Designers to Watch in 2021
This year was absolutely, positively hectic. But while we had multiple world-changing events that altered life as we knew it, one thing stayed constant – the influx of heater sneaker collaborations from designers both small and large. We had massive hits, shaking up the sneakersphere and, as usual, selling out in record-breaking time, before popping up on the secondary market for exorbitant prices. There were also a number of link-ups that catered to niche taste-lords who enjoy fashion's deep cuts.
2021 is expected to continue with that theme, as designers the world over get tapped by sneaker companies to apply their skills on heater creps. So, without further ado, here are some of the designers that you need to watch in 2021.
By no means is Paria Farzaneh new to the sneaker world. She already has a collaboration or two under her belt, and most recently she was tapped by Converse to rework their Pro Leather X2. The daughter of Iranian parents, Farzaneh references her cultural heritage in most of her work via graphics details. She also has refined her aesthetic and always fuses that into her sneaker collaborations. We feel like 2021 will be a big year for her if she continues her Converse collaborations, or extends her reach with other brands.
Cynthia Lu – Cactus Plant Flea Market
For those who may not know, Cactus Plant Flea Market is headed up by Cynthia Lu, who’s remained almost completely anonymous despite having her clothes worn by some of the best-dressed celebrities on the planet. Over the past few years, Lu’s built a solid reputation in the sneakersphere thanks to creative colabs such as her recent Swarovski-adorned Dunk Low. Once an extremely if-you-know-you-know kind of brand, CPFM has become a cultural phenomenon. With multiple Swoosh collaborations already on her CV, we’re sure that Lu isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon. Keep those eyes peeled.
Salehe Bembury has been working in the sneaker industry for a minute. Recently making a name for himself at Versace, we were happy to see him receive not one, but two solo collaborations this year. The most hyped out of the two was the New Balance 2002R. Following the monstrous success of that linkup, we’re sure that there will be more to come in 2021.
Teddy Santis – Aimé Leon Dore
Aimé Leon Dore have recently been making headlines in both the sneaker and fashion worlds. The New York–based brand have got their aesthetic on lock, amassing a cult-like fanbase that worship their every move. This year, we saw founder Teddy Santis rework multiple New Balance models, most notably the recently revived NB550. They also dipped their toes into a bit of Clarks with an interesting pilled Wallabee. If ALD and Teddy Santis continue on the trajectory they’re currently on, especially with New Balance colabs, we’re in for a treat next year.
Matthew M Williams
The founder of 1017 ALYX 9SM and Creative Director at Givenchy, Matthew M Williams is no stranger to the sneaker industry. He has been working with Nike over the past few years developing technical trainers, including the recent Zoom MMW 4. Not an up-and-comer by any means, we’re just letting you know that you should keep an eye on Matthew M Williams, as we suspect he’s got big things planned for 2021.
Grace Wales Bonner
Someone who was introduced to the sneakersphere not too long ago, Grace Wales Bonner, is a British designer that recently delivered a large adidas collaboration. Using two classic shoes, the SL72 and Samba, Wales Bonner injected them with her signature aesthetic, sacrificing hype for a well-rounded collection that also included a slew of apparel. From what we can tell, the release was received very well and, although it didn't sell out within minutes, it was definitely appreciated by those in her target market. Keep an eye on Wales Bonner, we think there’s more coming from her and adidas.