Whether you're a self-proclaimed "Sneakerhead" or wear shoes for practical purposes, you might find yourself perplexed by the various abbreviations commonly used in the shoe industry. Does this word mean something specific about footwear? Could it simply be referring to a style or hue? To put it simply, what does SE stand for in terms of footwear?

What Does SE Mean In Shoes

Special Edition (abbreviated as "SE") footwear features one-of-a-kind designs and collaborative efforts to honor an event, a person, or a cause. For the most part, SE footwear is more expensive and limited in availability than mainstream sneakers.

Just how unique are Special Edition sneakers, anyway? How easy would it be to find them in a shopping center? For the benefit of those who may be interested in purchasing a pair, let's take a look at what Special Edition (SE) shoes are and how this label affects matters.

To put it simply, what does SE stand for in the world of footwear?

What we choose to put on our feet is just as significant a fashion statement as the jeans or dress we choose to wear. A lot of people put a lot of effort and money into shoe collections, and the variety of sneakers available in the United States is a source of particular excitement for many.

The thrill of completing your collection with a pair of rare or special edition sneakers is amplified when you find them. With the letters SE on the box and the price tag, you know you're getting something special, but you might want to temper your expectations a bit. But Special Edition (SE) footwear isn't for everyone and can be quite pricey.

The problem is that special edition sneakers and shoes are usually only made for a short time and in a small quantity. If you intend to display or store the items in pristine condition as part of a serious collection, it may be worthwhile to shell out the cash to acquire them.

In this article, we will explore the world of Special Edition shoes in order to learn more about their appearance, common features, and the reasons for their high demand.

The significance of the abbreviation SE when discussing shoes.

Shoes and sneakers often feature abbreviations and lettering to help buyers quickly identify the specific style they are purchasing; this is especially useful for those who consider themselves shoe collectors or who place a high value on the latest sneaker fashions. Then, what's the big deal about SE footwear?

Yes, just like with cars and eateries, shoe companies like to mark special occasions by creating limited edition models. Shoe companies often release limited-edition styles to commemorate significant milestones, such as the anniversaries of their founding or the lives of prominent figures or eras in history.  

So, limited-edition sneakers are not like the rest of the line and rarely feature the same design twice. Their one-of-a-kind style sets them apart from LE sneakers in that they are guaranteed to hold their place in the lineup and command a certain price.

Specific Features of SE Footwear

What, then, differentiates an SE shoe from the rest of the lineup? Is the packaging the only way to tell if you have a Special Edition, or are there other telltale signs?

  • The release dates of limited-edition sneakers are often timed to coincide with significant holidays or events. This could be done for the holidays, a major sports victory, or a famous person's birthday. They have limited availability and are not regularly included in the rotation.
  • Converse Special Edition shoes are extremely rare because their production was temporarily halted rather than permanently limited. Although produced for a limited run, they are not always available for purchase. Because of this, they are notoriously difficult to obtain, especially for collectors. Collectors of a particular genre often seek out limited editions released years ago.
  • Since they are one-of-a-kind and in high demand, Special Edition shoes typically don't come cheap. They may not be as expensive as ultra-rare Limited-Edition footwear, but you can still expect to pay a pretty penny for them. Some SE shoes from the last decade or two can cost hundreds of dollars because they are considered collector's items.
  • Shoes released as part of a "Special Edition" series are truly one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Since it is exclusive and expensive, it conveys a sense of prestige. Those fortunate enough to obtain such limited editions are often the envy of other fans, who express their enviousness in online forums.
  • Specific characteristics: Specialty footwear (SE) must be distinguishable from the rest of the line in order to be considered special. Furthermore, there is typically a motif or commemorative nature behind Special Editions, making them wholly unique from anything else on the market. There is nothing else like it in the brand's catalog, and it's highly unlikely that rival companies will try to replicate the look.
  • Theme-appropriate, one-of-a-kind packaging is a common selling point for limited-edition sneakers. As to whether or not that's a one-of-a-kind box or container, that's up to the manufacturer. Hand-painted boxes, lockable cases, see-through items styled after spaceships or pints of ice cream all fall into the category of distinctive packaging.
  • Special edition footwear is frequently the result of a partnership between two or more parties (such as a celebrity, an athlete, or a major corporation). Nike's collaborations with Ben & Jerry's ice cream, the NBA's LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kanye West, and PlayStation, among others, to create special editions (SEs), are just one example.
  • Highly collectible: All of the aforementioned factors contribute to the rarity and value of Special Edition sneakers. The number of people who wear SE shoes outside in the elements without worrying about how this might affect them is likely to be quite small. Because of their incredible value and rarity, most pairs of SE shoes will never be worn.

