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.
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