2021 is already half-over. But few can forget 2020, a year defined by a looming pandemic and social unrest. And though it’ll be long before we ever return to “normal,” the CDC has at least deemed it safe to step outside comfortably unmasked.
As commutes turn from seconds up to hours, many are leaving their sneakers at home, thus ushering in a new age of formal, sartorial footwear (think loafers, derbies, etc). Regardless, the culture has continued to produce some heavy hitters, with brands the likes of Nike, adidas, and New Balance spearheading new, innovative forms, bringing back fan-favorite collaborators, and celebrating holidays like 4/20.
To commemorate the best of the year thus far, we’ve compiled what we believe to be 2021’s best sneakers, all having released prior to publication. Numerous criteria — such as cultural impact, design, demand, and factors beyond — inform every decision; but like all lists, there exists some level of subjectivity, so you may not agree with every pick. The same is true of the staff itself, so we’ve added a few of our personal “honorable mentions” to both spotlight our personal tastes and the praise-worthy sneakers beyond the existing ten.
Now, without further ado, here’s the Top 10 Sneakers of 2021 (so far).
10. Bodega x New Balance 990v3 “Anniversary” 15 years is no short while. And despite uncertainties in retail during 2020, Bodega has easily come out on top, leaving a mark commemorated by the collaborative New Balance 990v3 “Anniversary.” Though just a shoe to some — for Bodega, the collaboration is proof they were here.
THE HONORABLE MENTIONS/PERSONAL FAVORITES
CdG x Nike Air Carnivore
Concepts x ASICS GEL-LYTE III “Otoro”
UNDFTD x Nike Air Force 1 “Ballistic”
Andersson Bell x ASICS GEL-1090
Reebok Zig 3D Storm Hydro
A.FOUR x Merrell Jungle Chukka
Nike Dunk Low “Medium Curry”
Nike Waffle One
Patta x New Balance 991