The Top 25 Best Sneakers of 2021

2021 again brought us some great sneakers and some great surprise packages. Nike dominated again through providing a high volume of quality kicks but some would argue that 2021 was New Balance's year. New Balance have continued from a strong 2020 where the 327 silhouette was introduced and the 550 silhouette was reprised. Through collaborations with Salehe Bembury, Aimé Leon Dore and JJJJound, 2021 was a big win for New Balance.

Since we saw such a strong 2021 we had to increase our list to 25 to include some great kicks. Here's our Top 25 Sneakers of 2021, in no particular order: 

Jordan 3 Retro A Ma Maniere

Jordan 3 A Ma Maniere 

The Jordan 3 A Ma Maniére quickly became touted as the sneaker of the year as soon as it released. The iconic Jordan 3 gets a premium makeover with tumbled white leather, overlaid with soft grey suede and featuring a quilted lining. 

Jordan 1 High Travis Scott x Fragment

Air Jordan 1 Travis Scott Fragment

Jordan Brand, Travis Scott and Hiroshi Fujiwara's Fragment Design came together on the iconic Jordan 1 to put their own spin on. Their Air Jordan 1 colorway comes in familiar color blocking schemes, but with special touches only Scott and Fujiwara could've conjured up. 

New Balance 2002R Protection Pack “Rain Cloud”

New Balance 2002R Protection Pack “Rain Cloud”

New Balance designer Yue Wu's first lifestyle design presented us with what is now known as the "Protection Pack". Although Yue has confirmed that this is actually not the correct name for sneakers but "refined future". The pack featured a deconstructed look with materials teared away coming in white, black and grey. The sneakers became a hit as soon as images started circulating online and it was a huge success for an inline New Balance model.

Jordan 1 Retro High Trophy Room Chicago

Jordan 1 Retro High Trophy Room Chicago

Jordan Brand and Orlando-based retailer Trophy Room linked up once again to create one of the most anticipated releases of 2021, the Jordan 1 High Trophy Room. The design pays homage to Michael Jordan’s first All-Star appearance at the 1985 NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis, which coincided with the release of the Air Jordan 1.

New Balance 2002R Salehe Bembury Water Be The Guide

New Balance 2002R Salehe Bembury Water Be The Guide

Inspired by aquatic journeys, the New Balance 2002R Salehe Bembury Water Be The Guide features a pale orange mesh upper with hairy cyan suede overlays and dark green velour New Balance logos. A speckled white sole and lime green heel patch adds the finishing touches.

Nike Air Max 1 Patta Aqua Noise

Nike Air Max 1 Patta Aqua Noise

Another water inspired sneaker makes our list. Patta put their spin on the Nike Air Max 1 by adding in a wave shaped design element to the mudguard. The Monarch colorway released first with the Aqua Noise following and these are a work of art!

New Balance 990v4 JJJJound Navy

new balance 990v4 jjjjound navy

JJJJound and New Balance come together again on another MADE in USA classic, the 990v4. JJJJound’s take on the 990v4 Navy features a tonal nubuck and mesh construction with a textural contrast that highlights the silhouette’s nuanced colorway. Subtle 3M details, reflective secondary elastic laces and custom logo-molded toggles enhance a versatile functionality. The result is a minimal and modern sneaker that prioritizes design integrity—staying true to its original identity.

Nike Dunk Low Off-White

Nike Dunk Low Off-White

 An incredible 50 iterations of the Nike Dunk Low Off-White were created and it would be impossible to choose a standout as each one has their own unique characteristics and will ultimately be up to personal preference. The 50 uniquely customized sneakers, all accented by different colors and design features across the tongue, zip-tie, Swoosh, and lacing. This year also saw the passing of Off-White founder, Virgil Abloh, a true icon in streetwear. RIP.

Air Jordan 1 Hyper Royal

Air Jordan 1 Hyper Royal

Jordan Brand added a new colorway to their Jordan 1 catalog in the spring of 2021 with the Air Jordan 1 Hyper Royal. The Hyper Royal utilizes material selection and color blocking to provide a vintage feel, similar to the 2019 Air Jordan 1 High Turbo Green.

Nike SB Dunk Low Pro Parra Abstract Art

Nike SB Dunk Low Pro Parra Abstract Art

Nike and Dutch artist and sneaker collab veteran Parra teamed up to create art for the SB Dunk. The Dunk is one of the most eye catching releases of the year with the white leather on the upper creating a blank canvas so that overlays smothered in vibrant, retro Parra patterns rise to prominence.

Nike Air Max 90 NRG Bacon

Nike Air Max 90 NRG Bacon

One of the most legendary Air Max 90s got a rerelease in 2021 and was one of the more hyped drops of the year! Originally releasing in 2004 as a collab with Dave's Quality Meat, the sneaker gathered serious attention with its playful concept of using a color palette inspired by bacon.

