WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
Each year, the Swoosh drops a ton of sneakers – and 2021 looks to be no different. But whilst this may be music to the ears of collectors, it’s not so great news for the sneaker-illiterate amongst us, keen to keep up with the times.
To help those who relate to the latter, we’ve teamed up with Stadium Goods – New York City's favored sneaker store – to create a list of the best Nike sneakers of 2021. Naturally, each is already available (in some shape or form) right here on FARFETCH.
‘Nike plans to release many new Nike Dunk colorways this year. Several Dunks have already been previewed, and you can count on Nike SB to drop plenty of wild new collaborations. Personally, I’m excited because Nike is rumored to be dropping the Dunks in less-limited quantities; therefore, I might actually be able to get a pair that I want!’ Zack Schlemmer of Stadium Goods
Dunks– they’re having a major moment right now. From Dunk Lows to Dunk Highs, SB Dunks to Dunk Disrupt, the Nike shoe is being worn in all its variations by tastemakers across the globe, and we’re not mad about it.
First released for basketball players back in 1985, the sneaker, designed by Peter Moore, has been adopted by manifold subcultures across the years – including, but not limited to 80s hip-hoppers and 90s skaters. A short time ago, Dunks made a grand return with a little help from modern-day deities Virgil Abloh, Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner. Thenceforth, the shoe has been a symbol of one’s awareness of the mode.
What pair of Nike Dunks should you opt for? Well, that all depends on your personality, as Dunks are all about expressing yourself. Fancy yourself a rocker? Perhaps the furry, bear-like Grateful Dead collab is right up your street. Enjoy the occasional tipple? Why not add a Hennessey-inspired pair of Dunks to your rotation. Prefer to keep things classic? For you, we suggest incorporating the OG Dunk High Michigans into your style.
But before you make any decisions, we suggest you read up about the sizing and fit of Dunks in our guide.
Nike Air Max 95
'The return of the original (and iconic) neon colorway at the end of 2020 set the stage for some renewed interest in the Air Max 95 model. Now, Nike has some fresh new colorways on the horizon.’ Zack Schlemmer of Stadium Goods
Ahead of its time when it first debuted, the futuristic Nike Air Max 95 feels at home in the 2020s – especially in its OG neon colorway. The sneaker, designed by Sergio Lozano who famously took inspiration from the walls of the Grand Canyon, introduced dual Air chamber soles to Air Max which changed the sneaker line forever.
Today, the Air Max 95 silhouette is recognized as one of the best Air Max designs of all time, and a must-have for sneaker collectors. As you can imagine, we’re looking forward to seeing all of the brand-new colorways coming this year – especially the Coral Studios x Nike Air Max 95 collab.
Nike Air Max 180
'2021 marks the 30th anniversary for the Air Max 180, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nike do something special for it.’ Zack Schlemmer of Stadium Goods
Created by Tinker Hatfield – the man behind the Air Max 1 – the Air Max 180 looked and felt revolutionary back in 1991 thanks to its large Air unit. But it's the sneaker’s artsy charm that’s helped it survive over the years – an allure that’s difficult to put into words.
But what we can help you fathom is that the sneaker is a timeless and versatile addition to your wardrobe (no matter your personal style) thanks to its neo-retro aesthetic and considerate use of color. Ergo, we’re over the moon to hear that a comeback is likely imminent; we’re just hoping that includes the OG Ultramarine colorway. (*drools*)
Nike Air Griffey Max 1
‘There were a ton of amazing sneakers released in 1996 that have their 25th anniversary this year, so there will be a lot of energy surrounding those they chose to re-release. For example, we already know Nike is bringing back the Air Griffey Max 1 – a sneaker that’s always been pretty popular here in the US.’ Zack Schlemmer of Stadium Goods
In 1996, Nike collaborated with baseball hero Ken Griffey Jr. to create the aptly titled Nike Air Griffey Max 1. 25 years later, the Swoosh is set to hit a home run once more by bringing the chunky model back in its classic form.
What makes the Air Griffey Max 1 different from the other Air Max sneakers? Well, there’s its adjustable ankle strap, emblazoned with the athlete’s jersey number (24); unique Swoosh logo that extends to the toe box; wavy sidewall, designed with nubuck and leather; and boot-like construction that sits somewhere between mid-top and hi-top. It’s also important to note that the sneaker comes in some of the freshest colorways to exist in the Air Max line. Bearing all of this in mind, Stadium Goods are calling it one of the best sneakers 2021 has to offer.
Air Jordan 1 High
'At this point, I think the Air Jordan 1 High will forever stay one of the most popular sneakers. It’s just so wearable and versatile. As long as Jordan brand continues to produce aesthetically pleasing colorways and exciting collaborations, the silhouette isn’t going anywhere.’ Zack Schlemmer of Stadium Goods
The Air Jordan 1 High is frequently considered the OG hype sneaker; it shocked the world back in 1985 with its cutting-edge design and wide-ranging appeal. Once again, the court silhouette is an icon of the resell market (and the counterfeit market) as the world and his wife look to get their hands on a pair.
How did the AJ1 High reach the pinnacle of style once again? It’s simple — Jordan brand released a slew of carefully considered collaborations and classic colorways (circa 2017) to grab the attention of veteran sneakerheads and voguish trendsetters alike. Soon after, the sneaker was deemed ‘hot right now’ once more.
This year, the Jumpman is keeping the hype alive with some sure-fire fuel. Among the upcoming releases are the highly anticipated ‘85 Neutral Grey, University Blue and Court Purple colorways – some of the best sneakers 2021 is bringing.
Air Jordan 4
'The Air Jordan 4 looks like it’s primed to have another big year. We’ve already seen some great lifestyle looks, such as Starfish and Taupe Haze.’ Zack Schlemmer of Stadium Goods
If you’re not familiar with Jordan brand’s 1989 silhouette, the Air Jordan 4, then we bet our bottom dollar you will be by the end of 2021.
The Air Jordan 4 is a key silhouette to fans of the Nike sub-label. Tinker Hatfield’s clean, linear design stands out thanks to its mesh paneling and especial lacing system which incorporates a wing-like triangular component that pays homage to the brand’s OG logo.
Set to make a huge impact with some of the freshest colorways ever seen in Jordan history (e.g. Taupe Haze), Stadium Goods predicts the streets will soon be rife with AJ4 sneakers. For this reason, we suggest you cop a pair before everyone else. After all, who doesn’t want to be the trendsetter of their town?
Air Jordan 5
'2020 was the 30th anniversary of the Jordan 5 silhouette, but Nike seems to be dropping just as many, if not more, colorways this year. I love the timeless silhouette, so any year is perfect for it if you ask me.’ Zack Schlemmer of Stadium Goods
Having re-entered mainstream fashion when Virgil released an Off-White take on the sneaker, the Air Jordan 5 is, once again, a must-have component in your rotation. Lucky for us, they’re one of our favourite silhouettes ever.
The Air Jordan 5 is a Tinker Hatfield design inspired by WW2 fighter jets. Featuring a shark tooth midsole, reflective tongue and clear outsole, the sneaker – first worn by Michael Jordan in 1990 in a black and metallic silver colorway – was an instant winner in the eyes of sneakerheads and avid b-ball fans.
This year, the sneaker will be released in a slew of contemporary colorways, including Anthracite, Raging Bull and a modish version of Stealth, dubbed Stealth 2.0. That being so, the silhouette is a sensible investment for those looking to stay on trend (until at least 2022).