20. Adidas The Kobe
The Kobe was Bryant’s signature shoe with Adidas before he left to join the swoosh. The shoe itself was an innovative design, so it only made sense for the packaging to be innovative as well.
This Sneaker Box included a drawer that slid out to reveal shoes that were wrapped in clear plastic rather than paper, giving the box’s holder an opportunity to see the shoes color before opening the shoebox. Once the shoes were removed, all that is left is a picture of Kobe Bryant smiling.
While this shoebox came in near the bottom of the list, it does a nice job highlighting the shoes with a slightly different take on the packaging, which was certainly innovative for its time.
19. Jordan XVII
The Jordan brand has not typically been innovative with their Sneaker Boxes, normally going with the simple black box with the white jumpman logo. Sometimes simple is better, but it’s always nice to switch it up, like Jordan did with the Air Jordan XVII.
The shoes came in a metal briefcase, which had been used in 2001 with the release of some Japan exclusive Air Jordan 1 retros. However, this was the first time it was used for a mass-marketed shoe. Jordan gets bonus points here, as many of the boxes on our list are limited edition. While exclusivity is
always a nice touch that sneaker fan’s love, the fact that everyone had the chance to get their hands on this innovative Sneaker Box is pretty cool.
However, the Sneaker Box while innovative, did little to compliment the shoe itself, which is why the box comes in near the bottom of our list.
The metal case and CD that came with the shoes caused the price to rise significantly, which may be why we have never seen the return of this shoebox.
18. Nike Free (1/3 size Sneaker Box )
Nike cleverly demonstrates the benefits of their Nike Free 5.0 running shoes through this innovative Sneaker Box, which is 1/3 the size of the original. While the orange Nike box remains the same, the smaller box shows off the shoe’s incredible flexibility.
Nike advertised the Nike Free 5.0 as the most flexible shoe in history. To demonstrate this, an advertising agency based in Uruguay, Publicis Impetu, came up with the idea for this box.
Unfortunately, the shoebox was only a limited edition promotional launch, so the small box loses out on the benefits of saving shipping space and helping the environment. Still, this was an innovative way
for Nike to highlight the benefits of their new shoe.
17. New Balance Super Team 33 Fish
The only New Balance Sneaker Box to make the list is this box from the Super Team Collection, which was made to honor the brand’s best designers. This shoe was inspired by fish, and the packaging takes on the role of the fish tank.
The transparent side walls allows you to see the shoe inside without even opening the box, much like you can see a fish swimming in an aquarium tank.
Packaging that innovatively accents the shoes inside is exactly the type of attention to detail that each Sneaker Box needs, and New Balance nails it here.
16. Adidas 1
The Adidas 1 was the second shoe to ever incorporate a computer, making it a much anticipated release. To complement the shoe’s high tech design, Adidas designed a high tech shoebox to go along with it.
At first glance, the shoebox looks more or less like a regular Sneaker Box with a handle. However, opening the box made you feel like you were opening a machine. The sides fold down to reveal the running shoe, and, once again, this Sneaker Box matches the colorway of the shoe inside, a nice added touch.
Adidas did a nice job with this innovative take on the Sneaker Box, matching the idea of the new high tech shoe with high tech packaging.
15. Adicolor Lo
Released in 1983 and remade in 2006, the adicolor Lo allows you to design the colorway for your own shoe. The Sneaker Box, which is a wooden painter’s box, comes with paint, brushes and sealant.
This Sneaker Box focused in on the creative side of sneakerheads, allowing them to create their own ‘custom’ shoe, down to the very last detail. This led to some crazy colorways, both good and bad, created all around the world.
While the Sneaker Box itself is pretty self-explanatory, the idea for it is certainly innovative, tapping into the idea of custom shoes, which sneakerheads love, while also reaching a market of casual artists who
wanted to put their skills to use.
14. Nike Kobe VII System Supreme
Kobe’s signature shoe was released in time for the ‘year of the dragon.’ The box seems to resemble the head of a dragon in both its shape and overall feel. It’s also a nice touch how the Sneaker Box reflects the color way of the shoe inside, all the way down to the yellow accent. More companies should get on board with this idea. It’s a nice way to accent the shoe and makes storage easy, as you already know the color of the shoe inside before opening the box.
The Kobe VII System Supreme shoebox lands toward the middle of our list, coming in at number 14.
13. DC Limited Edition NVRBRKN Sneaker Box
This DC Sneaker Box comes from their ‘NVRBRKN’ concept collection, and this limited edition packaging, designed by Deven Stephens, reinforces the brand’s ‘Never Broken’ concept. ‘Never Broken’ is a metaphor for overcoming adversity, both mentally and physically. As a skate shoe, this concept fits DC’s audience well. Skate-boarders must be willing to fall down and get back up, time and time again, overcoming physical injuries and embodying a never compromise attitude.
