’ Nite” in 2008, it not only created a new genre blending electronic indie music with hip-hop that would become a cornerstone in modern rap, but produced an amalgamation of sartorial styles. In the track’s video, Cudi appears dressed in skinny brown jeans, leather jacket, and beanie, a signature look from the house indie scenes at the time. Fast-forward to 2014 and skinnies were still a mainstay in Cudi’s wardrobe. The outfits he wore during two weekend performances at Coachella that year became a benchmark for men’s fashion. The first was a pair of dusty stone-washed skinny denim shorts worn with a vintage cherry-red crop top. The second was an artfully distressed pair of jeans worn with a vintage T-shirt.

2015: By the mid-2010s, the new guard of hip-hop style led by Theophilus London, Travis Scott, and A$AP Rocky began pushing a second wave of genre- and gender-bending fits. For a second, Balmain’s waxed biker jeans were all the rage. Next, it was all about extremely skinny cuts and chain-embellished denim from Saint Laurent, much like those worn by Young Thug at a 2016 VFILES show. While jeans had gotten tighter, they evolved with longer lengths that allowed them to be stacked and become baggy at the ankles, offering some added texture to the ultra-tight look.

2017: After a decade-long reign, the skinny reached its peak in 2017. No longer a symbol of subversion, the skinny’s place in mainstream rap was secured by Mike Amiri’s infamous ripped jeans — a staple for acts like Migos, 21 Savage, and Lil Uzi Vert. While Amiri’s designs might have all the hallmarks of traditional rock ’n’ roll style — such as rips, bandana patches and chain embellishments — he doesn’t see his design aesthetic connected to the genre of music itself, but rather the modern rock stars of today. It was during this time the skinny became even tighter (with more distressing) and often paired with chunky sneakers like Balenciaga’s Triple-S or Yeezy military boots.

2019: The roots of sagging pants can be traced back to the baggy fits of ’90s hip-hop, but throughout the mid 2010s, Chicago drill rappers like Chief Keef and Fredo Santana evolved the look with slimmer jeans worn stacked at the ankle. The trend is still very much alive thanks to rappers like 22Gz or Sauce Walka, who often wear low-riding fits with B.B. Simon belts as a homage to ’00s-era rappers like Max B, Jim Jones, and Juelz Santana.

2021: Today’s nostalgia-driven trend cycles have seen rappers return to classic wide-leg ’90s fits that Tupac would have approved of. But for acts like Playboi Carti and Lancey Foux, who lean on the edgy punk and gothic styles of late rock stars like Dave Vanian and Sid Vicious, the skinny remains an essential item. These aren’t the typical stonewash jeans you’d expect from rebel bands like The Ramones, but rather the sleek designs of brands like 1017 ALYX 9SM or Rick Owens who have rendered skinny fits in premium leather or resin coatings to make them appear like leather.

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By |agosto 3rd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

The Grinch Will Wear Rick Owens This Christmas

Rick Owens is no stranger to a bold design. In fact, in the last decade or so, few designers can rival The Dark Lord on shock value; remember FW15 when Owens sent his male models down the runway with everything on show? Well, this time there’s no visible penis involved, just a really hairy pair of… Rick Owens sneakers.

The Rick Owens Phlegethon Sneakers are one of the designer’s most popular footwear designs. Taking after the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star, the high-top silhouette features several familiar details. Take the rubber toe cap or two eyelets above the sole unit on the inside wall. As we’ve come to expect with Rick, though, proportions have ballooned to give the design more avant-garde punch.

Not to mention the fact that this pair features a full calf-hair upper in dark green. Blending smoothly with the off-white sole unit, the hairy green upper looks set to turn heads, adding a very bold texture to your fits.

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By |agosto 3rd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

We’re All Smiles For Louis Vuitton Fall 2021

louis vuitton fall 2021 menswear virgil abloh collection campaign

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Brand: Louis Vuitton

Season: Fall 2021

Key Pieces: Clear standouts include a host of splashy tie-dye garments — from technical jackets to skirts — and a cleverly quilted suit. More subtle, however, are the various leather accessories printed with handwritten “Marque L. Vuitton déposée” text and an illustrative checkerboard pattern sourced from founder Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s personal scrawl.

Buy: Louis Vuitton

Editor’s Notes: As Virgil Abloh reinvents house codes, he introduces new ones. Consider the tie-dye patterns that Abloh tweaks and toys with each season: they were rendered organic for Spring/Summer 2020 and reinvented as watercolor for Spring/Summer 2021.

For Fall 2021, the rainbow hues are again given new life as Monogram Sunset, an optimistic smear of color that iterates a sunny, smiley mood that feels cheekily cheery amidst the otherwise restrained color palette.

