Karhu, the under-the-radar sneaker label from Finland beloved by Kanye West. has collaborated with Parisian concept store Colette. The company had its heyday from the 1950s to 1970s when it kitted out Finland’s gold-medal-winning Olympic athletes. Legend has it that the label originated the triple-striped logo but sold the trademark to Adidas in the 1950s.
The limited-edition Breaking Bread Fusion 2.0 sneaker celebrates the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence. The shoe comes in white and blue: “It’s a perfect match as these are both the colors of Colette and the Finnish flag,” said Karhu CEO Emanuele Arese.
His father, Francesco Arese, who previously served as the president of Asics Italy and the chairman of Asics Europe, had been looking for a new challenge and bought the company three years ago with an eye toward reviving it. Both men are former athletes themselves, with the father having won an Olympic medal for track and field in the 1970s.
Karhu has always developed its own proprietary technology and created the one of the first patented air cushion midsole systems in the 1970s. Going forward, the company is concentrating on the running and performance markets. “We don’t just want to just focus on the heritage of the brand but create a legacy for the future,” said Emanuele Arese.
The Colette sneaker will be launched tomorrow in stores and online as a special edition of just 100 shoes. Super lightweight, it is produced in Italy and based on a Karhu running shoe from the 1990s. “We asked the original designer from that time to redesign it for the collaboration,” he said. “Sarah [Andelman, Colette’s creative director,] liked the silhouette and supported [it] from the beginning. Colette was the first place to sell it in France.”
In addition to being sold at sportswear stores, Karhu is now stocked at B, Beams in Japan, Dover Street Market and Luisa Via Roma.
So what’s the idea behind the Breaking Bread? It comes from the idea of collaboration and togetherness and the theme extends right down to the shoeboxes themselves. They come decorated with quirky renderings of French croissants and traditional Finnish pulla pitko bread. As for the kicks, they may just sell out like hotcakes.