Sneakers

BEST SNEAKERS OF 2021

13 January 2022

Take a trip through the past year's top sneakers - will your favourite be featured?

A year of highs and lows, 2021's tumultuous trajectory failed to stop the sneaker-verse from delivering a bumper crop of exceptional footwear releases.

From New Balance's inaugural collaboration with Rich Paul to YEEZY's "Ochre" Foam Runner, 2021 has been a year that has certainly not been short on forward thinking sneakers that challenged and delighted sneakerheads, streetwear aficionados and luxury fashion fans alike. Brimming with innovative design, high-heat collaborations and the occasional unexpected hit, the past year delivered its fair share of truly memorable silhouettes.

As 2021 comes to a close, and we optimistically look to the beginning of 2022, END. looks back over the past year, spotlighting a selection of sneakers that remained ever-present in our hearts and our footwear rotations.

CROCS X SALEHE BEMBURY
CROCS X SALEHE BEMBURY

With his inaugural collaboration with Crocs, Salehe Bembury tapped into his transformative approach to modern footwear design, honouring the footwear label’s heritage while also steering things in his usual innovative direction with a distinctive interpretation based on the most personal of inspirations - Bembury's own fingerprint.

NIKE X PATTA AIR MAX 1 "MONARCH"
NIKE X PATTA AIR MAX 1 "MONARCH"

Offering up a remixed rendition of the iconic Tinker Hatfield designed silhouette, Nike teamed up with Dutch streetwear legends Patta to deliver their unusual take on the influential footwear style. A continuation of the two brands' longstanding collaborative relationship, the "Monarch" saw Patta build on their history and heritage - a celebration of the Amsterdam-based brand's commitment to culture and community - to deliver one of the year's most earth shattering and hyped collabs.

NEW BALANCE X PAPERBOY 992
NEW BALANCE X PAPERBOY 992

After an extremely limited release at the beginning of the year, the sought after New Balance x Paperboy 992 "Egg" sneaker hatched to the wider public with much fanfare. Inspired by New Balance's iconic Chicken Foot, this delicately hued style is brimming with French charm and subtle details - the perfect over easy sneaker.

ADIDAS X BAD BUNNY FORUM
ADIDAS X BAD BUNNY FORUM

Built in a quintessentially 'back to school' all-black palette, Bad Bunny's riff on the adidas Forum was a celebration of individuality and forging your own path. The Puerto Rican vocalist's forward-thinking remix of the court-classic saw the Forum enjoy a resurgence over the past year, imbuing the retro silhouette with a slew of tactical details to deliver a hardware-laden style perfected for the fashion forward.

NIKE X FRAGMENT DESIGN X TRAVIS SCOTT AIR JORDAN 1 RETRO LOW OG
NIKE X FRAGMENT DESIGN X TRAVIS SCOTT AIR JORDAN 1 RETRO HIGH OG
NIKE X FRAGMENT DESIGN X TRAVIS SCOTT AIR JORDAN 1 RETRO HIGH & LOW OG

A behemoth of the sneaker zeitgeist, Nike's recent collaborative Air Jordan 1 sneakers with Hiroshi Fujiwara's Fragment Design and Travis Scott saw the trio of cultural titans transform the iconic court style in High and Low with a Military Blue and Muslin palette.

NEW BALANCE X RICH PAUL 550
NEW BALANCE X RICH PAUL 550

One of 2021's premier sleeper hits, the New Balance x Rich Paul 550 sneaker saw the sports agent further cement his deep-rooted ties to basketball with the 550 — a recently revived, court-focused sneaker — brought under the spotlight.

REEBOK X MAISON MARGIELA PROJECT 0 CLASSIC LEATHER TABI
REEBOK X MAISON MARGIELA PROJECT 0 CLASSIC LEATHER TABI

Splicing together two icons, Reebok and Maison Margiela's Project 0 Classic Leather Tabi sneakers encapsulated revolutionary footwear design and polarising aesthetics - an embodiment of the iconoclastic nature of the tabi-toed shoe and the familiarity of the Classic Leather sneaker.

AIR JORDAN X A MA MANIERE 3 RETRO
AIR JORDAN X A MA MANIERE 3 RETRO

Teaming up with Atlanta-based boutique A Ma Maniere, Air Jordan shared their continued dedication to the legendary AJ3 sneaker with a neutral colourway that delivered the perfect combination of both classic basketball aesthetics and A Ma Maniere's penchant for sophisticated style.

YEEZY FOAM RUNNER "OCHRE"
YEEZY FOAM RUNNER "OCHRE"

Made from algae, the Foam Runner was the first footwear style from YEEZY to be entirely produced in the USA. Presenting a perfect lifestyle model, Ye continues to remain a constant within the sneaker zeitgeist, showcasing his unwavering prescience with this esoteric and cutting edge style - one that arguably kick started the injection moulded trend.

NEW BALANCE TOKYO DESIGN STUDIO X STONE ISLAND RC ELITE
NEW BALANCE TOKYO DESIGN STUDIO X STONE ISLAND RC ELITE

Coming together to celebrate their shared vision, innovative techniques and research-driven design, Stone Island and New Balance's Tokyo Design Studio presented the RC Elite sneaker. A performance runner at its core, the silhouette placed material experimentation at the forefront, blending technical expertise and an uncompromising aesthetic.

NIKE X SACAI X FRAGMENT DESIGN LDWAFFLE
NIKE X SACAI X FRAGMENT DESIGN LDWAFFLE

A momentous collaboration, Nike, Sacai and the Godfather of streetwear teamed up to share a duo of LDWaffle sneakers, cast in a quiet combination of Smoke Grey and Blue Void respectively. One of the Beaverton brand's most beloved collaborations in recent years, Nike and Sacai tapped Hiroshi Fujiwara to embellish the cutting-edge style with his trademark printed branding for a further boost of street-ready appeal.

AIR JORDAN X OFF-WHITE AIR JORDAN 2 RETRO LOW
AIR JORDAN X OFF-WHITE AIR JORDAN 2 RETRO LOW

Virgil Abloh's final collaboration with Nike prior to his untimely passing, the Air Jordan 2 Retro Low pack saw the legendary designer elucidate his unique perspective and cultural cachet for a final time. Designed to mimic Michael Jordan's game-worn sneakers, with a cracked-effect midsole inspired by a pair found crumbling in the Jordan archives, Abloh celebrated his love for the seminal basketball player and his sporting legacy, further cementing his own undeniable influence within the modern fashion canon.

writerEND.
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