Adidas is collaborating with a Japanese label to create artisanal knock-offs of its own shoes

The Adidas Micropacer, remade by Hender Scheme.
The Adidas Micropacer, remade by Hender Scheme.
Image: Adidas
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If you were feeling uncharitable, you might call Hender Scheme’s replicas of classic sneakers knockoffs. They are, after all, basically logo-less duplicates of styles including Nike’s Presto and Air Jordan IV, Vans’ Era, Reebok’s InstaPump Fury, and more. But founder Ryo Kashiwazaki calls them ”homages.”

Hender Scheme remakes shoes in premium, vegetable-tanned leather by hand in Japan. Quantities are limited and pricetags are often $1,000 and up. As the leather’s natural color develops a patina over time, the ultimate result is something new that appeals to an entirely different kind of sneakerhead, which is likely why the companies that created the originals haven’t tried to stop Hender Scheme.

Adidas, in fact, is encouraging Hender Scheme’s copies. The two brands have teamed up for a multi-season collaboration that kicks off with three Adidas styles remade by Hender Scheme: The Superstar, the NMD (minus Adidas’ bouncy Boost sole), and the Micropacer (minus the pedometer). The reproductions—still done by hand in Hender Scheme’s high-end leather—will bear both company’s logos.

“We think what Ryo-san does elevates our profile instead of denigrating it, the way a counterfeit product does,” Erman Aykurt, senior design director at Adidas Originals, told Business of Fashion. “We love the idea of approaching sneakers from an artisanal perspective. It speaks to our ethos, because Adi Dassler also came from a cobbler background.”

Kashiwazaki, a psychology student in college, learned by working in a factory and then doing shoe repair before launching his label in 2010. (Hender Scheme is a play on Sandra Bem’s “gender schema” theory, and Kashiwazaki wanted it to “surpass gender” when he started it.) He’s said he considers himself a “maker” more than a designer.

His label does make its own original footwear and leather goods. But it rose to popularity in fashion and streetwear circles, and caught the attention of high-end shops including Barneys, Dover Street Market, and Mr. Porter, largely because of its sneaker recreations, which are meant to age more like a well-made shoe than a sneaker, though not everyone loves their broken-in look.

Only 300 pairs of each style of the new Adidas collaboration will be released, for a total of 900. They will hit select stores on September 2, Business of Fashion reports (paywall).

Prices range from $900 to $1,000. Consider it the cost of old-fashioned production, and exclusivity.