You likely have seen it in the names of many sneakers released over the years but you may wonder what does SE mean in shoes? The SE stands for “Special Edition” and often is more than just a limited release, being a fusion or street culture, sometimes art and craftsmanship all within a pair of shoes.

The concept of Special Edition shoes traces its roots back to the late 1980s when a groundbreaking collaboration between Adidas and the iconic hip-hop group RUN DMC left an indelible mark on the industry. The release of the Adidas x RUN DMC “Superstar” sneakers was a watershed moment, fusing music, urban culture, and athletic footwear into a singular statement piece. The shoes were more than just an accessory; they were a cultural symbol, a testament to the transformative power of collaboration.

Since then, Special Edition shoes have become a vital part of the sneaker world, with brands like Nike, Jordan, and Converse embracing the concept wholeheartedly. They are released for various reasons, from commemorating special anniversaries of iconic models to reviving classic designs with a modern twist. Various events like St Patrick’s Day, Black History Month, Pride Month or Halloween are a good opportunity for brands to add new twists on some of their best selling or new models. 

Types of SE Shoes 

There at least a few types of special edition shoes that make the release meaningful for different reasons. The footwear maker may celebrate an artist, improve the performance of their models or just give a new twist to a well known silhouette.

Collabs with other brands, athletes or artists

These partnerships leverage the star power and fan following of other brands, franchises or artists, resulting in heightened brand visibility and increased sales. Some examples include Ben & Ben & Jerry’s collaborating with Nike for a special edition of the Nike SB Dunk low or Adidas and Bad Bunny for several new Forum low versions. 

Collabs for Enhanced Performance SE Shoes 

Another type of special edition shoes are the ones where footwear brands collaborate with other well known brands known for their advanced technologies to enhance the performance of their shoes. A good example is Nike’s collaboration with the Gore-Tex brand that resulted in some special edition editions of the Pegasus Trail 4 and Air Max 90. 

Re-Imagined Classic Designs 

Often brands come up with new versions of their classics, like Nike did with their Air Max 95 line multiple times. The Ultra Premium SE version is such a version when the overall silhouette was preserved while the details of the layers were changed. The same is the case when a classic is “winterized” , being built with weatherproof materials.

Characteristics of Special Edition shoes 

Special edition shoes are defined by several key characteristics that set them apart in the world of footwear fashion. First and foremost, they boast distinctive characteristics that differentiate them from their standard counterparts. These distinct features often include unique colorways, materials, design elements, and special branding, making each pair a standout piece of artistry.


This is a hallmark of special edition shoes. These sneakers are meticulously crafted to offer a one-of-a-kind aesthetic that resonates with sneaker enthusiasts and collectors alike. They usually feature a custom box, custom laces, insoles, logos or some printed artwork. Many come with matching apparel, some in all family sizes. 


This is another defining trait. These shoes are intentionally produced in limited quantities, creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity among consumers. Some are only seasonal and only show up every once in a while. The limited availability fuels demand and elevates the sneaker’s desirability. 

Release dates

These are often highly anticipated events in the sneaker world. Brands carefully orchestrate these launches, generating immense buzz and excitement among fans. Unusually these dates commemorate some event that is highly relevant for one of the parts involved in the collaboration. 


The retail price for special edition shoes can be notably higher than standard models. This premium reflects the unique design, limited production, and cultural significance of these sneakers. Even if the retail price tag is the same, due to scarcity these resell for much higher on various marketplaces later on. 


This is perhaps the most enduring characteristic. Special edition sneakers often become prized collectibles, cherished not just for their style but also for their cultural relevance. They transcend mere footwear, embodying a fusion of art, culture, and fashion, making them coveted treasures for those who appreciate their significance.

Examples of Special Edition Shoes

adidas Nizza Goofy

Adidas Nizza “Goofy Pack”

The adidas Nizza “Goofy Pack” features two versions, one in black and one in white. It is part of the bigger Adidas x Disney collaboration which features among others the Stan Smith, the Superstar and The Ultraboost among others with artwork depicting Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. These come with a  personalized blue Adidas Box with the beloved Disney characters on it as well as with custom tongue logos.

Vans Authentic One Piece

VANS x One Piece

In late 2022, the highly anticipated collaboration between One Piece and Vans arrived, following Vans’ successful partnerships with Sailor Moon and Pokemon x Puma. This collection honors the enduring legacy of the One Piece manga, which began in 1999 and continues to thrive. Standout designs feature the Vans Authentic with Straw Hat crew symbols, the SK8-Hi depicting Punk Hazard island, and unique contributions from Nikuguso Tarou.

adidas lego

Adidas x Lego

The adidas x LEGO collaboration has been a trailblazing presence in the footwear industry, reviving classic sneakers with the iconic LEGO brick patterns. Beginning with the well-received ZX 8000 collaboration in 2020, this multi-year partnership aims to inspire creativity in both adults and children. Models like the Superstar, Ultra Boost, and ZX 8000 have since received the LEGO treatment, leaving an indelible mark on the fashion world.

Converse Wonder Woman

Converse x DC Comics

Over six years ago, Converse and DC Comics joined forces to create the Converse DC Comics collection, a hit among sneaker and comic fans. Iconic superheroes like Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and The Joker won hearts anew. With a growing fan base, DC Comics expanded through films, cartoons, and character-themed accessories.

adidas Superstar star wars

adidas x Star Wars

Beginning in the late ’90s, adidas teamed up with Lucasfilm to craft movie-themed sneakers, aligning with Disney’s broader partnership. In 2019, they launched three series: “The Lightsaber,” “The Space Battle,” and “The Character” packs, coinciding with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” These packs featured performance and lifestyle shoes, including iconic characters.

In conclusion, we hope we’ve answered your question about what SE mean in shoes. SE is designation that adds a touch of uniqueness and exclusivity to many classic and modern sneakers out there and they make a great addition to any  footwear collection. So, whether you’re a sneakerhead or simply looking for that extra style statement, keep an eye out for SE releases to step up your shoe game!