There’s ample tailoring on hand in the new campaign imagery, highlighting the refined cues that form the basis for much of Abloh’s tinkering. Sophisticated double-faced wool topcoats and quilted blazers mingle with technical anoraks and quilted skirts, some imagined in that new Monogram Sunset tie-dye pattern concocted exclusively for this collection.

Subtle surprises abound: supple leather jackets are 3D printed and furry harrington-style jackets can be reversed to reveal a scratchy checkerboard print. Thick ceramic pins pierce sweaters, mirroring the chunky chains that inform the shape of bi-color jewelry and droop from the glossy Soft Trunks and Keepalls.

Beefy woven hats and scarves up the cozy factor while new editions of the LV Trainer take on monochrome shades and multicolored laces to match the other funky fare.

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By |agosto 3rd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

This Is Saucony’s Most Sustainable Shoe Ever

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Brand: Saucony

Model: Jazz Court RFG

Release Date: Available now

Price: £120 (approximately $165)

Buy: Saucony

What We’re Saying: While many brands continue to work towards a greener future, Saucony comes one step closer to achieving its subsequent goals by launching its most sustainable shoe ever. The Jazz Court RFG is exclusively made from natural and renewable materials and zero percent plastic.

“Good things take time. Born to leave a lighter footprint, Jazz Court RFG is Saucony’s new step toward the good of the planet while remaining true to itself,” the brand said in an official press release. “This style took several years to come to light. While designing it, indeed, Saucony chose no compromises between its willing to innovate in the name of sustainability while preserving the distinctive cool look it stands for since ever. The result is Saucony’s most sustainable shoe ever in one of the coolest silhouettes it ever designed.”

Reducing energy each step of the design process, Saucony used cotton to make the canvas upper of the Jazz Court RFG, while also taking advantage of the durability of jute and its natural plant fiber to spin considerably strong threads for the shoe. Zeroing in on other components of the silhouette, the sockliner is constructed from sheep’s wool, and below, the rubber for the outsole is sourced from the milk of the hevea tree. The laces are then crafted from wood via eucalyptus tree fibers, and gardenia flowers, gallnut and mulberry leaf are used to dye the collar lining and uppers.

Currently available in green and dark grey colorways, the Jazz Court RFG comes in a more sustainable shoe box made from recycled cardboard with a label created from kraft paper with soy-based ink. Follow the link below to support Saucony’s sustainability initiative and purchase the shoe today.

To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, follow @highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check out the best sneakers to add to your rotation this week, and sign up to our newsletter for the latest sneaker news sent straight to your inbox.

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By |agosto 3rd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

Your Fall Wardrobe Is About To Be Fucking Awesome

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Brand: Fucking Awesome.

Key Pieces: The moss green fleece cardigan is the perfect statement piece for fall, and also arrives in a blue version. Additionally, the matching teal-and-burgundy overshirt and trousers are a must, combining bold colors with a classic workwear silhouette. Lastly, the safety pin accessory is one of the most stand-out pieces we’ve got our eye on.

Release Date: August 4.

Buy: Online at Fucking Awesome’s website.

Editor’s Notes: For its Fall/Winter 2021 collection, Fucking Awesome is all about statement pieces. The label’s signature graphic tees are of course incorporated into the range, as well as more bold prints and new designs ranging from doodle-inspired figures to embroidered “Fucking Awesome” logos.

In terms of silhouettes, relaxed short-sleeved shirts, tees, and boxy hoodies reign supreme, and are optimized for layering ahead of the colder seasons. The full offering is yet to be revealed when the collection releases on August 4, but we’re expecting a combination of daily staple pieces as well as bold statement pieces, accessories, and of course, skate decks.

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By |agosto 3rd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

Here It Is: The First Colorway of New Balance’s Brand New Sneaker

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Brand: New Balance

Model: XC-72

Release Date: August 6

Price: $130

Buy: New Balance and select retailers

What We’re Saying: New Balance has once again called on Charlotte Lee to design an all-new silhouette. Following stellar work on the relatively new 237 and 327, Lee has hit another home run with the forthcoming XC-72. NB collaborator Casablanca gave us our initial look at the sneaker in its FW21 collection, but now, the much-anticipated shoe is slated to debut in a multicolored inline colorway.

Courtesy of official images, we get a better, more detailed look at the XC-72, which becomes available in just a matter of days on August 6 for a retail price of $130. Similar to the 237 and 327 models, the sneaker heavily references ’70s running footwear, featuring a nylon upper with numerous suede panels. The heel clip and outsole, in particular, draw immediate attention to the silhouette, however, as the former boasts a textured, rubberized build, while the latter has a standout tread pattern that extends up onto the toe.

