What year it has been. As it relates to sneakers, 2021 has been one for the record books. As our wallets already know, the calendar was flooded with so many great releases. As we close the curtain on 2021 we wanted to take a look back and answer the question “What was the sneaker of the year?” There’s absolutely no one better to ask than our amazing community members. We started with over 70 shoes and through voting were able to narrow it down to 10. Without further ado, here are the 2021 Sneakers of the Year, as voted on by the SoleSavy Community.
Narrowly missing the top 10 were the Union x Air Jordan 4 ‘Taupe Haze,’ Air Jordan 4 Retro ‘University Blue,’ and Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Mummy.’ A strong trio that in any other year easily cracks the top ten. That’s a testament to how many amazing sneakers hit shelves in 2021.
10. Air Jordan 11 Retro ‘Cool Grey’
Release Date: 12/11/2021
Retail Price: $225
Though it released just a week ago, our community was loving the Air Jordan 11 Retro ‘Cool Grey.’ This one certainly brings back a lot of memories. Worn by MJ during his time with the Washington Wizards, the AJ11 ‘Cool Grey’ returned just in time for its 20th Anniversary.
9. JoeFreshGoods x New Balance 990v3 ‘Outside Clothes’
Release Date: 9/10/2021
Retail Price: $220
Style Number: M990JG3-37726
WE OUTSIDE! The JoeFreshGoods x New Balance 990v3 ‘Outside Clothes’ entered our lives at the perfect time. On the heels of pandemic restrictions loosening up in some areas, there may be no shoe better to step out in than this effort from JoeFreshGoods. Inspired by the summer days of your childhood (playing with your friends, block parties, hanging out on the porch), these bad boys invoke emotion.
8. Aime Leon Dore x New Balance 550
Release Date: 04/16/2021
Retail Price: $130
When Aime Leon Dore and New Balance came together in 2020 for their spin on the classic 550, it marked the first time that the shoe hit shelves since 1989. Originally a basketball shoe, ALD founder Teddy Santis’ reimagination of the model had so many working the 550 into their everyday rotation. The 2021 effort from the sides doubles down on that premium, vintage look that made the original release so popular.
7. Patta x Nike Air Max 1 ‘Monarch’
Release Date: 10/08/2021
Retail Price: $160
How fitting that the seventh effort from Patta and Nike comes in at number seven on our sneaker of the year list. The Patta x Nike Air Max 1 ‘Monarch’ achieved quite the feat, creatively reinterpreting a classic model. Something we see all too often is collaborators just changing color-blocking, but with their wave pattern and mini swooshes, Patta managed to create a familiar stranger.
6. Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Hyper Royal’
Release Date: 04/17/2021
Retail Price: $170
Though not advertised as such, the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘Hyper Royal’ is very much a sequel to the popular AJ1 ‘Turbo Green’ that was released in 2019. The washed treatment had the masses swooning. This color treatment was so nice it had many of us asking when we’d see the next one.
5. Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘University Blue’
Release Date: 03/06/2021
Retail Price: $170
“From Nooooorth Carooolina…” We all know MJ’s Carolina roots run deep (grew up in Wilmington, went to UNC), and this AJ1 pays homage to his alma mater. Beautifully crafted (genuine leather, durabuck overlays), the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG ‘University Blue’ rounds out the top five.
4. Parra x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Abstract Art’
Release Date: 07/31/2021
Retail Price: $110
The delay of the 2020 Summer Olympics was one of many results of the Covid-19 global pandemic. That delay did buy some time in allowing Dutch artist Parra to evolve their vision for the 2020 Olympic Skateboarding teams. The kits were straight fire as was the Parra x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Abstract Art,’ which just missed the top three. Visually striking, this effort really highlights Parra’s intrepid take on pop art.
