Sneaker collaborations have become a dime a dozen. Every week has multiple collabs that release, whether it’s an initial drop or a project that’s finding its way to more retailers. Some have even argued that the allure and mystique of these meetings of the minds has started to dwindle. There are certain collabs — and they’re usually the most unexpected — that still bring the initial energy they were intended to provide. The latest co-branded product to do so comes from Berlin’s Overkill and PONY.
The past year or so has seen a string of PONY collabs, but they’ve mainly focused on bringing back basketball-minded silhouettes such as the Slam Dunk and M-100, with partners that included Ronnie Fieg, atmos, and Wish ATL. But those who have paid attention to the sneaker boutique circuit have noticed that runners have a bigger audience when it comes to shops located overseas. This is partially the reason why Overkill working with PONY is worth paying attention to, but there’s also an interesting tale on how the two entities came together, too.
In 2012, Marc Leuscner, the co-founder of Overkill, had inquired with PONY about a runner from the brand’s archives — the reason being that the already released high-tops just weren’t selling in Germany and they wanted to make sales. “It all started with a “What’s on My Feet” photo I had saved on my desktop, a photo of a vintage runner I had from many years ago,” he says. “I sent it straight to PONY and said these are the styles we need to bring back to the product line in order to re-awaken some interest [in the brand].”
PONY took Lesuchner’s request very seriously and was interested in working with him and Overkill, but there was one big issue: Neither could identify the sneaker that first sparked this conversation. “This moved fast, but PONY still needed help to track this silhouette down. It wasn’t easy to find,” he says. “After six to nine months of searching, I found the model with the help from a German vintage collector, who happens to be a friend of mine. We brought back the O.G. version and did this collaboration to celebrate its comeback.”
When it came time to design the sneaker, Leuschner knew that it had to be themed around PONY’s New York heritage, instead of basing it around something that only the store’s German customers would understand. “We wanted to create some context for the brand. PONY stands for “Product of New York,” so it was clear that we wanted to focus on a typical New York theme,” he says. “Our affinity for pastel shades, most recently mint, meant the color of the Statue of Liberty matched up perfectly.”
But like the difficult process of uncovering the actual silhouette used in this collab, there were other hurdles with making this design become a reality. “The production process was unfortunately severely delayed due to some problems at PONY Europe, and we found that there are now some further projects incorporating the same theme,” Leuschner says. “It left a slight, bitter taste.”
The project is now complete, though, and the market will finally get to see Leuschner’s vision. Not only will this sneaker be the next chapter in Overkill’s history, but it might also be a jumping off point for the model, simply titled the “Runner,” if everything runs smoothly. “Our collaboration should push the model off in Europe. Some inline colorways should follow after our release, but it’s not known if they’ll make it to retailers,” he says. “Our version might be the only one released.”
The result is a clean colorway with minimal but impactful additions to a throwback model, and it’s set to release in a couple of weeks. Overkill is launching the “Lady Liberty” Runner on Saturday, March 21, at its Berlin storefront, with the remaining pairs, if any, being allocated online. The retail price is set at 110€ or roughly $118.