The Characteristics of SE Sneakers

For a better understanding of what makes Special Editions sneakers so special, let's take a look at some of the most dope SE sneakers from recent years. All of these footwear options have the aforementioned qualities and more:

  • 2020 saw the release of a pair of sneakers with a name as ludicrous as "Ben & Jerry's x Nike SB Dunk Low" Chunky Dunky. Nike teamed up with the well-known ice cream manufacturer to create this artistic, vibrant, and flamboyant sneaker. Some pairs of these sneakers were also sold in extremely limited edition packaging resembling a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The suggested retail price of these SE footwear was around $4,000.
  • Moonwalk Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars: These shoes, made famous by Michael Jackson, featured an inverted design with the eyelets on the heel and the toe cap on the toe. The original 'Converse All Stars' text was altered to read "No Good No Stars" in tribute to Michael Jackson.  
  • Nike's past collaborations with Chinese streetwear brand CLOT have become almost legendary in the sneaker community, thanks to CLOT's impeccable reputation for quality and attention to detail.  

Sport Red Air Force 1 sneakers and a Chinese candy box in the shape of a hexagon, decorated with traditional artwork, were released as part of the 1 World sneaker collection in 2009. As they were only produced in small quantities and are now highly sought after, a pair of these sneakers can set you back upwards of $5,000.

  • Shoe company Vans released a limited-edition pair of chukka boots in 2007 called the Simpsons Vans KAWS Chukka in honor of the iconic yellow-skinned family from the show The Simpsons. Only one hundred pairs of each of the fourteen unique designs were ever made available to the public. Imagery features cartoon characters from The Simpsons with their eyes blackened out. Extremely few pairs of these shoes exist.
  • In 2011, Nike teamed up with Todd Bratrud to release smoking-themed sneakers called Skate Park of Tampa x Nike SB Dunk High' Cigar City. The Cigar City shoe was designed to look like a cigar in terms of color scheme and materials. As only a small number of pairs were released, complete with cigar boxes, they quickly became highly sought after.  
  • A longtime favorite of both parties, the Nike SB x Travis Scott x PlayStation Dunk Low Pro is the latest in a long line of successful collaborations between the two companies. This design was originally released alongside PlayStation, but it is only available in the most exclusive Special Edition. These one-of-a-kind items, which feature the gaming system logo and a design inspired by rapper Travis Scott, fetched a price of about ,000 in the year 2020.  
  • In 2006, Nike collaborated with Kobe Bryant to create a one-of-a-kind sneaker, and in 2018, a new iteration called the Nike x Undefeated Zoom Kobe 1 Protro was released to the public. To mark the occasion, Nike and Undefeated have released a limited-edition Special Edition shoe in Kobe Bryant's signature gold and purple colors, which he wore in his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers.  

