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2020 Sneakers Of The Year

Wales Bonner X Adidas Samba Sneaker

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Over the last few years, Grace Wales Bonner has steadily built a devoted fanbase around her retro-inflected, defiantly regal ready-to-wear. Each season, the designer’s tracksuits remain a standout, offering up throughtful meditiations on the nature of modern masculinity. Her ongoing collaboration with the Three Stripes leans all the way into the throwback energy of her collections, and the Adidas Sambaa sneaker already primed to be one of the biggest of the yearhappens to be the perfect canvas on which to paint her vision.

Air Jordan 4 Off White

After debuting in the Off-White FW20 Womens fashion show earlier this year, the AJ4 Sail had people eagerly waiting for its release. With much anticipation and following a popular Air Jordan 5 collaboration from February, a release date was dropped and official imagery from Nike solidified its summer release. Exclusively made for women, the Air Jordan 4 Sail incorporated familiar deconstructed design elements used by Virgil Abloh on his other Jordan projects. It was met with great excitement by sneakerheads because of its execution and its exclusivity.

Nike Sb Dunk High Hawaii

  • Retail Price: $120
  • Release Date: Friday, April 23rd, 2021

This Nike SB Dunk High pays tribute to the islands of Hawaii in celebration of the 4/20 holiday.

These sneakers fittingly feature an upper embellished with floral patterns and soft hues. Blue and green aqua shades cover most of this sneaker with contrasting Sail flowers in variating shapes and sizes.

To match the flower aesthetics, soft Sail covers the throats leading up to matching tongues. Tongues that are a shade of yellow with Sail Nike branding.

The wear-away upper features suede materials and an extra secret pocket. Inside, however, is where things take a turn. Blazing red/orange footbeds with flaming skulls, palm trees, and volcano graphics cover the interiors.

Crisp white midsoles and sail rubber outsoles complete the look.

Resale for these sneakers will likely be very lucrative. Theyve already been sold for over $700 so expect gross profits close to $300 or more when they release.

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New Balance X Aim Leon Dore 550 Sneaker

In early April, Teddy Santis, the founder of Aimé Leon Dore, announced he was taking on a new position as creative director of New Balance’s Made in USA program. For the Boston-based sneaker behemoth, tapping Santis seemed like a savvy move for a number of reasonsnone more persuasive than the runaway success the duo have enjoyed every time they release a collaborative sneaker. The 550s the two dropped that same month hit a nerve, triggering an immediate “Add to cart” response and selling out just as fast. After setting the internet aflame yet again, the head honchos at New Balance must’ve cottoned on to the same thing thousands of sneaker fans figured out months earlier: When it comes to updating an old-school recipe with a little bit of modern flavor, Teddy Santis is magic in the kitchen.

Is There Any Place You Won’t Wear Sneakers

Sneaker of the Year 2020  Off

CS: Gala. Or Iceland.

RT: With skirts or dresses. Just looks too young.

WB: To the beach. Not the vibe.

DV: I felt like wearing sneakers at the park was really overrated. The moment I sit down on a park blanket, I want to take my shoes off. But then it felt weird to be wearing socks, especially if i wanted to ever get up and stretch my legs. There’s nothing worse than having a dirty sock. Does this make any sense?

NJ: Yeah, that thing where some bozo gets married and makes all of his groomsmen or bros wear them same suit with like a pair of black and white check Vans or something. I’ll never do that.

CC: I am not at all into the sneakers and a suit thing, so any time I’m wearing pants that I need to dry clean.

YG: Weddings, funerals, anywhere muddy.

SH: I don’t think I’ve ever worn sneakers on date. Fuckboy vibes!

CW: No.

SS: To a nice dinner.

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Travis Scott X Playstation X Nike Sb Dunk Low

The only reason why these things were ruled out of the Top Ten was the fact that only 5 pairs were made available. Otherwise, these things would have been towards the pointy end of the list. The three-headed hype behind them in Travis Scott, The Nike SB Dunk, and PlayStation was a preteens wet dream but hey, we like em, too.

Air Max Anniversary Air Max 90 Infrared& Air Max 95 Neon

We just couldnt split the two anniversary Air Max OGs, and were tipping that its a tough call for you, too. You can literally never, ever, go wrong with a pair of either of these and the best part is you can beat them up because theyll both be back in 5 years for their 35th and 30th anniversaries, respectively.

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Nike Sb Dunk Low Street Hawker

  • Retail Price: $110
  • Release Date: Friday, January 22nd, 2021

These sneakers already released back in January, however, youre sure to find them on anyones top sneakers of 2021 list.

Although they were originally released for the Chinese New Year that initiated the Year of the Ox, these sneakers also tell a story of Chinese cuisine.

Uppers feature watercolors that are mismatched in a What-The like fashion. Nike on the heel tabs are replaced with Chinese characters while white midsoles and mismatched outsoles complete the design.

Resale prices on StockX are at an average of $640 per pair for the shoes alone. The Special-Box edition, however, will cost you north of $1,300!

