The Best Sneakers of 2021 (So Far)

Mike Kim

No matter how you slice it, 2020 was a truly miserable year. Silver linings of any sort were few and far between. If you’re a diehard sneaker devotee, what little consolation there was to be had could probably be found in the release of some of the most talked about sneakers in recent memory (though even today, actually getting your hands on any of them remains an entirely different story).

As per usual, the most coveted styles hardly saw the widest releases—on the contrary. In fact, depending on your disposition and/or your luck gaming the SNKRS app, the unrelenting churn of the sneaker release cycle might’ve been but one of many—albeit slightly less pressing—factors that contributed to the general sense of malaise that defined the year. Stacking up Ls week after week hurts, regardless of how numb to the sensation you think you’ve become.

This year, all that changes. Because a January that’s already included a show-stopping Inauguration Day cameo from a certain pair of ultra-rare Jordans means the coming months are shaping up to be way better than the last, for sneaker enthusiasts and those who wouldn’t know a “Chunky Dunky” from an, uh, actual tub of Chunky Monkey.

So yes, the year is young. You got me. And yet! Hope springs eternal, even for a sneakerhead. 2021 is off to a rip-roaring start, and here’s all the sweetest sneakers we’ve seen so far. In the immortal words of one Kimberly Guilfoyle: THE BEST IS YET TO COME! (We can totally joke about that now, right?)

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Nike x Notre Dunk High ‘Light Orewood Brown’


2020 was, without a doubt, the year of the dunk. If Nike has any say in the matter, the style isn’t going away any time soon. The brand kicked off the new year by teaming up with Chicago-based shop Notre on a pair of Dunk highs that prove the style is here to stay—for good. Come for the clean, almost-neutral design, stay for the instantly iconic reimagining of Nike’s swoosh logo, now tweaked to include Notre’s signature handshake detail.

Release: 1/21

Retail Price: $150.00

New Balance Nobium Concept 1 ‘Gray’


When New Balance’s Tokyo Design Studio dropped a collaboration with Snow Peak late last year, it was clear the brand had a hit on its hands. The Nobium Concept 1—a multipurpose, trail-ready shoe that can be worn as a boot, mule, or slip-on—seemed perfectly suited for the reality of WFH life (and a growing appreciation for the simple pleasures of the great outdoors). Now it’s back, in a neutral gray colorway so crisp it’s hard not to see it as a throwing-down of the gauntlet.

Release: 1/15

Retail Price: $299.00

Nike Space Hippie 04 ‘Chambray Blue’


Nike’s Space Hippie line—the brand’s funky footwear collection designed for the athletes of the not-so distant future—continues to thrill at every turn. The Swoosh’s latest release updates a fan-favorite, eco-friendly silhouette in a chambray composition, all anchored by the style’s distinctive crater foam sole. Sure, it’s technically a women’s sneaker, but when has that ever stopped you before? You know the drill: Size up 1.5 and get ready to fly.

Release: 1/11

Retail Price: $130.00

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Source : Esquire