The Sneaker Box is made of glass, which symbolizes how we as humans are fragile, yet very strong at the same time. Only seven total boxes were made, which were given to seven individuals who represented the concept best by overcoming adversity.
12. Nike x Concepts Blue Lobster Dunk
This is the second of the Nike x Concepts releases, and makes the list due to the innovative HAZMAT style Sneaker Box. There are few shoes that someone might buy specifically for the Sneaker Box, and this is one of them.
Concepts is a Boston retailer that “always seeks to develop an original and diverse point of view… authentically meeting and exceeding the expectations for their highly discerning audience and consumers,” as they describe themselves.
Everything about this shoe and its packaging fits that description. The blue lobster is a rare cousin to the dangerous crustaceans that inhabit New England waters, and must be handled with care. Hence, the HAZMAT style Sneaker Box these kicks come in.
11. Nike Air Pressure
While the shoe is considered by many to be a flop, the packaging was certainly unique, especially in 1990. This ‘Sneaker Box,’ if you can even call it that, is made out of Tupperware-style plastic.
The carrying case acting as a Sneaker Box included a pump that was used to inflate the shoe. The Air Pressure was Nike’s response to the Reebok Pump, but there is a reason this shoe has never been retroed. There are not many Nike ideas that flop, but maybe this shoe was just too futuristic for its time.
Even though a person carrying around this shoebox may be asked if they are preparing for a spaceship launch, the packaging is innovative nonetheless, especially in a time when the Sneaker Box was nothing more than an afterthought.
10. Nike Air Max
Here’s a creative Sneaker Box idea for one of Nike’s basic shoes: air bubble style packaging for the Nike Air Max. While the shoes may be a little more difficult to carry, this packaging would certainly catch your eye on the shelves.
The concept behind this Sneaker Box is great. The shoe is floating on air, which compliments the shoe and its design well. The Air Max uses an air cushioning design in its heel, mostly to provide comfort. The packaging accents this idea of comfort perfectly. Plus, the buyer is ensured to be the first person to try the shoe on.
I’m OK with a Sneaker Box being a little bit impractical if the design is innovative and compliments the shoe’s idea well.
This Sneaker Box accomplishes both of those goals, and breaks in at number 10.
9. Reebok Pump x Bodega
The 20th anniversary of the Reebok Pump brought with it this take on the shoe by Bodega. The shoe took on a military theme with its coloring and most noticeably the dog tags hanging from the side of the shoe. To complement this theme, these Reebok Pumps were packaged in military spec ammo cases that acted as a Sneaker Box.
The ammo case is an awesome touch to the shoe given the theme, and the detail on the box is impressive. The yellow stenciled lettering and graphics really captures the military feel creatively. Bodega’s ‘Outback’ version of the popular Reebok classic did not disappoint in part due to this innovative Sneaker Box.
8. Puma’s Clever Little Bag
Puma worked long and hard in effort to revolutionize the Sneaker Box from an afterthought that accounted for millions of tons of waste to something that could reduce cost, help the environment, and be practical for their customers all at the same time. The Clever Little Bag Sneaker Box, designed with the help of fuseproject, is surely a revolutionary idea.
Let’s take a look at what this Sneaker Box accomplishes. First, it replaces the retail shopping bag with an easy to carry bag that is a walking advertisement for Puma. Second, the bag cuts down on the millions of tons of waste Sneaker Boxes cause every year and finally, it also cuts down on Puma’s production costs.
Puma is one of the first in what is hopefully a successful movement that makes Sneaker Boxes more than an afterthought. As you can see, the benefits are greater than simply complimenting the shoes inside.
7. Under Armour Apollo SpeedForm Limited Edition Sneaker Box
In an attempt to make a bigger splash in the running shoe market, Under Amour came out with its Apollo SpeedForm. But instead of a typical Sneaker Box, Under Armour’s creative designers sought a particular type of packaging that would complement the shoe and what it was all about: speed.
Designers succeeded with this unique Sneaker Box. With the limited edition “jet” packaging, Under Armour’s box represents their campaign for the shoe: “THIS IS WHAT FAST FEELS LIKE.™” The box serves as the jet and the shoes as the pilot. This limited edition also included a jet-shaped USB key chain, a tech card, and a T-shirt tucked underneath the shoes.
Under Armour’s goal was to create a running shoe that would be revolutionary, and this Sneaker Box certainly got the idea across.
6. Nike ‘LT’ Air Force 1 Custom
This next Sneaker Box was made for a custom 1 of 1 shoe created for San Diego Chargers running back Ladainian Tomlinson. The artwork, done by Hydro74, is the main reason the box comes in as number 6 for most innovative.
This Sneaker Box is also a prime example of why Hyrdo74 has designed products for many top corporations across the world.
