10 Sneaker Collabs That Define Extra Butter’s Decade in Business

Collaborations aren’t solely responsible for New York-based boutique standout Extra Butter’s 10 years of success, but they do give sneaker fans another reason to shop with the retailer. With Extra Butter celebrating its 10th anniversary, its art director Bernie Gross spoke with Footwear News about the 10 standout collabs of the decade.

10. Asics Gel Epirus “California Mountain Snake”

Extra Butter Asics Gel Epirus California Mountain Snake
Extra Butter x Asics Gel Epirus “California Mountain Snake”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“This is the unsung hero of our famous DL5 Pack. When we started working on this project, Asics was leveraging its rise amongst sneaker enthusiasts and took initiative to break out additional models from the archive — one of them being the Gel Epirus. We decided to help put a spotlight on the heritage piece. The concept and nickname was influenced by the Elle Driver character from ‘Kill Bill,’ particularly the hospital scene when Elle tries to kill The Bride while in a coma. What really wins me over is the use of lines printed on the whole contouring the shapes of the paneling — a nod to the Moschino ensemble Elle wears into the hospital that fits a similar motif.”

9. Asics Gel Lyte V “Karaoke”

Extra Butter Asics Gel-Lyte 5 Karaoke
Extra Butter x Asics Gel-Lyte 5 “Karaoke”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“I think our audience tends to attach memories to our collabs more with the activations and marketing than they do the shoe design itself. This collab was a perfect marriage of the two. The shoe is clean but with just enough flair to convey the EB character, the materials are lush, and it’s accompanied with probably our most ambitious packaging. [And] the karaoke party we held at the store for the release is one customers and brands still talk about. In a community and culture where people are uptight about needing to always look cool, it was nice to see guards being let down to let loose. People were pulling out gems to sing and rap. One of the most memorable nights.”

8. Saucony Shadow Master “Space Snack”

Saucony Shadow Master Space Snack
Saucony Shadow Master “Space Snack”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“This was a concept I came up with before officially joining EB as a full-time creative. My original designs featured all-over prints of nebulas, the milky way, and other loud space patterns. Why does this read familiar? A few weeks after starting designs, images of the Nike Galaxy Foamposite leaked and it was basically the same aesthetic. I didn’t want to drop the entire idea, so the art direction was revamped. We chose to go in a more literal sense than the far-out. I met up with Jay [Faustino] and Dan [Mercurio] at a cafe, and wrapped up color blocking and details for the new concepts we landed on. After the Aces Grid 9000 and Moonwalker Shadow 6000 were completed, Jay suggested we need a third shoe to complete a set. I immediately started blocking out colors for a neapolitan colorway as he was reminiscing of going to planetariums as a kid and wanting freeze dry iced cream. The Space Snack was literally completed in about 10 minutes. It seemed the most organic and up our alley. The video and photo lookbook we produced with our floor manager running through Lower East Side in a replica astronaut suit wasn’t so bad either.”

7. Sperry Striper CVO “Beach Getaway”

Extra Butter Sperry Striper CVO Beach Getaway
Extra Butter x Sperry Striper CVO “Beach Getaway”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“We have a close relationship with the subsidiary labels of Wolverine World Wide, but Sperry came easy because of our background living on Long Island [N.Y.]. The idea was simple: create something clean, classy, fun and something you’d want to wear all summer.”

6. Reebok Pump OXT “Sheriff”

Extra Butter Reebok Pump OXT Sheriff
Extra Butter x Reebok Pump OXT “Sheriff”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“Before working on this list for Footwear News, I was put on the spot to choose my least favorite shoe. To be honest, I sometimes forget some of the stuff we’ve done from time to time. I hesitated and blurted the OXT Pump Sheriff, and I wholeheartedly regret it. It may not be an everyday shoe for me, but I forget how much I love wearing them when I do bust them out. It’s a crazy shoe and I have fond memories wearing them.”

