Sneakers We're Already Looking Forward To in 2022
As we enter the final two months of 2021, of course we're already anticipating what the world of sneakers has in store for 2022. We know you are too, and that's why we've rounded up 10 of the hottest pairs that are reportedly set to drop next year. Naturally there's a healthy dose of uncertainty surrounding releases due to shipping delays – but hey, that's just a little extra jolt of excitement. Get your wallets ready!
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 650R
Though Aimé Leon Dore's legions of loyal fans could indeed pre-order the brand's upcoming 650R colab with New Balance back in July, it's not actually set to release until 2022, making it more than deserving of a spot on this list. The 650R is a beefier and bulkier silhouette than Aimé Leon Dore's wildly popular New Balance 550s (low-key contenders for shoe of the year, at least in New York City)! They also boast the same crisp colourblocking, keen attention to detail and tasteful campaign imagery that made its predecessor a hit.
New Balance 990v6
Striking a balance between New Balance's past and future, the forthcoming New Balance 990v6 had everyone from supermodels in London to dads in Ohio in a tizzy when it was revealed back in June. Preceding its reveal, it was announced in April that Aimé Leon Dore founder Teddy Santis would head New Balance's MADE in USA campaign in 2022. Only time will tell when the 990v6 will release and what exactly Santis will do for the MADE in USA line it's a part of, but the possibilities presented by the first 99X silhouette since 2019's 990v5 certainly have New Balance fans from all walks of life excited.
Air Jordan 1 Hi '85 'Georgetown'
Jordan Brand's rollout of the Air Jordan 1 Hi '85 has been a bit... quizzical. The silhouette debuted to great fanfare back in January 2020 via a 'Varsity Red' colourway and its inclusion in the 'New Beginnings' pack alongside the first-ever Air Ship retro. Then, it was placed on the backburner for over a year until its 'Neutral Grey' colourway dropped in February 2021. Is the Hi '85 a once a year thing like the holiday Air Jordan 11 retro release used to be? What we do know is that it's supposed to come back in a 'Georgetown' colourway come February 2022. Inspired by a Georgetown Hoyas Air Jordan 1 PE from the 1980s, let's hope it's not the only Hi '85 we see next year!
Air Jordan 5 'Green Bean'
Though Jordan Brand's LS (Lifestyle) initiative in the 2000s was warmly received by all but the most hardened purists, many of its styles are unwearable in the 2020s – not because trends have changed so much, but because the shoes have simply broken down. But take heart! The Air Jordan 5 'Green Bean,' a LS legend from 2006 will return for the first time in 16 years next year. With its shimmering silver upper and eponymous green accents, it's a welcomed blast from the past and a standout for sure.
Air Jordan 12 'Playoffs'
It's about time that the Air Jordan 12 'Playoffs' saw a retro release. A decade has passed since it last dropped in 2012 – there was a low-top iteration in 2017 too, but that doesn't really count – and its mix of supple black and white leathers with just a touch of red makes it an instantly recognisable Air Jordan 12 colourway. Of course, it didn't hurt that the 'Playoffs' were present on MJ's feet for every home game during the 1997 NBA Playoffs. The 2012 retro is pictured above, and we can only hope that its attention to detail is replicated on this imminent drop.
Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low
Would it really be a 'most anticipated' list without a Travis Scott colab? C'mon. La Flame's reportedly got not one, but three ,Air Jordan 1 Lows set to drop in 2022. Two, we've seen already: the rightmost pair pictured above was spotted on Scott's feet back in October, while the middle pair was teased by Fragment Design head Hiroshi Fujiwara, who, after helping with the release of the Fragment Design x Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low in August, teased what appeared to be a second pair in November. The left pair? If you identified it as the Air Jordan 1 Low from Scott's memorable performance at the 2019 Grammys, you'd be correct. It's rumoured that's the pair that'll complete the 2022 trifecta, but that news is still pending confirmation. Any way it goes, it'll be hard for any other release to stoke the (la) flames of hype higher than these three low-top joints next year.