Stussy X Nike Air Zoom Spiridon Caged Fossil

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Stussy, the iconic American street/surfwear brand, has been making headlines as of late in honor of its 40th anniversary. After collaborating with Kim Jones and Dior last year, Stussy went back to its roots for its newest collaboration with Nike. Alongside a set of the coziest sweats, Stussy collaborated with the Swoosh on the underrated Air Zoom Spiridon Caged 2 silhouette. The brand dropped a handful of colorways this year, but the Fossil stands out. Its upper features a monochromatic, dusty Fossil colorway, with black accents along the Swoosh and on the cage, which encapsulates the Zoom Air in the heel. With a woven textile as the upper this sneaker was the perfect complement to those extra cozy sweats.

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Describe Your Current Sneaker Rotation: Number Of Sneakers Types Colors Etc

CG: I rotate between a pair of old ACG Nikes and Merrell Moabs, depending on the activity.

RT: Six pair: Salomon XT-6s, white Air Max, Virgil’s white Air Maxes from 2017, gold Common Projects , La Sportiva Nucleos , Vans Authentics in powder pink.

WB: Lots of Converse, Air Jordans, Air Force 1s.

DV: I mostly wear my Birks and loafers, but when I wear sneakers, I switch between three: the white ones from New Republic, black Adidas Sambas, and the yellow Nike x Gyakusou Zoom Pegasus 36s.

NJ: It’s really just been functionalskate shoes for skating, running shoes for running, some New Balance 990s for walking and chilling. Otherwise it’s been a lot of non-sneakers since COVID times.

CC: One pair of NB 990s!

YG: Most days, I lazily cycle through the aforementioned Adidas skate shoes, gray New Balance 990s, and fuzzy orange Converse One Stars because they’re all low-maintenance and go with pretty much everything. But every once in awhile I’ll break something special out from the rest of my collection: my Nike Shox VC 2s, maybe, or my EG Hokas.

CS: Five? Two for running alone. Others for stylish comfort and my bodega man.

CW: Just two sneakers: the aforementioned white Reeboks and a pair of the New Balance 990v5s in grey.

MM: Reebok Club C 85s, White Vans, J.Crew x New Balance 998 collab circa 2014, and the New Balance 850 OG Reissue.

Travis Scott X Fragment Design Jordan 1 Low Sneaker

Unless you’ve been living under a rock with, like, really bad WiFi, you’ve probably found yourself lusting after a pair of sneakers with Travis Scott’s fingerprints on ’em. Over the last few years, the musician turned reluctant “branding” maestro has been responsible for some of the most widely coveted shoes on the market, and that’s not by mistakethe man manipulates hype with the seasoned dexterity of a hotshot broker exploiting a nanosecond-long glitch in the trading algorithm. Over the summer, his Cactus Jack imprint linked with Fragment Design’s Hiroshi Fujiwara to rejigger the Air Jordan 1, in low top and high top form. The latter silhouette inspired more chatter online , but it’s the former that looks the cleanest done up in Fragment’s signature shades of blue and black.

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Union Jordan 4 Guava Ice August 29th 2020

Los Angeles-based streetwear brand Union dropped a truly dope collection of Jordans this year, but the AJ4 in Guava Ice was easily the best. While many of the shoes on this list require descriptions for you to savvy out the references, thats unneeded here.

Just look at these and youll get why they hit our list!

Travis Scott X Nike Sb Dunk Low Jackboys

Nike 2020

There is no denying that 2020 has undoubtedly been the year of the Nike Dunk. Weve seen almost 50 pairs release this year alone, with a number of collaborations and skate shop exclusives pairs being the most sought after. Part of the reason that the Dunk has seen such a resurgence in popularity is thanks to names like Virgil Abloh and Travis Scott. After teasing his own collaboration in his JackBoys video in late 2019, we were treated to a Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk Low of our own earlier this year.

It should come as no surprise that this pair made our top 10. Constructed in a number of materials, the Travis Scott Nike SB features everything from suede to denim and leather to nubuck. Tearaway panels also feature subtle patterns, as well as the Houston rappers Cactus Jack Records branding. Contrasting Swooshes on the medial and lateral side create further texture, whilst the vintage midsole and gum sole bring this pair to a close. This is easily in the top three SB Dunks to release in 2020.

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New Balance X Aim Leon Dore 993 Sneaker

First teased in Aimé Leon Dore’s Fall/Winter lookbook way back in September, the latest New Balance to benefit from the ALD effect is one eagle-eyed followers weren’t sure would ever see the light of day. After setting off a flurry of speculation in subreddits and comment sections months before its release, the collaborative 993 surprise-dropped the first week of November in two colorways. Both are worthy of inclusion here, but it’s the “Beef & Broccoli” version that got the most mouths watering online, capping off a whirlwind year for the Teddy Santis-helmed brand that included a formal solidification of his relationship with New Balance and the type of timeline dominance labels double ALD’s age would sacrifice a posse of interns for.