The etching and detail of the horse head chess piece is simply unbelievable. You can’t help but think of power and strength while looking at it, two characteristics that described Tomlinson perfectly when he
was at the top of his game.
Nike clearly wanted to make an impression on LT with this Sneaker Box, which was presented to the star running back at the Nike Campus. With the innovative design and amazing detail on both the box and the shoe, it goes without saying that Nike’s efforts were well received.
5. Nike Air Force 1 Year of the Rabbit Hyperstrike
2011 marked the year of the rabbit for Nike and with it came this unique Sneaker Box. The box is modeled after a candy wrapper used by White Rabbit Creamy Candy, a brand that originated in Shanghai in 1943 and still produces candy today.
First off, the design here is simply a great take on a Sneaker Box The satisfaction of a new pair of shoes, as we all know, is very sweet. Add this to the Chinese connection of the candy brand and the year of the Rabbit and you get a creative, well thought out design for a Sneaker Box.
The Sneaker Box as a collectible item alone makes these AF1s worthy of their limited edition price tag.
4. Jordan Brand Skybox
Chris Darmon has created a super innovative “matchbox packaging” idea that could revolutionize the Sneaker Box altogether, and we reward him with a top 5 finish in our most innovative shoebox countdown. Here, we will use the Jordan Brand as an example.
The Jordan Brand Skybox is sneaker packaging made for sneaker collectors. It is meant to eliminate retail bags for single pair transactions and provide an easy way to carry and store shoes after buying them. He has also come up with the idea of using the shoe’s specific colorway as part of its packaging. The idea is that the Sneaker Box tells you the complete story of the shoes it holds inside without even opening the box.
This innovative box is a gamechanger for shoe collectors. The boxes stack easily in multiple orientations making them practical, while at the same time containing design details that provide a clear representation of the kicks inside. Just from a quick glance at the box, you have all the information you need to know about the shoes inside.
The Sneaker Box appeals to the buyer as well as the producer, as the elimination of the retail shopping bag means the Skybox is a walking advertisement for the shoe’s brand.
3. Nike x Clot Air Max 1
This shoe and Sneaker Box was a collaboration between Nike and Hong Kong streetwear brand CLOT. The cross between innovation and cultural tradition is what makes this a top 3 shoebox on our list.
The Sneaker Box is structured to resemble a traditional Chinese medicine box. It opens just like a medicine box would, with a Chinese seal that is accented with contemporary graffiti. The imitation was so detailed, that some people have mistaken it for an actual medicine box.
The whole ‘new’ meets ‘old’ idea is one that Nike often tries to play off of, but rarely do they involve the shoe’s packaging. It takes on even further meaning considering the Air Max 1 is a classic Nike shoe. The Air Max 1 takes on a new look with the help of the CLOT brand, which draws parallels to the ancient Chinese medicine box, taking on a new role as a Sneaker Box.
2. ARI Menthol 10s
It’s rare that a shoe and Sneaker Box make a political message, but that is exactly why the ARI Menthol 10 lands in our top 3 for most innovative Sneaker Boxes of all time.
The only reason this Sneaker Box did not rank number 1, is because, well, it’s not all that innovative. The box is an oversized Newport cigarette box, which is certainly an innovative design for a Sneaker Box, but not very innovative in and of itself.
In fact, the designer, Ari, was sued by both Newport for misusing their logo and Nike for making a shoe they called an ‘Air Force 1 look alike.’ We can all see the similarities. While neither the shoe nor the box is uniquely designed, the message here certainly is innovative and important.
Ari saw two corporations that, while perceived very differently, may have more similarities than what you would initially expect. An argument can be made that both Nike and Newport have an overall negative affect especially in the urban environment, but that’s another story for a later time.
* Sneakerbox.com does not promote smoking or tobacco usage, that stuff kills people
1. Adidas Milli
The Adidas Milli Sneaker Box is the quintessential example of a Sneaker Box that is innovative while serving a purpose, and that’s why it comes in as number 1 on our list. It’s easy to come up with some cool graphic art and throw it on a shoebox to make it different, but the truly special ideas come when someone, in this case Jenny Kim, creates a type of packaging that embodies what the shoe represents.
What represents power and speed better than a bullet?
Here is how Kim describes the Sneaker Box herself: “The name Milli is short for ‘millimeters’, the unit that measures the size of bullets. It is also short for ‘millisecond’, which is often the margin of victory in a foot race. The shoe is places inside a bullet-shaped box, a symbol of power and speed.”
Power and speed are two traits that every athlete, especially a runner, needs in order to succeed. Kim uses the Sneaker Box to indicate that these Adidas shoes are fast and powerful. Not to mention, the Sneaker Box is unique and looks awesome, which could entice someone to buy the shoes just based on the appearance of the box. The one-of-a-kind box is also the same colors as the shoes inside, which is a nice added touch.