Ultra-hyped drops with around the block lines, timed releases, double and triple brand collaborations out of left field… Sneaker culture wouldn’t be what it is today — for better or worse — if it wasn’t for brands like Alife. Small upstarts who took the sneaker from a streetwear staple to a coveted luxury product offering nearly-limitless cultural cachet.
Founded in 1999 by four New York kids with a hunger to create, Alife has grown immensely while staying true to its “creativity before commerce” roots. Two decades in, Rob Cristofaro, Arnaud Delecolle, Tony Arcabascio, and Tammy Brainard have built their concept from a simple art collective and creative workshop into a taste-making brand and world-renowned sneaker boutique — the Alife Rivington Club.
While the brand would have its ups and downs throughout the 2010s, in recent years Alife has released a steady stream of drops that recapture the magic of its early years (an era when Alife stood neck and neck with streetwear giants like Supreme). In 2020, Alife is once again driving the conversation of what the streetwear of tomorrow will look like. A cultivar of cool in an increasingly crowded industry.
In celebration of the brand’s massive influence on streetwear, particularly sneaker culture, we’ve dug through their 20-year history and picked out the best sneaker collaborations in Alife’s storied run.
Alife Reebok Court Victory Pump Ball Out, 2006/2014
Alife’s Reebok Court Victory Pump “Ball Out” is one of the drops that helped Alife to build the modern sneaker scene we enjoy today. The original release dropped on Black Friday to unprecedented hype — becoming an instant sell-out. The shoes were created with tennis star — and youngest athlete to ever win a Grand Slam on the pro tennis circuit at just 17 — Michael Chang in mind. To reference Chang’s tennis career, Alife covered the upper in a fuzzy material meant to resemble a tennis ball.
After the success of the original Ball Out release, Alife would drop pink and orange iterations before finally reissuing the original pair in 2014 with some minor design differences, like the choice to go with black-embroidered branding instead of red.
Alife Rivington Club Adidas ZX 7000, 2008
Still highly sought out to this day on aftermarket sites like StockX, this take on the ZX 7000 sees the silhouette dressed in a moody mix of University Red, Cardinal, and Toro which tones down the usually busy upper of the ZX 7000, giving the sneaker the coolest makeover it’s ever had.
Alife Rivington Club New Balance 1300 Collection, 2009
One of the most beloved collections to come out of Alife’s Rivington Club sneaker store, this triple pack of New Balance 1300s featured reflective mesh construction with suede accents dressed in an all grey, white, or teal colorway. The original release dropped at midnight, setting a new precedent for the lengths people would go just to cop a pair of sneakers in the color of their choice.
If we had been in line in 2009, we’d cop the teal iteration, no question.
Alife Rivington Club Nike Air Force 1, 2009
Alife showed the Air Force 1 the respect it deserved. This iteration of the Air Force 1 is dressed in a premium all-white white leather upper with an embossed all-over-print of stars across both the upper and midsole that sits atop a clean gum-sole.
Eleven years later, this still looks like the very definition of “Fresh.”
Alife x Barney’s New York Everybody High, 2009
In addition to their many dope brand collaborations, Alife also has a few eye-catching silhouettes of their own, one of which being the Everybody High skate shoe — which never looked cooler than when it was designed with Barney’s New York. Dropping in three colorways of burgundy, mustard, and grey, each pair in this collection is equipped with matching laces and sits atop a blue midsole with dual Alife and Barney’s branding.
Alife were pioneers in treating sneakers like luxury items, and it was collaborations like this that really helped elevate the sneaker in high fashion circles.
Alife Stevie Williams Everybody High America, 2010
In 2010 Alife linked up with Philadelphia-based pro-skater Stevie Williams and cooked up this Everybody High which features a Phillies-inspired colorway over tough performance-focused mesh and suede construction.
Alife PUMA Evospeed, 2014
Part of a larger collection that saw PUMA collaborating with BAPE, Colette, and KITH, the Alife PUMA Evospeeds are still, six years later, the best looking piece from the entire PUMA WorldCup 2014 collection (though that KITH pair is a close second) and one of the dopest soccer cleats to ever hit the streetwear scene. Featuring a chaotic all-over print of lighters brandishing the Alife logo, the Alife Evospeeds takes one of PUMA’s most performance-focused pieces of footwear and makes it worthy of wearing in the streets.