In terms of the colorway itself, we’re getting heavy Two-Face vibes from the “Multicolor” XC-72, and that’s a good thing. The various pastel hues undoubtedly help the silhouette stand out even further, as we expect this one to be in extremely high demand come release day. While you wait for the long-awaited XC-72 launch, you can learn more about Charlotte Lee and her previous New Balance designs by reading our recent interview here.

To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, follow @highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check out the best sneakers to add to your rotation this week, and sign up to our newsletter for the latest sneaker news sent straight to your inbox.

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By |agosto 3rd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

Escape to Pierre Cardin’s Iconic Bubble Palace With Tiffany & Co.

The French Riviera may be best known for glitzy resort towns like Saint-Tropez and Cannes, but nothing quite compares to the famed Palais Bulles — better known as the ‘Bubble Palace’ — an extravagant architectural masterpiece that was once the vacation home of the late fashion legend Pierre Cardin.

When the opportunity arose for Highsnobiety to explore this legendary estate, we wanted to tell a visually arresting story with the Bubble Palace at the center of it all. That’s why we partnered with Tiffany & Co. and famed French fashion photographer Julien Boudet, better known as @bleumode, on a lookbook that takes us away to the shores of the French Riviera and onto the steps of the Palais Bulles itself. Fashion editor and activist Rawdah Mohamed and model and actor Yannick Konan star in the accompanying short film, exploring themes of love as they discover this architectural marvel

The cavernous 13,000-square-foot villa took 14 years to build and was finally completed in 1975. It boasts 29 rooms and an outdoor theater that seats up to 500 people. While we couldn’t explore every nook and cranny of the palace, our stylish cast wanders the perimeter taking in its eclectic, cellular forms all while stunting luxe Tiffany & Co. eyewear and accessories. Echoing the unmistakable House motif, the Tiffany T eyewear collection is a study in sleek design. Tiffany HardWear also features industrial shapes, elegantly playing with tension, proportion, and balance — not unlike the unique curvatures of the great Palais.

In a way, the palace is the ideal setting to showcase Tiffany’s latest selection of wares. Its architect, Antti Lovag, famously hated straight lines and thought they were “an aggression against nature.” So he designed it as a “form of play — spontaneous, joyful, full of surprise,” similar to the Tiffany accessories featured here. That’s precisely why Boudet picked this location. “It makes total sense because Lovag designed it as something playful and fun while remaining chic and avant-garde at the same time,” he says. “This reminded me of the values conveyed by these sunglasses from Tiffany, especially with the shapes and the design that match those from this incredible Palais.”

For Stini Röhrs, director of the short film, she wanted to tell a story about love without being too heavy-handed. “[Love is] strong, but at the same time so fragile. The layers to it are manifold. It’s a process. That’s why we told this story in different passages,” she says. “Coming home to love, as a road of leaving the world behind, eclipsing from time. The individuality of love — being together apart in a safe space, as well as the unconditionality of love, taking your partner with open arms.”

Explore the full lookbook to see more of the Bubble Palace and discover Tiffany’s latest accessories at tiffany.com.

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By |agosto 2nd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

BEAMS x Arc’teryx FW21 Brings Out the Big Birds

beams arcteryx fall winter 2021 fw21 black gold zeta sl atom ar hoody jacket mantis 1 2 bag collaboration collection

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Brand: BEAMS x Arc’teryx

Season: Fall/Winter 2021

Buy: Pre-orders can be made via proxy through BEAMS’ website and stores from early November; the Zeta SL is ¥50,600 (approximately $460), the Atom AR is ¥42,900 (approximately $390), the Mantis 2 is ¥6,050 (approximately $55), and the Mantis 1 weighs in at ¥5,500 ($50).

Editor’s Notes: Arc’teryx is always relevant, but never more so than when the temps dip. It ain’t quite jacket season yet, but the Canadian company and Japanese retail giant BEAMS — which never fails to deliver quality collaborations — are getting a jump on their latest seasonal joint effort.

This follows a few fairly recent Arc’teryx partnerships, which are still a bit of a rarity for the brand. It launched a Palace collaboration last year and still has a Jil Sander+ line ready to go in the coming months, though news about that launch is pretty scarce. However, the BEAMS partnership is important because it represents one of Arc’teryx’s oldest retailer relationships, and the mutual respect is palpable.

I mean, no one else gets as many exclusives as BEAMS. Not only did BEAMS receive some bespoke goods for this year’s 45th anniversary festivities, but the duo even launched some layering pieces laden with BEAMS’ signature orange hue last year.