The Most Awesome SE Shoe Box Ever

Shoe companies often add the bonus of special, trendy, or extremely out-there packaging to the Special Edition sneakers to maintain the limited availability and collectability of the shoes. Uniqueness in presentation alone makes some Limited Edition sneakers highly sought after. Check out these groovy illustrations:

  • Concepts x Nike SB Dunk Low "Blue Lobster": Concept is a frequent Special Edition sneaker collaboration partner, famous for their innovative shoebox designs. To protect this one-of-a-kind shoe, the Blue Lobster was placed in a foam hazardous materials container and sealed in a bag labeled "Danger."
  • The Adidas Adicolor Lo were originally released in 1983, but were deemed so successful that Adidas decided to bring them back in 2006. These otherwise unremarkable white sneakers were packaged in a full artist's toolkit, complete with paints, brushes, lacquer, and a palette.  
  • For the Chinese New Year more than ten years ago, Nike released a limited-edition Air Force 1 called "Year of the Rabbit." There was a limited run of sneakers commemorating the Year of the Rabbit, and their packaging was designed to look like the iconic White Rabbit candy.  
  • Not only are the Kyrie 2 Ky-Rispy Kreme IDs decked out in white, green, and red like a traditional Krispy Kreme donut, but they also came in a box shaped like a donut. These limited-edition kicks look just like the candy for which the label is known.  
  • The Nike SB Blazer 'Milkcrate' Special Editions were released in honor of Shanghai skate shop owner Jeff Han, and the shoe's design paid homage to Han's prior career as a dairy factory worker. Some pairs of sneakers came with an actual milk carton inside the box, while others had a'missing' image of Han on the heel.  
  • Nike Mag: The Mag Special Edition, which had been in the works for two decades, was finally released in 2011. Even though they weren't truly self-lacing, the shoes were ahead of their time in terms of style and innovation. The fact that a wall charger was included in the box with the sneakers continued the theme. A small number of units were sold in a "Plutonium Case" that looked and read like something from a science fiction film.  

Shoe Variations between SE and LE

There may be some confusion as to the difference between Special Edition shoes and Limited Edition shoes now that we know what they are and why they are so sought after. Similar to how SEs are revered as the pinnacle of sneaker collecting, LEs enjoy a similar status for their limited availability. To what extent, though, do they overlap?

Limited Edition Shoes are a lot harder to come by than Special Edition Shoes, which can be thought of as an extension of the standard sneaker lineup. In fact, Special Editions aren't permanently added to the lineup, but rather, they're released for a limited time and sold during specific times of the year at a variety of Conversely, Limited Edition footwear is created for special occasions only and is rarely distributed on a wide scale.

Both Special Edition and Limited Release footwear are typically released in honor of a specific event or person, and both can include Limited Release iterations. Limited Edition products may, for instance, consist of a small run of a Special Edition product with extra customizations and special packaging.

Consequently, Limited-Edition shoes are even more exclusive and expensive than Special-Edition ones, as they are only produced in small quantities for a brief period of time. Limited Edition Shoes are made in extremely small quantities, and are typically only available through special order. Avid collectors have been known to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction for a pair of these shoes.

Where Do People Get SE Shoes?

In the last few years, the concept of "special" and "limited" edition shoes has shifted significantly, even though Special Edition shoes are available to anyone with the means to do so. Nowadays, sneakerheads search for and bid on these shoes at auctions to add them to their growing collections.

Collectors of sneakers, or "Sneakerheads," as they are commonly known, dedicate significant amounts of time and energy to building and maintaining their collections. This necessitates thinking about the type of footwear they want, searching for stores that sell them, and then haggling for a price that they consider fair. While many are dedicated to promoting a particular product or idea, others show their support for a particular celebrity.

Conversely, Special Edition shoes are a good investment for sneakerheads because their value rises directly with wear and tear. Because of this, many people who purchase limited-edition sneakers opt to keep them in their boxes forever. However, true Sneakerheads often look down on those who choose to remove them and wear them carelessly as a sign of wealth. That's what the fan forums seem to say, at least.


Shoe sizing and the meaning of the various abbreviations on the packaging can be confusing. However, the SE abbreviation denotes a special edition of a shoe that is produced in a smaller quantity than the regular release. Even though Limited Edition shoes may be included in a Special Edition shoe's lineup, there is a distinction between the two.

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