New Balance 550 Aime Leon Dore Natural Green

New Balance 550 Aime Leon Dore Natural GreenAn old-school basketball silhouette, the 550 is reimagined here in a collaboration between New Balance and Aimé Leon Dore. Now presented as a lifestyle sneaker, the "Natural Green" is presented with pre-yellowed midsoles, paying homage to the 550's sporting heritage.

New Balance 990v3 Joe Freshgoods Outside Clothes

new balance 990v3 joe freshgoods outside clothes

Following last year’s “No Emotions Are Emotions” collab, Joe Freshgoods and New Balance teamed up once again to release a special edition 990v3 dubbed “Outside Clothes” inspired by the west side of Chicago-native’s personal life growing up throughout the 1990s.

Jordan 6 Retro Travis Scott British Khaki

Jordan 6 Retro Travis Scott British Khaki

Following on the heels of the coveted ‘Olive’ colorway from 2019, the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 6 Retro ‘British Khaki’ reunites Jordan Brand with the Houston rapper. The upper is crafted with suede and canvas, accented with Bright Crimson details.

Nike Air Force 1 Low Kith Hawaii

Nike Air Force 1 Low Kith Hawaii

To commemorate the opening of Kith’s first permanent presence in Hawaii, the brand worked with Nike to create a collaborative Air Force 1. This Air Force 1 features an off white midsole with hints of baby blue.

Nike SB Dunk Low Supreme Stars Black

Nike SB Dunk Low Supreme Stars Black

Supreme and Nike SB joined forces once again in 2021, only this time to deliver an SB Dunk Low inspired by one of the most sought-after Supreme SBs of all time. Donning gold stars and faux croc skin, the Nike SB Dunk Low Supreme Stars pack nods to the extremely rare 2003 Nike SB Dunk High Supreme. 


Jordan 4 Retro University Blue

Jordan 4 Retro University Blue

Dressed in a University Blue, Tech Grey, White, and Black colour scheme. With University Blue genuine suede leather upper, this new rendition of the Air Jordan 4 combines premium materials with a classic Jumpman color scheme. 


adidas Yeezy Boost 700 V2 Cream

adidas Yeezy Boost 700 V2 Cream

Our first adidas sneaker on the list. The Yeezy Boost 700 V2 Cream had mixed reviews but the color scheme and recognizable silhouette makes this sneaker a great go to with current fashion trends. 2021's fashion trends consisted heavily of creams, browns, and beiges. 

Nike Dunk High AMBUSH Deep Royal

Nike Dunk High AMBUSH Deep Royal

This release sees AMBUSH® founder Yoon Ahn team up with Nike to delivers a vibrant creation defined by co-branded detailing and basketball-inspired aesthetics. The third colorway of the collaboration features bold shades of Deep Royal Blue complemented by neutral hits of white and black.

Jordan 4 Retro Taupe Haze

Jordan 4 RetroTaupe Haze

Hype for the new Air Jordan 4 Taupe Haze started brewing when the teasers of the sneakers surfaced, with sneakerheads noting their similarities to Travis Scott’s unreleased Air Jordan 4 Olive. Despite being compared to such a hyped sneaker, the Air Jordan 4 Taupe Haze has characteristics that allow it to stand out on its own.

Nike Dunk Low Medium Curry

Nike Dunk Low Medium Curry

Nike added a luxe twist to the Dunk Low with the Nike Dunk Low Medium Curry. The Curry colorway first made its way onto the Nike Dunk Low in 1999 as part of the Nike CO.JP (Concept Japan) collection and got a 2021 release.

adidas Yeezy Boost 700 Sun

adidas Yeezy Boost 700 Sun

The Yeezy Boost 700 Sun features an upper composed of full-grain leather and suede overlays that offer a premium finish, soft hand feel, along with a supportive and durable wear. This bright Yeezy was one of the most out-there sneakers this year!

New Balance 993 Aime Leon Dore Taupe

New Balance 993 Aime Leon Dore Taupe

The New Balance 993 Aimé Leon Dore Taupe features a blue mesh and taupe premium suede upper with dark purple tumbled leather overlays. Yet another stunning New Balance for 2021.

Pharrell x Human Race Sichona 'Royal Blue'

Pharrell x Human Race Sichona 'Royal Blue'

The Sichona is all about self-expression and has been designed to offer freedom, linking back to the Humanrace moniker. As a result, it’s made from Primeknit and something adidas calls “Futurenatural,” which allows the wearer to move more freely while wearing the sneaker.

adidas Yeezy 450

Adidas Yeezy 450 

And closing off our list is the adidas Yeezy 450. Another sneaker that had contrasting views - people either loved or hated it. It is always great when boundaries are pushed and a new silhouette is brought into the market.

Special Mentions

 

 2021 was yet another great year and we are excited for 2022! It's going to be exciting to see which brands are making moves and which trends will follow!

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