History of Common Projects

Birthed from the minds of American art director Prathan Poopat and Italian creative consultant Flavio Girolami, footwear brand Common Projects came to be in 2004. After collaborating on an array of creative endeavors despite living in different countries, the two parties took their work to another level by making it official and forming Common Projects as its own entity. As a brand, Common Projects considers its home to be New York City though much of the production takes place in Italy.

Famously, Common Projects footwear models are known for their clean aesthetic, classic lines and Italian craftsmanship. The use of premium materials on very simple and wearable silhouettes allowed Common Projects to carve a lane between classic sportswear and high fashion.

The breakthrough model for Common Projects is widely known as the Achilles – a low-profile sneaker that riffs off the aesthetic of classic sportswear staples like the Adidas Stan Smith, Converse Chuck Taylor and Puma Gazelle, only to upgrade the materials drastically and drop conventional big branding.

Common Projects Achilles Low sneakers, white
Common Projects Achilles Low.
CREDIT: Neiman Marcus

The Common Projects Achilles features its signature gold labeling across the heel portion of the upper. These 10 golden digits on the upper distinguish the model number through the first four integers, the European shoe size via the next two numbers and lastly the color code on the final four. While this delicate denoting appears on an array of Common Projects models, it is viewed by some as a defining attribute to the Common Projects Achilles only because of the model’s mass popularity.

Over the years, the Common Projects Achilles has been revered in the world of menswear, bridging the gap between hyped sneaker culture and lavish runway fashion as a muted midway point. Running roughly $400 a pair, the Common Projects Achilles comes in at a price that’s higher than an Adidas Stan Smith or even an Air Jordan 1 Low.

By breaking through the middle ground of price point in the increasingly expensive world of coveted footwear, Common Projects and their Achilles silhouette have found a lane with competitors. Furthermore, the quiet colorways and Italian craftsmanship make them wearable on an everyday basis. On the sneaker hype end of the spectrum, the choice of Italian Nappa leather make them more durable or even better with wear than some models like Converse Chuck Taylor, Nike Air Force 1 or Reebok Workout.

Common Projects Achilles Low sneakers, black
Common Projects Achilles Low

Throughout the 2010s, the Common Projects Achilles became incredibly popular, stocked at over 200 retailers around the world.

While the Common Projects Achilles in both low and mid top variations has attained staying power due to its notoriety in the market and ability to reinvent itself in various colorways, Common Projects itself has proven it has more models to offer the market.

Common Projects Suede Chelsea Boots.

In the time since its 2004 founding, Common Projects has had success with the Common Projects Chelsea Boot, seen notably during the 2010s and beyond. Like the Common Projects Achilles, the Common Projects Chelsea Boot occupies an area of quality and price point that fans find both accessible and aspirational. The lack of overt branding bares well to wearability for men and women alike, once again striking a trend that feels timeless and versatile. A pair of Common Projects Chelsea Boots typically retail between $500 and $600.

By the late 2010s, Common Projects had made a name for itself in multiple categories of footwear strongly tied to the genre of menswear. In 2017, they took it one step further with the release of the Common Projects Track Runner. Riding the popular wave of chunky “dad” shoes and the cult coolness associated with “ugly” performance runners, Common Projects answered the dynamite trend by putting out a model that stuck to the company ethos of muted palettes and quality materials while appearing bulkier than its in-house peers. The end result is a swift yet sturdy lifestyle running shoe that shows shades of Nike and New Balance without coming off as a copy to any of the mentioned brands.

Common Projects Track Classic Low
Common Projects Track Classic Low.

Outside of the expressed explorations into menswear, Common Projects has adjusted the formula on their favored Achilles by bringing out contemporaries such as the Common Projects BBall, Common Projects Retro, Common Projects Tennis and Common Projects Slip-On. While each style channels various sports, ideals or other outside inspirations, the lines, branding and aesthetic still draw back to the foundational Common Projects Achilles.

Common Projects BBall 90
Common Projects BBall 90.

These days, Common Projects continues to thrive by releasing revered footwear models in both men’s and women’s sizing. While the brand started by two creatives from America and Italy has grown globally and amassed an extended catalog of silhouettes and stockists, Common Projects has remained incredibly rooted to their original perspective on what a sneaker should look like, how it should be made and how much it should cost.

While the world races to chase the latest trend, keep up with the industry or even make a quick buck, Common Projects proves more poised than some of its peers, offering its opinion only when asked and driving smoothly in its own lane.

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