For FW21, BEAMS has propositioned another muted selection from Arc’teryx, straying from previous “crazy” editions (read: multi-color) for something more understated. The lineup comprises a Zeta SL jacket, Atom AR hoody, and the Mantis 1 and 2 bags, all realized in shades of black with single-toned accents.

Only the Mantis 1 incorporates bright purple — it’s a collab with the BEAMS BOY women’s line — while the other items showcase gold atop their zipper pulls, pockets, and logos. Further, the two layering pieces also sport an oversized Archaeopteryx logo on the right shoulder, a design cue that returns from the duo’s aforementioned FW20 collection and really highlights that flashy hue.

Like every other new Arc’teryx piece purchased in Japan, the goods are all covered by Arc’teryx Japan’s Bird Aid program, which is, functionally, a complementary warranty.

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By |agosto 2nd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

C2H4 Continues to Propel Vans Straight Into the Future

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Brand: C2H4 x Vans

Model: Old Skool, Era, and Mountain Edition

Release Date: TBC

Price: $140 to $165

Buy: Select stores around Asia-Pacific

What We’re Saying: C2H4’s futuristic aesthetic is on full display in its new collaboration with Vans. A followup to the Los Angeles label’s initial “The Imagination of Future” drop from earlier in the year, part two once again showcases the Old Skool, Era, and Mountain Edition in upgraded materials and color executions.

First up from the collection, the Old Skool arrives in a blue, gray, and white colorway that is being referred to as “Relic Stone” to represent the sense of the science fiction of C2H4. Boasting paneled construction, the low-top sneaker finds suede and canvas coming together across the upper, while the signature stripe on the side is executed in corduroy. Another standout design element of the Old Skool appears in the form of antiqued engraved logo silver-tone hardware implemented into the lacing setup.

The Era model from the second “Imagination of Future” collection adheres to a “Virtual Reality Alpha” concept. Here, we see the tongue and heel highlighted in suede, while the phrase “Matrix of Consciousness” is printed in black throughout. The lace is also changed into a thick woolen cloth with reflecting silk thread.

Lastly, the Mountain Edition is done up in a predominantly beige and ice blue gray colorway, crafted from waterproof canvas and suede. Corduroy then lines the side of the sneaker, while a luminescent rubber midsole draws attention to the bottom of the shoe. A signature design detail of the silhouette, we find a strap incorporated into the lacing system to ensure your feet remain locked it.

The second C2H4 x Vans “The Imagination of Future” collaboration initially arrived just days ago on C2H4’s web store, but unfortunately, each sneaker is already sold out. A followup release will take place on an undisclosed (for now) date in the future in select stores around Asia-Pacific.

To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, follow @highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check out the best sneakers to add to your rotation this week, and sign up to our newsletter for the latest sneaker news sent straight to your inbox.

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By |agosto 2nd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments

size? x New Balance 237 Is Perforated for Your Pleasure

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Brand: size? x New Balance

Model: 237

Release Date: August 6

Price: £90 (approximately $125)

Buy: size?

What We’re Saying: size? has been steadily cranking out must-have New Balance colorways since the beginning of Summer 2021. After releasing a grey take on the 57/40 and the “College Pack” featuring the 550 and 574, the UK retailer is back with yet another exclusive NB launch. This time around, the spotlight is on the 237, as the relatively new silhouette emerges in a material execution that is specific to the season.

To ensure your feet get much-needed airflow during the warmer months, the size? x New Balance 237 is outfitted with a breathable perforated base. Light grey suede overlays serve to complement the neutral spread, in addition to the darker “N” branding on the side of the shoe. The silhouette’s signature markings also appear on the tongue and heel, while an embroidered size? logo is applied to the insole to signal the collaboration. On the bottom of the pair you will find a grey rubber sole that matches the sneaker’s complementary hue implemented up top.

Drawing from ’70s trainers, the 237 references design elements from other shoes from the New Balance archives, including the 420, 1300, and Gator cleats. Since debuting earlier in the year, the sneaker has gone on to release in numerous inline colorways and collaborative pairs alike. You’ll be able to purchase the latest 237 collab when it launches through size? later this week on August 6.

To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, follow @highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check out the best sneakers to add to your rotation this week, and sign up to our newsletter for the latest sneaker news sent straight to your inbox.

Want to keep browsing? Head to the Highsnobiety Shop for more products that we love. Highsnobiety has affiliate marketing partnerships, which means we may receive a commission from your purchase.

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By |agosto 2nd, 2021|Art&Design, Beauty, city, Fashion, lifeStyle, Music, new media, TV|0 Comments