Looking Back at 20 Years of Y-3

The collaborative label has redefined contemporary fashion and footwear for two decades with minimal branding, elevated silhouettes, and more.

Footwear 
12,679 Hypes 14 Comments

In the last two decades, adidas has teamed up with high-profile industry names and brands including Kanye West, Pharrell, South Park, Prada and more, but few of these have the history and heritage that its collaborative Y-3 sub-label possesses. Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto has been helming this imprint since 2002, and he’s been pushing the boundaries in contemporary fashion and footwear ever since. Y-3 was one of the first to blend the worlds of high-fashion with sportswear — something we know all too well today — and it continues to dominate in this space.

Some of the most innovative product designs have spawned from this partnership. A footwear silhouette as iconic as the Y-3 Qasa will forever be remembered for its unique design and how it influenced a whole generation of contemporary and lifestyle sneaker models. And athletic apparel such as hoodies, tracksuits, jumpsuits and tech wear now have room in streetwear as Yamamoto reinterpreted this category through minimal branding, tasteful patterns and neutral tones.

The hype over the label has more or less simmered down in recent years, but the brand is still making strides to remain relevant with a slew of lifestyle footwear offerings and athleisure capsules. It’s safe to say that Yamamoto’s brand still has plenty left in the tank, and as it gears up for its 20th anniversary HYPEBEAST has taken a look back into some of its most pivotal moments.

Debut, 2003

Having already run his own label for 30 years, Yohji Yamamoto was thirsty for a new venture, one that he would be able to amalgamate all of his knowledge from working in the luxury space with street and sportswear. After getting rejected by Nike, he ran with this collaborative idea and pitched it to adidas in 2002. The German sportswear brand was much more open to the idea of doing something that had never been done before in the fashion space, and the partnership was forged.

Y-3 Platform Sandal, 2004

Clogs, mules, sandals and everything in between are the new norm in today’s footwear space. However, Y-3 was one of the first labels to engineer an unorthodox model slip-on model that was both contemporary and sporty, and that was the adidas Y-3 Platform Sandal. Up top, the kicks feature a high-cut mesh bootie that bears a Tabi toe-esque design, exposed heels and Three Stripes branding on the rear end. A thick platform serves as the foundation of the model, and which curves up towards the front and bears a Yohji Yamamoto spell out on the lateral rear. It was a unique proposition to the footwear market as you would very seldom see an offering that was this fashion-forward but still possessed a sportswear feel to it.

First Flagship Store Opening, 2008

Once the partnership had reached its five-year mark, Yamamoto recognized that the collaboration had gained a substantial enough fan base that it was time to go the brick-and-mortar route. In 2008, Y-3 opened its doors to the label’s inaugural standalone retail space in New York City’s West Village neighborhood.

Y-3 Qasa, 2013

Of all of the adidas Y-3 silhouettes under the sun, the Qasa is undoubtedly the most iconic. At the time, Yamamoto felt a need to shake the sneaker landscape up with a silhouette that pushed contemporary footwear design forward, and he certainly achieved that with this offering. The model debuted in 2013 and instantly garnered mass appeal for its futuristic shape and premium comfort. Yamamoto harked back into Three Stripes’ early 90s archives to bring back the brand’s Tubular technology, and he merged this with own Japanese design sensibilities to create the offering. The response to this shoe was so well-received it even spawned the avant-garde designer to create more variations of the model in the years that followed.

Y-3 PureBOOST, 2014

Prior to Kanye West creating a cult following for adidas running sneakers such as the UltraBOOST as well as his ever-expanding line of adidas YEEZYs, Yohji Yamamoto helped to introduce the cushioning system to the fashion crowd with the Y-3 PureBOOST. The silhouette debuted in a handful of grayscale renditions and instantly became a hit after Fear of God founder and now one of adidas’ newest collaborators Jerry Lorenzo was often seen wearing the black and white and all-white colorways.

Y-3 Run Boost, 2016

During this time period, nearly every adidas BOOST model would capture the attention of the sneaker community, and Yohji Yamamoto couldn’t help but chime in on the action so he fashioned the adidas Y-3 Run Boost. This silhouette is essentially a elevated version of the adidas Pure Boost that debuted in 2014 that bears the Japanese designer’s full moniker across the middle stripe and oversized Y-3 branding on the heels. If Kanye West stepped out in public and he wasn’t rocking his YEEZYs, you’d often catch him lacing up various colorways of this model, and this of course jacked up the resell prices and created more demand for them.

Y-3 Creates Flight Suits for Virgin Galactic, 2016

After already proving himself time and time again on the runways, Yamamoto was presented with a unique opportunity to work with Virgil Galactic — an American spaceflight company founded by Richard Branson. The company admired the designer’s unique perspective in fashion and tapped him to create special flight suits for the world’s first commercial space flights. The suits were devised with Nomex Meta Aramid — a woven, heat-resistant synthetic material — and were designed to support a pilot’s natural seating position. Y-3-made limited-edition jackets were also made for the pilots, crew and passengers.