3. Travis Scott x Fragment x Air Jordan 1 Low
Release Date: 08/13/2021
Retail Price: $150
Triple collabs were all the rage this year in sneakers this year, and the most popular of which came from Travis Scott, Fragment, and Jordan Brand. The trio proved that three minds are greater than one. Seamlessly blending three unique perspectives into a sneaker that instantly became a modern classic. Our community was feelin’ the lows much more than the highs.
2. A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 1
Release Date: 12/03/2021
Retail Price: $200
The second effort from the two sides, the A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 1 takes the penultimate spot on our sneaker of the year list. Like its predecessor, this shoe is deeply rooted in community, with its inspiration coming from the daily realities that Black people across the country face. Every single detail of the AMM x AJ1 was chosen with purpose and was used to empower and uplift every voice.
1. Women’s A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 3
Release Date: 06/10/2021
Retail Price: $200
Was there ever a doubt? Since its release in June, the Women’s A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 3 has steadily led the race for sneaker of the year. So much more than a beautiful sneaker, the AMM x AJ3 is a sneaker with a purpose. It celebrates all the amazing women across the globe because “from the White House to any house, we are all raised by women, we are all led by women.”
Big thanks to everyone who voted, we appreciate all participation. Cheers to a great year of sneakers, can’t wait to run it back in 2022.
Words From Our Community
What was your top pick for sneaker of the year and why?
AMM 3 is my choice. It resonated with so many people raised by single mothers and actually did the people it was meant to honor justice. Giving women first dibs at copping and the beautiful execution of the actual worldwide drop was just icing on the cake. Not many collabs can claim that. – Chris from Seattle
The Patta AM1 in the Monarch colorway for me. Such a cool twist on an iconic model. (and mini swoosh 😍) – Uncle Drew
AMM3. Great message, perfect release/rollout, quality materials and boxing design were all on point! No brainer for me 💯 – KingSquanto
AMM3! story that comes behind the shoe is simply beautiful. I also wore these the day my daughter was born and @TRM helped me secure a pair for her as well. so these will always hold a special place in my heart and collection. – BP
AMM 3 had so much going for it. The shoe was amazing. The storytelling with it was sincere and great. And the way they released it. Trying to get it in as many women’s hands as they could and just doing a great job of keeping bots away was great! AMM to me kinda came out of nowhere and by far are the collabs I look forward to the most moving forward. – Will
I think it’s gotta be the AMM 3 from how they gave women their own raffle to their raffle for everyone and their flawless online release they really did their thing then the shoe they delivered was amazing hands down. Loved the story behind it and it was just super clean and almost luxurious. So glad they gave love to the 3s like that. – Gerard Kaplan
AMM 1s and the Aleali May 14s. Both are clean and have a wonderful story behind them. I’m a grandma girl so those 14s were a must!!! – Drea
Very against the general opinion: Adidas x Overkill zx8500. Awesome collaboration that really represents what Overkill is about and it’s the most aesthetically pleasing colorway and silhouette to me. – Christopher A
Very much went with Whitaker group releases for the powerful storytelling behind AMMs and SocialStatus drops. It’s one thing when the sneaker is good looking. It’s on another level, when it carries a strong story behind it. – Tohir
AMM 3 for me…The design, storytelling, materials, and release were all on point. James Whitner has become my favorite Nike/Jordan collaborator. – Simon
Carpet Company SB Dunk High for me. Looks great, feels great, has a wear/tear away upper, and comes with 17 lace options. What’s not to love!?!?! – Jim(TheHead)
Mine would have to be the New Balance 2002r Rain Cloud from the Protection Pack. In a year where New Balance saw some highly anticipated collabs, these snuck under the radar! The premium materials, deconstructed cuts, and different hints of grays (gray is the 2021 color of the year for me) lol plus the comfort of the 2002r model. You can dress it up or dress it down, the shoe is easy to wear which was the cherry on top for me. – Cello The Barber sz 8.5-9
AMM 3s without a doubt. Perfect execution on every aspect. – Jason Tang