5. Reebok Pump AXT “Ahchoo”

Extra Butter Reebok Pump AXT Ahchoo
Extra Butter x Reebok Pump AXT “Ahchoo”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“This is the one that put us on the map. Originally, the ‘Sheriff’ OXT was going to be the only shoe we were doing for this collab. I was so excited the day before submitting the files that I couldn’t go to sleep and just started playing around with all the other CAD’s of shoe models Reebok had given us. I must have banged out a completed design in about three hours and snuck it in the email of the ‘Sheriff’ OXT files to Jay. We had another shoe on our hands that basically came out of thin air.”

4. Saucony Shadow 5000 “For the People”

Extra Butter Saucony Shadow 5000 For the People
Extra Butter x Saucony Shadow 5000 “For the People”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“This one is a tie between the global release version and the friends and family version. ‘Social design experiment’ is a concept I kept telling myself in my head for a while, but didn’t know when and where to apply it. Jay had brought up how important the presidential election was going to be and wanted to do something inspired by the democracy or casting votes. I had a lot of fun during the whole process — introducing the concept and premise, designing the options, directing the retro-style marketing. But most importantly, the shoes are just gorgeous. I always go back-and-forth as to which I like more and it constantly changes.”

3. Reebok Ventilator Supreme “Dynasty”

Reebok Ventilator Supreme Dynasty
Reebok Ventilator Supreme “Dynasty”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“This was a project that we pitched to Reebok nearly two years prior to it finally releasing. Hockey may not be the most popular sport, but we found it to be a common thread amongst the guys behind Reebok at the time. The Reebok Certified Network was a new program for the brand, and we wanted to find a way to get some fellow boutiques who were also in the Network to get involved to tell a bigger story. There was a lot of pressure to make a design that was edgy and progressive enough to cater to our core sneaker enthusiast following, while catering to the sensibilities of a hockey fan that is sensitive to even the slightest changes of team sweaters [jerseys]. The response was great all around, the pop-up at Barclays Center was insane, and I love striking up conversation with fans that I spot wearing them at home games.”

2. Reebok Ventilator “Street Meat”

Reebok Ventilator Street Meat
Reebok Ventilator “Street Meat”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“This was a game changer. When people think of food-inspired sneakers, this has to be in people’s top three. We introduced the Ventilator for Reebok’s key initiative that year, the halal cart story really connected with the authentic New Yorker and the colorway is just something else. I’ve yet to see something like it and yet it’s so wearable. My dream of working a food truck sort of came true when we custom wrapped a halal cart, roamed around the five boroughs and handed out free pairs of ‘Street Meats’ to unsuspecting customers who were just looking for a bite to eat. The cart still has the graphics on it and can be found in part of Brooklyn. Reebok still references that activation as a case study for relevant experiential marketing.”

1. Asics Gel Saga “Cottonmouth”

Extra Butter Asics Gel Saga Cottonmouth
Extra Butter x Asics Gel Saga “Cottonmouth”
CREDIT: Extra Butter

“I look at it and it just touches my soul. The entire concept of doing a ‘Kill Bill’-inspired Asics pack was a concept Jay and I had spoke about for years, even before Extra Butter opened. There was apprehension to pitching a five-shoe pack, but there’s so much backstory and idiosyncratic qualities behind each villain that I just couldn’t fathom trying to cram it into one shoe to represent them all. The original design was actually all red patent inspired by the anime scene, but the world wasn’t ready for all red until the [Nike Yeezy 2] ‘Red Octobers’ released the following year. I went back to the drawing board and made a design that was a literal translation of my favorite scene. When people are as familiar with the movie as us, they can easily spot the detail I meticulously put in like little easter eggs. Aside from the context even for someone who isn’t familiar with the film or its connection to the collab, it’s just a solid looking sneaker. A good design is a good design, that stands the test of time. When this came out, it really showed what Extra Butter had to offer and I believe was a major turning point for the brand.”

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