Y-3 4D Runner, 2018

As adidas continued to expand upon his footwear cushioning technology with the introduction of of FUTURECRAFT 4D, it was only fitting that a silhouette be engineered under the Y-3 label. To kick things off on this front, Yamamoto implemented the brand’s unique and latticed sole unit and designed the Y-3 4D Runner. The silhouette first walked the runway during Paris Fashion Week that year and only a mere 200 pairs were released.

Y-3 “20 Years: Re-Coded” Campaign, 2022

Y-3 launches its newest “20 Years: Re-Coded”campaign that features football icon and longtime friend of the brand Zinedine Zidane. It’s designed to celebrate the brand’s two decades-long history while shining a light on Zidane and his impeccable ball control. Campaign imagery shows Zidane adorned head-to-toe in Y-3 and is seen sporting the brand’s sweatsuits, a trench coat, a puffy vest and the recently-dropped Y-3 UltraBOOST 22.

No matter where the brand goes from here, it will always be remembered for being a pioneer in fusing the worlds of luxury with street. As long as it continues to hone in on its craft and continue to push out wearable, functional and elevated products, it has great potential to stay relevant, but the brand still has room to grow. Having another pivotal moment like introducing another footwear model that transcends sneaker culture like its Qasa did can definitely bring fresh energy and attract new fans to the brand, but we’ll see how it moves in the coming years.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Zinedine Zidane Fronts Y-3's 20th-Anniversary Campaign
Fashion

Zinedine Zidane Fronts Y-3's 20th-Anniversary Campaign

Through a series of stills and short film shot by filmmaker Gabriel Moses.

Y-3 Goes Back to Form With Its Runner adidas 4D Halo "Core Black/White/Red"
Footwear

Y-3 Goes Back to Form With Its Runner adidas 4D Halo "Core Black/White/Red"

Yours for $528 USD. 

Y-3's Runner adidas 4D Halo Blends New Tech With Old Styling Cues
Footwear

Y-3's Runner adidas 4D Halo Blends New Tech With Old Styling Cues

Coming for the 20th birthday of Y-3.


adidas and Yohji Yamamoto Bring Back the Y-3 Qasa High
Footwear

adidas and Yohji Yamamoto Bring Back the Y-3 Qasa High

Honoring the Three Stripes’ and Yamamoto’s ongoing 20-year collaboration.

Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz on Character Complexity in 'The Batman'
Entertainment

Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz on Character Complexity in 'The Batman'

“There’s an element of narcissism [in Batman], which was really interesting to work out,” Pattinson told HYPEBEAST.

Holzweiler’s SS22 “In-Transit” Collection Was Inspired by Travel and Movement
Fashion

Holzweiler’s SS22 “In-Transit” Collection Was Inspired by Travel and Movement

Featuring graphic prints and technical fabrics.

AC Milan, PUMA and KOCHÉ Unite for Upcycled Capsule Collection
Fashion

AC Milan, PUMA and KOCHÉ Unite for Upcycled Capsule Collection

Made from unused soccer jerseys.

Basquiat's 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict' To Lead Christie's New York Evening Sale
Art

Basquiat's 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict' To Lead Christie's New York Evening Sale

Along with a 1982 sculpture that once belonged to Keith Haring.

"Imagine Picasso" Makes U.S. Debut in San Francisco
Art

"Imagine Picasso" Makes U.S. Debut in San Francisco

The latest immersive art exhibition.


Tyga and Doja Cat Reunite on "Freaky Deaky"
Music

Tyga and Doja Cat Reunite on "Freaky Deaky"

With a futuristic music video.

Norse Projects Overcomes the Elements With Latest GORE-TEX Range
Fashion

Norse Projects Overcomes the Elements With Latest GORE-TEX Range

Featuring classic outdoor styles in goldenrod, pine green and black.

New “Hemi Hellcat” 6x6 Monster Truck Reaches $220K USD Bid on eBay
Automotive

New “Hemi Hellcat” 6x6 Monster Truck Reaches $220K USD Bid on eBay

Dubbed the Gladiator Oculus Tron.

Pass~Port and Nike Set Release Date for Its “Workboot” SB Dunk Sneaker Collab
Footwear

Pass~Port and Nike Set Release Date for Its “Workboot” SB Dunk Sneaker Collab

Releasing on March 5.

Sotheby’s “Punk It!” Sale Withdrawn at the Last Minute
NFT

Sotheby’s “Punk It!” Sale Withdrawn at the Last Minute

The auction was initially estimated to bring in roughly $20-30m USD.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.