5 Luxe Sneaker Launches That Started a Frenzy

Kanye West
Photo: Getty Images
Kanye West.

Back in the days of Jaws and the original Star Wars trilogy, lines used to wrap around the block for the latest big movie release, hence the term “blockbuster.”

But lately, celluloid hits have ceded that place to iPads and sneakers. With lines already snaking around the West Side branch of a Manhattan Foot Locker in anticipation of the Nike Foamposite Galaxy's launch, we took a look at five more memorable kicks (pumped-up and otherwise) that started a feeding frenzy.

1. Fashionistas looking for something even more comfortable than a kitten heel have anointed Isabel Marant’s Willow sneakers—which dropped this month—their shoe of choice. Marant has always transformed sporty standbys into wait-list must-haves: witness the varsity jackets she paired with mesh pieces for Spring 2011. The sneaks have already been spotted on Beyonce in her “Love on Top” video, as well as on Anne Hathaway and Miranda Kerr.

2. Kanye West’s ready-to-wear collection may not have met with resounding critical acclaim, but as even the critic who compared his show to getting an MRI would have to admit, he knows from sneaker design. The worldwide launch of his Air Yeezys on April 5, 2009 had streetwear enthusiasts lining up from L.A. to Manila. And sitting front row at his rumored collaborator Mark Fast’s London show last week, West showed off the Air Yeezy II’s, which stood out amid a front row full of heels and triggered a Pavlovian response among sneakerheads.

3. Immortalized in a 2002 hit by Nelly—which has the distinction of being the only hip-hop song that’s entirely about shopping for shoes and hanging out at the mall (who is he, Robin Sparkles?)—Nike’s Air Force Ones, originally introduced in 1982, are a collector’s item today.

4. While they don’t feature his signature red soles, Christian Louboutin’s $2,500 kicks are quite the status symbol. The brand’s Louis Python Crystal Sneakers are currently in stores; versions of the shoe have been worn by the likes of Lil’ Wayne. For now, they only come in men’s sizes, but we see no reason an enterprising streetwear-loving lady couldn’t pull them off.

5. They might not give you wings, but Jeremy Scott’s winged sneakers, part of the collaboration he began with Adidas Originals in 2002, were an instant hit. A decade later, the downtown designer still works with the shoe giant, and his most notable kicks recently received some primetime airplay: Madonna’s dancers sported them at the Super Bowl halftime show.