The sneaker scene can be quite the cluttered marketplace, which often makes it hard to keep up with what every single brand and niche category is offering. That challenge is amplified by the fact trends and technology can move at a rapid pace, with each of the major players engaging in an ongoing arms race that has inadvertently forced some of the best innovations and style flourishes seen on today’s sneaker scene.
Luckily for you, we follow these style developments for a living, so we’ve picked a small bunch of sneaker brands that will be well worth watching in the new year. Sure, crystal ball gazing can be a dangerous game, but here are some of the brands we’ll be keeping a close eye on in 2021...
Formed by three friends among the splendour of the Swiss Alps, On entered the footwear game in 2010 with one goal: to revolutionise the sensation of running. Focusing on the core principles of a cushioned landing and a firm take-off, they delivered CloudTec® cushioning, a neat technology now being enjoyed by over seven million people in over 55 countries.
With a decade of experience behind them, On enjoyed a very strong 2020, and look set to further that momentum into both the performance and fashion realms. In September this year, they announced their Cyclon concept: a monthly subscription service where members return end-of-life products back to On, in exchange for the latest version. Each pair is 100 per cent recyclable, putting On at the forefront of sustainability in the sneaker industry. Now, with Roger Federer recently joining their team as an entrepreneur, On are expected to continue hitting their fair share of winners in 2021.
Having started out almost 60 years ago, Danish brand ECCO continue to be fuelled by their founder Karl Toosbuy’s tenacious spirit, and are currently connecting city-slickers and trail-treaders alike with the Great Outdoors. GORPcore has been one of the strongest trends of 2020, and looks set to march on well into 2021, which means ECCO are well-placed to capitalise on the obvious hunger for techy designs that seem just as likely to be driving the morning coffee run as they are tackling a weekend hike.
Leading the charge is expected to be the BIOM C-TRAIL, a hiking shoe with a sneaker soul at its well-designed heart. Boasting all the mod cons you’d expect from its innovative makers, the BIOM C-TRAIL made quite an impression this year, building momentum that ECCO are expected to capitalise on well into next year and beyond.
HOKA ONE ONE
Another brand that is currently riding the wave of the newfound interest in the outdoors, HOKA ONE ONE delivered a solid 2020, and now seem poised to push through into 2021 with genuine force. Combining their outdoor nous with a unique approach to sole unit design, the French brand have managed an impressive crossover into fashion, seen most recently with their tonal ‘Gold Standard’ pack that lent the Midas touch to a trio of their performance runners.
In particular, HOKA ONE ONE’s association with American–Japanese menswear label Engineered Garments has had tongues wagging in recent years. Beginning in 2018 with six different versions of the lightweight Hupana runner, this collaborative partnership has drip-fed the scene over the last few years, and whispers suggest it looks set to continue into the future – making HOKA ONE ONE a must-watch in 2021.
Having delivered a super strong 2020, many eyes within the sneakersphere will be on how New Balance back it up in 2021. The Boston stalwarts have built some impressive momentum over the last 12 months, thanks to a steady stream of killer colabs and general release heat.
This year was peppered with banging renditions of the 992, 550 and 327, so it will be interesting to see which direction those silhouettes take in 2021, as you get the feeling they’ve all still got plenty to give. While we’re also interested to see where NB take their basketball range, with Kawhi Leonard leading the charge in his own signature model. Plus, there’ll no doubt be a few tricks up the sleeve to keep everyone on their toes – after all, you don’t stay in the game for over 100 years if you don’t have a knack of staying ahead of the curve.