Travis Scott x Nike Air Trainer 1
Travis Scott and Nike, Inc. don't have just a single three-pack on the way in 2022: they've got two of 'em. Besides the above-mentioned Air Jordan 1s, Scott and the Swoosh will reportedly release three takes on the iconic, Tinker Hatfield-designed Air Trainer 1, Nike's first-ever multi-sport sneaker. With the Air Trainer 1 celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2022, the timing is certainly fitting – and although we haven't had a thorough look at the sneaker yet, the paparazzi spotted Scott wearing a pair that featured his signature backward Swoosh earlier this year. There's a possibility that one colourway might release towards the tail end of 2021, but that hasn't been confirmed yet so we're sticking to our guns.
Off-White x Nike Air Force 1 Mid
Is the (Air Force 1) Mid selling? That'll be Virgil Abloh's big test in 2022. The Air Force 1 Mid is far from an unpopular shoe. In fact, it's somewhat of a cult favourite, albeit a divisive one. However, working on a shoe like a mid-cut Air Force 1 is a lot different than reworking a silhouette everyone already loves like the Air Jordan 1, Air Presto or Air Max 97. It's not really even comparable to Abloh's more 'off the beaten path' designs like the Waffle Racer or the Zoom Terra Kiger 5, as those were more low-risk, high-reward styles. Will adding ripple soles, a visible Air unit, and a signature deconstructed feel make the AF-1 Mid 'cool'?
Union x Air Jordan 2
It's fitting that the ,Air Jordan 2 is listed below the Air Force 1 Mid here, as both are essentially the 'outcast' of their respective families. Granted, the Air Jordan 2 had the misfortune of being bookended by what many sneaker lovers would tell you are the greatest Air Jordans of all time – the Air Jordan 1 and the Air Jordan 3. The model simply just doesn't boast the same cultural cachet as its surrounding styles. Heck, Michael Jordan was even thinking about leaving Nike after the 2, but was wooed back in by some career-defining work from Tinker Hatfield! Nevertheless, it seems to be a big push for Jordan Brand towards the end of 2021 thanks to the Off-White x Air Jordan 2 Low collection, and the Jumpman has tapped Union to carry the AJ2 torch in 2022. At the time of writing, little more than mock-ups of the Union x Air Jordan 2 are available. However, the Chris Gibbs-helmed outfit clearly understands how to capture the zeitgeist of retro sportswear – the Union x Air Jordan 1 and Union x Air Jordan 4 prove that. Can they go three for three with the Air Jordan 2? We don't know, but we are damn excited to find out.
adidas Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 CMPCT
Ahh, Yeezy, Yeezy, how you do it huh? Over the last five years, Kanye West has managed to make the Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 a cultural staple and a true modern-day classic. It's far from being 'tired' – well, at least depending on who you ask – but it's set to get a refresh in 2022 thanks to the new Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 CMPCT. Essentially a streamlined version of the 350 V2, the CMPCT, which so far has only been seen in mock-ups, looks to feature a slightly slimmer upper and a true sock collar atop its familiar bulbous midsole. It's set to release in 'Slate Blue' and 'Slate Red,' the latter of which looks straight out of 2014, and will mark the start of a new chapter for the Yeezy BOOST 350 line.
adidas Yeezy BSKTBL Knit
West is expanding more than just the Yeezy line's lampin' options in 2022. The Yeezy Basketball line is growing with a new style called the Yeezy BSKTBL Knit 3D. Its BOOST-stuffed midsole and high-cut heel clip appear unchanged from the Yeezy QNTM, but it features a soft and stretchy upper (likely reinforced in high-motion areas) with an above-ankle sock collar for less weight. Much like the above-mentioned Yeezy BOOST 350 V2 CMPCT, only mockups have been seen. Nevertheless, we just might see these on NBA courts sometime next year since they don't have a heaping helping of hi-vis reflective materials like their predecessors did – they probably won't be banned!