Sneakerhead Book Club: Sneakers X Culture: Collab by Elizabeth Semmelhack


Sneakerhead Book Club is a semi-regular series reviewing, you guessed it, books about the kicks you love. In this first edition, we take a look at Sneakers X Culture: Collab by Elizabeth Semmelhack.

You don’t even have to be a diehard sneaker enthusiast to understand the significance and prevalence of collaborations in the kicks game.

In fact, I’d be willing to wager that most people own a pair of collabs without even being conscious of it.

From Chuck Taylors to Stan Smiths, all the way to industry-dominating lines of Michael Jordan and Kanye West, big names collaborating with shoe manufacturers has been common thread throughout athletic footwear history.

That history is beautifully and informatively laid out in Elizabeth Semmelhack’s Sneakers X Culture: Collab, a hardcover book whose eye-catching photography makes it the perfect coffee table conversation piece.

But it certainly goes deeper than looking at pictures of hot sneakers. Author Semmelhack is the creative director and senior curator of the Bata Shoe Museum and, for all intents and purposes, a sneaker historian.

Semmelhack leaves no stone unturned, starting at one of the earliest collaborations in athletic shoe history, one that helped adidas craft its newest running shoe back in 1928.

Collab dives deep into the narratives behind some of the most iconic shoes ever, from time-honored classics like the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star and the Jack Purcell to Jeff Staple’s Nike Dunk Low Pro SB Pigeon that started a riot in New York City in 2005 to Rihanna’s PUMA Fenty Creeper and more.

Semmelhack combines her own research and storytelling with interviews with the creators themselves to weave in a refreshing first-person perspective of the shoes we’ve all marveled at (and taken Ls trying to cop.)

I found this book absolutely unputdownable; I blew threw it in about three days flat. For every shoe whose history I was familiar with, there were three more with backstories I had never heard and was fascinated by.

My personal favorites (yes, I did some price-checking on stockX):

  • Aleali May’s Jordan 1 Retro High OG Viotech
  • Russ Bengtson’s Reebok Iverson Legacy
  • Daniel Arsham x adidas Originals New York Present
  • Dave’s Quality Meats Nike Air Max 90
  • Vetements x Reebok Genetically Modified Pump.

Whether you’re a veteran sneakerhead or just dipping your toe into the figurative ocean, or somewhere in between, this book is certainly worth picking up. If you don’t learn something from it that you didn’t know before, then you’re probably the author.

Where to cop

Got a suggested title for Sneakerhead Book Club? Shoot us an email with your recommendations, or let us know if you’d like to submit a review of your own.