Ten Selections And Two Honorable Mentions Hand

In this Article

Collecting, loving, buying and even wearing sneakers is different now than its ever been before. At the end of 2019, we noted that everyone wanted to be a sneakerhead in our annual end-of-year list. In 2020, that hasnt really changed but so much else has. Although sneaker collecting has long been trending towards a digital pastime with online raffles, flexes and resell sites like StockX and GOAT taking the place of campouts, meet-ups and conventions, this year forced the game even further in that direction owing to sweeping changes necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. Beginning-of-year prediction lists? Rip em up. The Olympic Games, an annual innovation summit for the worlds biggest footwear brands? Postponed until 2021. Release dates? More flexible, fluid and likely to be pushed back than ever before.

Now, with the rollercoaster that was 2020 coming to a close, the HYPEBEAST footwear team has looked back across the entirety of the year to select its ten best sneakers and two honorable mentions. Pull on your favorite pair and lets get right into it: theres a lot of great sneakers from the past twelve months for us to discuss.

Heison Ho/Hypebeast

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Reebok X Cottweiler Zig 3d Storm Hydro Sneaker

Cottweiler might not be a household name yet, but this year the upstart British label delivered one of the best sneakers in the game, redoing Reebok’s futuristic Zig 3D Storm Hydro silhouette in a dark palette of black and browns. The forward-looking lacing system, the discrete sock liner, the thick foam cushioning: These are sneakers you could wear to colonize Mars, or at the very least, make an outsize impression down on Earth.

Honorable Mention: Oamc X Adidas Type

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adidas A-ZX series meant that almost everyone had a go at reworking silhouettes from the ZX line this year. Arguably the stand-out take on the ZX, though, comes from Luke Meiers OAMC label, which, outside of the A-ZX project, reimagined the familiar lines style into the Type-O6. The new sneaker mixed technical elements with more classic construction, including premium leather alongside mesh panels and a webbing Three Stripes.

Finishing touches on the sneaker continued its technical aesthetic, with a digital print graphic on the lateral side and a rope-toggle lacing system. This upper sat atop a futuristic sole unit, consisting of four rounded pods. OAMC and adidas Originals released the sneaker in four colorways including Olive Drab and Sand, but the real stand-outs were the classic Black and Dust White, which gave the technical construction space to shine. -Jack Stanley


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Throughout the year, hit collabs largely fueled the shoes fandom, including statement Dunks by rap star Travis Scott, as well as looks inspired by legendary rock band the Grateful Dead and beloved ice cream company Ben & Jerrys.

The love for the Nike Dunk collaborations was so great that several looks sold for thousands of dollars on the resale market not long after flying off shelves. For instance, the Ben & Jerrys Chunky Dunky was priced at almost $10,000 on StockX within days of its retail release.

Nike also moved the needle in 2020 by nodding to the Dunks college hoops roots: Among the many versions to hit retail were styles inspired by universities with historic basketball programs, most notably Kentucky and Syracuse.

Off-White founder Virgil Abloh, who delivered several colorways this year of the Rubber Dunk, explained that the sneaker has deep significance. There are multiple cultural underpinnings that make this shoe special. Obviously, its relation to the heritage of the Air Jordan 1 is important, its on-the-court styling and shape and performance of the shoe during the college basketball era, he told FN. You could get the aesthetic of the iconic Jordan 1, but in the colorways of many top basketball schools.

Although the Dunk got its start in basketball, the skate community gave the sneaker new life in 2002, with the creation of the Nike SB line. And fans of the Dunk SB had plenty to cheer about this year.

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Nike Sb Dunk Low X Ben & Jerrys Chunky Dunky May 26th 2020

Sneaker and food brand collaborations are generally trash. But the Chunky Dunky made in collaboration with Ben & Jerrys, in what was probably the weirdest link-up of the year really defied expectations. This sneaker was full of sort of details that sneakerheads go crazy over. Animal print uppers, this time as a long-hair cow-print synergy between the collaborating parties, check out how the upper resembles Ben & Jerrys iconic logo and a cool variation on the ever-iconic Nike Swoosh, our least favorite detail about this one but still noteworthy.

This year belonged to the Nike Dunk and no iteration of the sneaker was as iconic as this one.

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Sneaker Freakers 2020 Staff Picks

Weve finally made it to the end of the year , and were sure youre all looking forward to some tranquillity in 2021. To say the past 365 days have been unpredictable would be a gross understatement. However, despite 2020 being filled with its fair share of confusion and uncertainty, the coveted sneaker drops kept rolling in.

The year has made many of us drunk on the Dunk, while others were simply thankful to rekindle their love for old favourites. The playbook on hype was rewritten, with resell prices rising to never-before-seen levels of stonk. Copping was definitely tougher, but thankfully we could numb the pain with re-runs of Tiger King and The Last Dance.

In a year of bona fide bangers, here were the Sneaker Freaker staffers best releases for 2020.

Crocs X Salehe Bembury Pollex Clog

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Salehe Bembury is the hottest solo act in the sneaker world right now. After leaving the top footwear gig at Versace to strike out on his own, the designer’s carved out a lane for himself via a slew of collaborations, none more simpatico than this year’s team-up with Crocs. For his first foray into the realm of sneaker-ish clogs, Bembury tricked out the brand’s signature perforated silhouette with distinctive concave ridges and nifty removable heel straps. The result was a shoe that doesn’t look like any other on the market , a worthy capstone to a massive year for both parties.

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