Saucony Originals, the lifestyle-led line of the American heritage name Saucony, has created quite some buzz over the past year, owing in part to a series of well-executed collaborations. To learn what defines the brand’s team-up approach, we caught up with Mark Ash – European Key Account Manager of Saucony Originals and the driving force behind special projects and collaborations globally. Interview by Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Bodega’s Saucony Originals interpretation resulted in striking polkadot versions
Bodega’s Saucony Originals interpretation resulted in striking polkadot versions
Collaborations have been instrumental in reinvigorating Saucony Originals. What defines these projects and how do you select partners?
We approach esteemed retailers with a creative edge and thorough sneaker expertise that are interested in Saucony and its history and want to interpret the product in a new way. So far, we’ve teamed up with the likes of Bodega and Bait in the US, Solebox in Berlin, End Clothing, Hanon and Foot Patrol in the UK. The whole point is to give our partners total creative license, and this policy has resulted in an array of vastly different styles; some are beautifully simple but well executed, others are wild. This August, Boston based store Bodega created a striking polkadot silhouette, while Bait recently added tiger heather knit panels to a 1985 Shadow Original. Each partner knows their consumer and market well and creates product accordingly.

How do the projects take shape on a practical level?
Partners are free to pick any shoe from the Saucony Original portfolio of archive styles, although we might suggest a certain model if it’s due to be reintroduced to the Originals line-up. We’ve found that it’s useful to elevate a style via collaborations before introducing it to our inline collections. But if a collaborator prefers to work with a different model they are welcome to do so– it’s imperative that partners are excited about the sneaker they are about to transform. Sometimes our teamwork projects result in a single sneaker, other times up to three models are launched. Each style is produced in limited runs, varying in size depending on the project and the collaborator.

What type of features can consumers expect and what is the typical pricepoint?
It is a high-end product retailing for about £100-125. Styles often feature full suede or leather and the shoes come in special packaging while we also add other unique elements to reward the consumer who has made an effort to hunt a pair down. We regularly have overnight camp-outs across the globe for our most sought-after collaborations.

How will the team-up strategy develop over the next year?
For 2015, we aim to release around 12 collaborations. Previously, we have only released team-up ranges in men’s sizes but we now launch most models in unisex sizes, and hope soon to pursue a ladies-only collaboration.

Bait’s collaboration sneaker featured tiger heather knit panels
Bait’s collaboration sneaker featured tiger heather knit panels