If only we could get a basic sole on it!
Alife ASICS GEL-Kayano NYC Marathon Collection, 2015
Released to coincide with 2015’s New York City Marathon, ALIFE linked up with ASICS for a small capsule collection which consisted of workout apparel and ASICS Gel-Kayano Trainers and the GEL-Kayano 22 Runner, both dressed in a grey and silver-heavy colorway with contrasting red, white, and blue accents.
Both pairs dropped right at the height of the GEL-Kayano’s popularity, and Alife’s contribution to the GEL-Kayano line are still some of the two sneakers’ best colorways to date.
Alife Reebok Classics Phase 1 Pro, 2016
A defining aspect of Alife as a brand is that it has always been unapologetically New York. To pay tribute to the city the brand has called home they hooked up with Reebok Classics for a trio of Phase 1 Pros in white, black, and (our favorite) steel grey, which features a giant “NY” on the heel and Alife branding on the sneaker’s lateral side.
While we don’t hate the “NY” branding, we feel the steel gray iteration of the sneaker gets that gritty New York vibe across nicely on its own.
Alife Saucony Jazz ’91, 2016
A late classic, Alife’s Saucony collaboration takes the upper from Saucony’s Jazz ’91 and sits it atop the midsole of the Shadow 6000, bringing together the best of both silhouettes into one dope sneaker. Dropping in both a red, green, and white and a blue, white, and orange colorway, this collaboration sports mesh construction with suede overlays and Alife’s box branding and released alongside a matching apparel collection made in collaboration with Champion.
Alife x Starcow x Adidas Consortium Stan Smith and Gazelle, 2017
For this three-way collaboration, Alife linked up with Paris’ Starcow for a double sneaker collection consisting of Adidas’ Gazelle and Stan Smith silhouettes. Both pairs go for a clean minimalistic presentation, with the Stan Smith featuring a white leather upper with off-white detailing while the Gazelle is dressed in beige and grey tones.
Both pairs feature red, white, and blue flags at the heel for an eye-popping splash of color in an otherwise low-key design.
Alife New York Crocs, 2018/2020
Released as a “fuck you” to the sneaker culture they helped create, 2018’s New York Crocs saw the brand reaching for the world’s least stylish shoe, the Croc, and attempting to make it cool. While many a sneakerhead scoffed at the move back in 2018, Alife proved that they were early to the game. These days everyone from Post Malone to Bad Bunny is putting their name on Crocs, and Kanye West has his own Croc-inspired design in the Yeezy Foam Runner.
While we can’t exactly say we’re fans of the Alife Croc, we can say we dig on Alife’s ability to not get hung up on the cultural coolness of a brand. With the New York Croc, they proved they’re willing and able to push sneaker culture forward, even if it looks this ugly.
In 2020 Alife rereleased the New York Crocs with the “Art Crocs” which came equipped with 3D printed JIbbitz of the New York City skyline. We’ve chosen to share an image of that release as it captures the truly bizarre nature of the collaboration.
Alife Adidas Consortium Nizza Hi, 2019
Alife are absolute experts when it comes to designing all-white sneakers and this 2019 Adidas collaboration illustrates why. Featuring a minimalist canvas upper with simple Alife branding on the lateral side, this take on the Nizza Hi highlights the silhouette’s strengths without distracting the eye with overworked design flourishes. With it’s exposed stitching and branded laces, the Alife Nizza Hi feels slightly deconstructed without slipping into Abloh-influenced gimmickry.
Alife Adidas Originals Nizza Hi, 2020
Alife took a victory lap this year dropping yet another Nizza Hi with Adidas, this time dressing the entire sneaker in a dope-as-hell monochromatic yellow colorway. All of the same design touchstones are used in the 2020 iteration as 2019’s, with the exception of the tongue branding which features the Adidas Trefoil logo — a marked improvement from last year’s release.
Alife also dropped the sneaker an all-black iteration, but the yellow stands out in a way that’s just too good for us to ignore.