It’s getting harder and harder to predict what will happen in the sneaker industry. The word ‘unprecedented’ has been thrown around a lot, but perhaps some things aren’t as spontaneous as they appear to be. Scratching beneath the surface of what’s happening right now can inform some plausible events that could happen in 2022. So, let’s peer into the crystal sneakersphere and guess what’s coming.
Supply Chain Woes Continue
The past two years have seen massively disrupted supply chains as a result of the ongoing pandemic and a ship called Ever Given. With quite a few upcoming sneaker releases already postponed, don’t expect logistics to be rectified for a while longer. Do anticipate carefully worded statements from brands like Nike such as: ‘[W]e are not immune to the global supply chain headwinds that are challenging the manufacture and movement of product around the world… Marketplace demand will exceed available supply for holiday, spring and summer seasons.’ This does not mean a shortage of sneakers on the market; if anything, there’s already an excess of current product.
Reebok’s Victory Lap?
This year’s acquisition of Reebok by Authentic Brands Group means things could eventually be heading in a different direction, but it’s unlikely it’ll be next year. As the machinations of upcoming product collections and collaborations are already in action, there will still be plenty of heat to come. And after that, if the creative tap is suddenly switched off, then at least the industry will look back on 2022 as Reebok’s victory lap. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the fruits of the Vector brand’s labour from the past few years, now free of adidas’ oversight.
There Can Only Be One
The Nike Dunk has had a pretty good run for the past two years, but the afterglow from its 35th anniversary is starting to fade away after an overwhelming abundance of releases. With the mainstream hopping between various 1980s basketball shoes, the next silhouette to ride the hype train is probably going to be the Air Force 1. It’s been bubbling away for a while – to be honest, it never left – but 2022 is going to see a concerted push by the Swoosh to celebrate the model’s 40th anniversary.
The Digital Takeover
Nike and adidas have both demonstrated major commitments to the growing Metaverse by partnering with NFT entities – or in the former’s case, acquiring them outright. As it’s been demonstrated so far, it seems to be for the purposes of IP protection or creating a new asset class. How things play out in the virtual world/s and translate into the real one is yet to be seen, but the graphic and creative possibilities of digital information will likely see some daring and out-there creations from customisers. As the aforementioned supply chain issues continue, perhaps many sneakerheads will have to enjoy their latest purchases by virtual means.
Certified Custom Artistry
The custom sneaker game has never been so diverse. In the old days, personalising shoes was an agricultural process of applying paint to leather or canvas. That still happens, but now creative sneakerheads are learning cobbling skills to reverse engineer popular models using exotic materials, while others are finding factories around the world to create blatant ‘homage’ designs. The moral quandary of custom sneakers, especially those that are based on trademarked designs (of which most are) remains debated; however, it’s promising to see a democratic process whereby consumers are getting what they want by doing and making it themselves. There'll be plenty more of this in 2022.
These aren't the only events we're looking forward to in 2022. Count down the days to some major sneaker anniversaries happening next year here.