2021 was a heck of a year for adidas. The Three Stripes expanded into new realms – both digital and physical – and upgraded its already-stacked roster of A-list collaborative partners as well, all while doubling down on its pre-existing strong points. From fresh Yeezys to colabs with Bad Bunny, from some of the best IP products we've seen in a while, to advances in sustainability, there was news on all fronts! At the same time, Jerry Lorenzo was quietly cooking up his first adidas products, set to release in 2022. Safe to say, we're excited for what's in store in the coming years – but before we look ahead, let's take a glance back at adidas' biggest hits from 2021 first.
A New Era for Yeezy
Even though Kanye West and adidas' Yeezy line has only been around for about seven years, it's impossible to imagine the modern-day world of sneakers without it. Shoes like the Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 and Yeezy BOOST 700 have become current-day classics, carving out a place in the hearts and on the feet of millions.
However, the most interesting thing about the Yeezy line in 2021 was all the brand new styles it put out. Sure, the cornerstones didn't go anywhere – over ten takes on the 350 V2 hit shelves and you couldn't escape the Foam Runner or Yeezy Slide if you tried – but it was the introduction of silhouettes like the Yeezy 450, the Yeezy Knit Runner Boot, the Yeezy NSTLD Boot, the Yeezy Knit Runner and the Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 CMPCT that really got people talking. It feels as if Yeezy started a bold new era instead of just making small tweaks to existing silhouettes, which is fitting of West's innovative abilities.
Queen B Reigns Supreme
Beyonce is called Queen B for a reason! Since her IVY PARK label inked a deal with adidas in 2019 she's pumped out richly-detailed sets of footwear and apparel, all with their own unique backstory and specific colour palette. In 2021 alone, there were a whopping five collections: February's winter wonderland-themed 'ICY PARK', July's beach-ready 'FLEX PARK', August's Wild West-themed 'RODEO', October's collection of workout gear that brought in Peloton and a tennis/prep-themed 'HALLS OF IVY' offering in December.
Each of these set Beyonce's loyal Beyhive into a frenzied buzz, and quite unlike the standard celebrity-meets-fashion brand capsule, they all offered thoughtful designs and meaningful inspirations. For example, 'RODEO' unearthed a little-known piece of history by celebrating the importance of Black cowboys to the Wild West, while 'FLEX PARK' promoted body positivity across all shapes, sizes and colours of people. That's not easy to do, but we must say Beyonce made it look ***Flawless.
Never shy to venture into the bold unknown, adidas kept that up in 2021. While many footwear brands opted for surface-level metaverse cash grabs, adidas went right to the source code of the new digital world, teaming up with outfits like Bored Ape Yacht Club and giving its most loyal CONFIRMED app users POAP tokens. Only time will tell where the metaverse winds up, but you've gotta commend adidas for wasting no time in getting down.
New musicians and athletes were brought into the fold as well. Reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny joined the Three Stripes family, giving adidas another A-list talent with a level of prestige that's arguably comparable to Kanye West, Beyonce and Pharrell, while Trae Young, a budding NBA superstar in his own right got his first-ever signature shoe, the Trae Young 1. Of course, adidas didn't take a breather on the sustainability side either – their most notable efforts were a Stan Smith made of mushroom leather, the ,FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT sneaker that was created in partnership with Allbirds and a recycled UltraBOOST 21 with the cheeky-but-considerate crew at Palace.
adidas has been doing a double feature's worth of IP colabs for years, teaming up with every franchise imaginable – Star Wars, Dragon Ball Z and Toy Story, to name a few. Frankly, not all of them have been great, and the ones that were seemed, to get overshadowed by their less spectacular counterparts. At the beginning of the year, IP fatigue seemed to be beginning to set in among the brand's fans, but the Trefoil gave the flagging initiative an IV with their best set of IP releases in recent memory.
The Happy Gilmore offerings, done in partnership with Extra Butter, were an unexpected homage to a cult-favourite movie, and the Shooter McGavin-inspired UltraBOOST 'Gold Jacket' was one of the brand's best shoes of the year. The South Park x adidas Campus 80s 'Towelie' was a delightful stoney baloney sneaker with a viral detail on its tongue, and the Ned Flanders' McCarten from The Simpsons x adidas Originals collection was a terrific bit of fan service. Even James Bond got in on the mix with a long-delayed set of UltraBOOST drops.
This year adidas unleashed an especially interesting sub-set of collaborative products, which were both whimsical and fun-loving! In a year that saw the return of Jeremy Scott, it felt only right that the Three Stripes would up the fun, and that they did.
Besides Scott's return, his JS Forum Wings 1.0 'Money' and his hilariously heartwarming adilette 'Teddy' slides, Bad Bunny's set of Forum colabs managed to become the brand's biggest lifestyle releases of the year while retaining the quirky, unique-yet-relatable ethos that has made Bunny the biggest star in Latin music. That's not even mentioning Kerwin Frost, his comical adidas Superstuffed (a shoe that looks five sizes bigger than it actually is) and his Forum Hi 'Humanchives'. More fun in 2022, please!
Want more news from the world of the Three Stripes? Check out their top releases of 2021 here.