While 2020 hasn’t quite panned out like many had expected, there were some very well received retro releases across everyone’s favourite sneaker brands. New Balance nerds essentially manifested the return of the 992, and while nobody specifically asked for the Nike Air Max Tailwind 5, it was a nice surprise.
Alas, some of Sneaker Freaker’s retro requests from 2020 ultimately fell on deaf ears (where’s that Air Zoom Citizen?), so here’s a new wish list for what the major players should bring back from their extensive archives. Like last year, there will only be one model per brand, lest it read like The NeverEnding Story. Or perhaps it’s simply just a case of which sneakers the author really really wants to return in 2021. Pray to the sneaker deities for these.
Nike Air Structure
The Nike Air Max BW is apparently coming back in 2021, so let’s bring on the Air Structure too! Better known as the Air Structure Triax 91 upon its reissue in the 2007–08 season, this model was one of Nike’s most advanced stability runners when it debuted back in 1991. There has been chatter online of the Teal/Infrared ‘Black Toe’ OG coming back in 2021, and the ‘Blue Toe’ that was a European exclusive last retro needs to come back widely this time.
It might have been marketed as the ‘world’s first intelligent shoe’, but the adidas_1 was particularly clever for making wallets light (its $250 RRP was almost unheard of for running shoes back in 2004). Performance tech has come a long way since, but the mid-2000s aesthetic that’s recently been informing the sneakersphere would mean an adidas_1 retro could slot right into the assortment. Perhaps swapping out the clunky microchip and circuitboard for some adiPRENE would keep prices down, and actually improve comfort levels. There was a basketball version too, but let’s keep those as memories.
Named after the trusty offensive strategy used in basketball, the Fastbreak is a historically significant sneaker for Converse. It went through a few variations in the 1980s – some worn by UNC-era Michael Jordan – and the 1983 edition was reissued a couple of years ago. While not as well-known, its update in circa 1988 sat right at the cusp of a new dawn for basketball shoe tech (no thanks to the Air Jordan 3). Proper high-cut, but not shin-scraping, nylon tongue, padded ankle, and technical tread pattern. Bring it back!
A new generation is rightfully being introduced to classic Clarks models, namely the Wallabee, so perhaps this renewed interest may build enough momentum to bring back the Oberon (again) from the 1970s. The Oberon’s soles were made from a proprietary compound called Polyveldt that exhibited the holy trinity of supportive cushioning, flexibility and durability. Which is what makes the best shoes. The Oberon was actually retroed not too long ago, but Clarks definitely have the scope to reintroduce Polyveldt shoes into the Originals line.
Reebok Victory G
Reebok were an early adopter of the new-fangled GORE-TEX technology that was adapted for hiking boots in the late-1970s. The Victory G was introduced around 1982 and was marketed as ‘the most advanced foul weather running shoe ever built’. To be fair, that was pretty much true at the time, thanks to the ’Bok’s foresight to use the aforementioned waterproof-yet-breathable membrane! With the trail running look still en vogue, these ancestral runners could appeal to those who want to… splash out.
PUMA Clyde (Made in Yugoslavia)
Yes, Clydes are a core PUMA style, but some old-school collectors feel it’s not being done justice with its current Far East production. Some of the earliest Clyde examples from the 1970s were made in Yugoslavia, and remain hot property for Formstripe fans because of their superior shape and materials. However, considering Yugoslavia technically no longer exists, the Made in Japan Suedes that PUMA put out in the 2010s may have to be a compromise.
Regale yourself with some other old-school kick knowledge in our Features section.