Lakai recently released their Krooked/Sebo Griffin colorways, which sparked a fond reminiscing for us of their their many contributions to the collaborative shoe landscape.
The collab shoe is a tricky opportunity, often misutilized and frequently under or overstated. Luckily, we have some solid examples from Lakai of how to best showcase another entity without losing the feel of your own designs. More often than not, a Lakai X ____ shoe will somehow represent both brands authentically without losing its allure – a concept that’s not to often taken into consideration, but is increasingly difficult to perfect.
Most of the time, collabs within the same camp seem forced or inorganic. And then there’s Crailtap, where it’s always seemed like the most natural course of action to mix and match within their particular brands. Their list of collaborators is as eclectic and unpredictable as it is on brand and exclusive.
For whatever reason, it just works, which explains why we had a hell of a time narrowing down our favorites. Between all the shoes, riders, videos, ads, ups, downs and various flare-ups, there’s so much to appreciate within the rich history to be found.
In fact, Crailtap has been so successful in their collaborative efforts that we really could have saved ourselves a lot of time and selected 10 at random out of the shitload of options and this list would’ve been just fine.
10. Foster 3 X Popwar (2006)
The original Popwar entity boasted a bonkers crew of rippers featuring none other than the once Lakai-clad Cairo Foster. Of his three Popwar pro model collabs, we mostly just like the Popwar piggy bank logo the most out of their simplistic yet wholly memorable brand imagery (the bunny is one of the sickest logos ever created), thus separating this shoe from the other 2 by a razor-thin margin. Some nice, subtle panel coloring and embossing made for a solid addition to the Lakai collab catalog.
9. Racing Series (2008)
The ultimate collab idea? We left series’ out of this list initially, but these are just too good – why not collab with all your sponsors at once? Between the Foster 4, Biebel 1 and Mariano 2, there had to have been some serious photo incentive checks being cashed.
8. MJ X Jenkem (2016)
This shoe made our east coast collabs list awhile back, and for good reason. Oiled suede and embossing on a slick MJ mid model is sick and all, but the marketing behind it was and is the real winner. If you come across a secondhand pair of these, it’s nearly impossible not to wonder if they’re “that” pair.
7. Koston Select X Independent (2007)
These had us questioning if Indy had started to make shoes for a second. The giant cross on the side was in no way subtle, and few entities at the time were as universally beloved as the triple threat of Koston, Lakai and Independent. Of every model on this list, these were by far the most universally prevalent – you almost couldn’t go to a park without seeing at least one pair within a few months of release. It’s also worth debating whether or not the Lakai Select idea jumpstarted the overwhelming general vulc presence for the next several years.
6. Howard Mid X Crailtap (2009)
This collab is such an overstatement that it almost surpasses the inherent idea and enters into some new territory we don’t even have a name for. But hey, if you’re gonna make it count, Crailtap the shit out of it. These were not for the faint of heart or anyone who doesn’t like explaining why there are cloud silhouettes on their shoes (or what brand they are, for that matter). There was also a grey version that was far less conspicuous if that suited your tastes a little better. These looked especially sick after a few sessions worth of ollie area wear.
5. Carroll Select X Thrasher (2007)
The Carroll 4 was one of, if not the most collab’d Lakai models – and not without merit; a classic, timeless, “skate”-as-fuck shoe that almost couldn’t look shitty no matter what was done to it. It’s pretty rare a shoe looks and skates just as well as either a cup, vulc, low or mid, too. We had a rough time narrowing down which one was our absolute favorite (the Skate Fairy collab almost took it), but the tastefulness in the murdered out upper of the Select X Thrasher version, especially considering how flamboyant some of the C4 colorways were, ultimately stood out the most.
4. Mariano X Fourstar (2006)
The fact that this one immediately came to mind for all of us once the words “Lakai collab” were thrown out there, years past it’s coming and going, says something for it’s simplistic and subtle approach. Nothing fancy, and sometimes that’s best. If you weren’t around at the point this shoe came out, we have no way of accurately explaining how much ads like this had us anticipating Guy’s Fully Flared part.
3. Carroll-3 X Girl/Howard-3 X Girl (2004)
In our minds, these were something of a duo; rarely would you see one on a shelf without the other. Two of the most recognizable colorways and models in Lakai’s catalog with just the right amount of branding were too difficult to choose between or quantify comparatively, so they tie and we all win anyway.
2. Manchester X Chocolate X Vincent Alvarez (2011)
You may be saying to yourself “How the fuck is a navy Manchester so high up on your stupid list?” Well, the triple collab is a rarity in any shoe scene, and the combo of an OG-ified Manchester, Chocolate and VA is straight out of switch lipslide heaven. This is the textbook definition of collaboration: taking a dude on the team and pairing him with his favorite shoe and his board sponsor. It’s so obvious, yet so brilliant – 3 statuesque skate entities in as perfect of an example as anyone could reasonably expect of “less is more.”
1. SJ-3 X Chocolate (2004)
Very few visuals in the entirety of Lakai’s run as a company stand out more than this ode to colorway transformation. It’s exceedingly rare for collabs to ever reach the point Scott J and Lakai did with creating such a user-friendly yet fully unique look for a shoe that really only had the strap going for it. This is why colorways are important, kids – the right choices can transform a fairly forgettable shoe into one of the most memorable.