Skip to Content

What is a colourblocked sneaker?

Sneakers have become a fashion staple in recent years, with creative designs and unique color combinations setting trends. One popular sneaker style that has emerged is the colourblocked sneaker, which features multiple colors in blocked sections on the shoe. In this article, we’ll take a look at what defines a colourblocked sneaker, trace the history of this style, examine popular color combinations, and highlight some of the most iconic colourblocked sneaker models over the years.

Defining the Colourblocked Sneaker

A colourblocked sneaker is identified by its use of two or more solid colors on the upper part of the shoe, with each color “blocked” into its own section. This allows for bold color contrasts on different parts of the sneaker, like the toe box, sides, heel counter, eyelets, laces, and overlays. The colors are clearly separated, rather than blended together. This blocking distinguishes the colourblocked sneaker from other multi-colored sneaker designs.

Sneaker Element Color 1 Color 2
Toe box Red Blue
Side panels Yellow Green
Heel counter Orange Purple
Eyelets Blue Red

As seen in this example, different sneaker elements like the toe box, side panels, and heel counter can each have their own blocked colorway. This creates a vivid, eye-catching effect.

History of the Style

Colourblocking originated as a visual art technique in the early 20th century, with artists like Piet Mondrian creating abstract paintings using bold blocks of primary colors. In the 1930s, designer Elsa Schiaparelli introduced colourblocking into women’s fashion, with contrasting blocks of color on garments. By the 1980s and 90s, sportswear brands like adidas and Puma began experimenting with colourblocking on sneakers to make their shoes stand out on the court and field.

It wasn’t until the 2000s that colourblocking became a major sneaker trend, as brands sought bold new styles and consumers craved unique designs. Sportswear giants Nike and adidas launched special colourblocked editions of their iconic shoes like the Air Force 1 and Superstar. Luxury fashion houses also started releasing colourblocked sneakers at high price points, elevating the style’s cachet. Now colourblocking can be seen across all realms of the sneaker market, on models from sports to streetwear to high fashion.

Popular Color Combinations

One of the appeals of a colourblocked sneaker is the multitude of color combinations possible. Here are some of the most popular colorways used on colourblocked kicks:

  • Black and white – The classic duo lends a clean, timeless look.
  • Red and blue – Primary colors make a bold statement.
  • Pink and green – Unexpected pastels offer a softer contrast.
  • Yellow and navy – Nautical inspired palette.
  • Gray and orange – Muted and bright tones balance each other.

Colourblocked sneakers aren’t just limited to two colors either. Some models feature three or more blocked colors for high visual impact. The color placement also varies, with gradients, fades, and asymmetric color layouts creating unique effects.

Iconic Colourblocked Sneaker Models

Certain colourblocked sneakers have reached legendary status in the footwear world. Here are five of the most iconic models over the years:

Nike Air Force 1

The classic basketball shoe has spawned countless colourblocked editions since its 1982 debut, cementing its streetwear icon status. Unforgettable colorways include red/blue and orange/purple.

adidas Superstar

With its shell toe shape, the Superstar has been colourblocked in every way imaginable. Meghan Markle sported a blue/white pair, boosting the style’s popularity.

Puma Suede

The soft suede construction lends itself perfectly to colourblocking. Collaborations with celebrities like Rihanna and Big Sean created buzzed-about colorways.

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star

The iconic Chuck Taylor goes bold with colourblocked details on the toe, laces, and sidewalls. A red/blue/white combo is most recognizable.

Reebok Classic Leather

Reebok has dropped some of its most daring colourblocked designs on the Classic Leather silhouette, like the rainbow-striped Pride model.

Beyond these classics, many more contemporary sneaker models have launched special colourblocked versions as well. The endless variety keeps this styling fresh and exciting for sneaker lovers.


With its eye-catching use of contrasting color blocks, the colourblocked sneaker has become a modern footwear icon. The visually striking style combines fashion and function for a bold look that commands attention. Classic silhouettes from brands like Nike, adidas, and Converse have achieved legendary status in memorable colourways. As sneaker culture continues to evolve, the colourblocked sneaker will remain a staple way for brands to innovate with fresh colors and designs.